In choosing my piece to repurpose, I considered an academic essay I wrote last semester about education and black children or a paper I wrote last year about aging and how distorted our society’s view of the elderly is. For me, there was no question which paper I wanted to repurpose and when I talked to my peers and Shelley about it, they all agreed. My education paper was largely telling the story of my friend’s life, from his sports success as a football star to his troubles when he lost all college offers when he got permanently injured his senior year. He was recently shot and killed in a robbery, an event that rocked my community. Because of my personal connection to his story and my conviction that there is more of the story to tell, everyone agreed I should repurpose that essay.
People had very helpful ideas of how to repurpose it for another audience. My first idea was to write it as a speech for a school board meeting, but I wasn’t crazy about that idea and felt that it would still have too much of a similar formal and academic tone. Shelley suggested doing an in-depth article focusing more on the idea of student-athletes and the fact that we view them as athletes, not students, which was a piece of my argument I certainly talked a lot about in my essay but didn’t focus solely on. It was a great idea. Someone in my group snow balled off of this and suggested interviewing University of Michigan athletes and then writing an article for the Michigan Daily. Although I loved these ideas, my heart wasn’t in the idea. I really wanted to focus on the story of A.J. because I thought that that was the unique strength of my paper and one that needs more work and investigation. Someone seemed to pick up on this and suggested doing an in-depth profile of A.J.’s life and story for a newspaper. I could focus on personal interviews, even interviewing the family if possible. For me, this was the perfect fit.
I originally wrote Education and the Underdog for my Politics of Education course at University of Michigan. It served as an academic, though personal, essay for the audience of my professor. I used a relatively formal tone since it was an academic essay and I incorporated several books and articles we read in our course. However, I also used personal pronouns and stories to make it a bit more of a narrative argument. My purpose was to show how black students in America grow so complacent about schools even though their abstract belief in education is even stronger that white children’s. I argued that schools must start to teach black students to believe in themselves, not only as athletes but as students, and that schools, and the communities they exist in, are responsible for making every child feel that they are valuable and that they can benefit from education. A large portion of my essay focused on the story of my friend from high school, A.J. Marion.
I want my revamped piece to be a column for my hometown newspaper about how young black people, like A.J., fall victim to circumstances rather than excelling in school. Schools see black children as athletes, not as students, and this puts them at a disadvantage. I will use less academic articles and more personal interviews to really paint the picture of A.J.’s life. I want to incorporate many personal interviews to make this piece a more in-depth feature piece on A.J.’s life. I want to interview our high school’s principal, football coach and students who knew A.J. well. I also think it would be a neat idea to interview another white student athlete who excelled in track, but also went on to study at Vanderbilt University, and be a star student. Why were their lives so different when, in so many ways, they were so alike? My purpose is to tell A.J.’s story thoroughly and compellingly and to do justice to his life story. My argument is that the school and community’s view of A.J. as an athlete only was detrimental for him. My audience will be people of all ages who read the Asheville Citizen-Times, my city’s newspaper. This will require a less formal and academic tone and more of a casual, narrative tone.
I’m a little daunted by taking on the task of telling A.J.’s life story because it’s a story I will want to do justice to in every way because he deserves that. Yet, I’m also excited about this task and know that my passion for it will not run out as I work on it all semester.