Practice writing a persuasive essay is an excellent way to build the skills we have outlined in this course’s Learning Objectives. Socio-political and cultural commentary blog posts represent a shorthand version of Opinion/Editorial (or OpEd) essays that are often shared through online and print media. In this assignment, we invite you to strengthen your skillset in this style of blogging, which can go a long way in advancing your thought leadership and advocacy skills.
What are the essential elements of a great sociocultural commentary/analysis/advocacy blog? When we read our favorite blogs, we note that the interviewer opens with a compelling “hook” as a way to introduce the topic or question – the interviewer then carefully defines key terms that are central to understanding that issue; the interviewer provides the reader with some compelling evidence to support the interviewer’s position on that issue. Sometimes the interviewer lifts up or quotes the perspective of one or more community members, leaders, or advocates (or the writer’s own personal perspective) to share insights from”on the ground.” Finally, the blogger gives the reader a clear set of action steps or guidance on how to move forward, and then ends the podcast with a strong wrap-up.
For Assignment 2, you will draft several key components of that essay or OpEd – 1) What is your topic of interest, i.e. what is your title? 2) Give us the definition of one or two key terms in order to make sure your listeners are all on the “same page” 3) Share 3 key pieces of evidence to help your audience better understand the issue that you raise. Be sure to include citations so your audience can find the sources of those pieces of evidence. 4) If you feel really inspired, include a quote from a leader, activist, advocate or community member that really illustrates your point or makes it more vibrant. Think about whose voice or voices you would lift up and “center” in the narrative you would ideally like to create for your audience. 5) Finally, recommend 1 or 2 action steps and provide us with preliminary ideas about how you would close the segment.
To prepare to carry out the first steps to developing your own blog, first learn by reading others’ posts. Select a blog or OpEd that has sociocultural, political, or sociological content (good examples are provided throughout this syllabus). Read that blog and jot down things you liked and disliked about the author’s approach. What would you do differently, if you were making your case or framing your viewpoint?
Then, choose ONE topic from the syllabus topics we have covered so far, in this course (OR PROPOSE YOUR OWN) and:
a) Provide a title and your proposed topic – what is your angle?
b) Identify your audience – where are you hoping to post this blog, and whom would you want to reach with this information and guidance?
c) The hook – what is your specific “angle” on how you think about the topic – what got you initially interested in this issue, or what current event or moment in the last several weeks has heightened the importance of this issue for you and for your audience?
d) What 1 or 2 key constructs or concepts (e.g. residential segregation, opportunity hoarding, disenfranchisement) do you need to define, in order for your listeners to all be on the same page? Please be sure to provide citations from video lecture, from readings, or both.
e) Draft 3 or 4 pieces of compelling evidence that frames the problem, supports your position on the issue, and leads your readers to have a clearer understanding of why your position makes sense.
f) Share 1 to 2 action steps or recommendations you want to provide to your audience in order to follow up. If this blog were to galvanize us to take action, what action steps would you recommend?
g) How to close? What final words or thoughts would you like to leave us with?