Definition essay activity

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  • In small groups use the 6 questions (see page 480 of the handout) to create a definition for the individual subject, collective subject, institution, or concept on your note card.
  • Is this subject unique, or are there others of its kind? If it resembles others, in what ways? How is it different?
  • In what different forms does it occur, while keeping its own identity?
  • When and where do we find it? Under what circumstances and in what situations?
  • What is it a the present moment?
  • What does it do? What are its functions and activities?
  • How is it put together? What parts make it up? What holds these parts together?


  • “The Meanings of Word” by Gloria Naylor
  • The “N” word:
  • Singular word meaning a black man who had earned approval from fellow blacks for demonstrating strength, intelligence or drive in a given situation.
  • Singular form does not apply as a term approval/respect for a black woman. Instead, the comparable term used would be “G-I-r-l” said as 3 syllables and only used among peers or older to younger, not younger to older.

The “N” word

  • An adjective-used by black women as a term of endearment and respect; also of possession (i.e. “my”)
  • Plural used by blacks to show disgust and lack of tolerance for fellow blacks who have no self-respect.

The “N” word

  • A racist, derogatory insult used by whites to show prejudice and superiority to blacks.

The “N” word

  • A term used to show solidarity among a group of blacks to remove the stigma associated with it when said by whites. The term when used within the black community reflects the self-perception of the blacks in opposition to the meaning when used by outsiders.

The “N” Word

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