Exploration of the Text
1. What is the nature of the interaction between the two boys?
It may have been a social stigma. The Baltimorean may have been brought up in a prejudice society or the act of sticking his tongue out is merely what children might do to other children as a symbol of naivety or childishness.
2. Why does the speaker remember nothing more than the incident, even though he stayed in
Baltimore from “May until December”?
Oppression is serious issue. No matter how old the individual is it can scars the victim emotionally for a very long time. Being treated as such at a young age, really took its toll on the persona and probably that was the only thing that had happened during his stay at Baltimore. It might be a town of racist society. Being significant as it is, that may have contributed to the persona’s memory of Baltimore during his stay.
The Reading/Writing Connection
1. In a paragraph compare your experience of prejudice with the persona in the poem.
I used to study in an all-boys school and back then, the norm of this school is to stick with your pack or in this case, your race. Unlike the persona in the poem, instead of just emotionally scar others for life, the boys in my school were actually going physical on other races that they do not like. And a tongue-sticking-act is the last thing you wanted to do in my school. Of course, this is not a ‘May until December’ period, this happens almost every day until you graduated from that school - if you get lucky. Luck has a funny way of messing the human beings. They prejudice does not stop at school; it may turn even uglier outside school. I am grateful that I finally came out from that ignorant way of life and eventually made some Chinese and Indian friends and we became best friends too!
Ideas for Writing
1. What do its form and rhyme add to this poem?
The inconsistency of the rhyme may have contributed to this poem. Indirectly, it lets the writer express himself more freely without the constriction from the rhymes.
2. What is the power of language? What are the effects of the use of the term nigger?
Nowadays, language represents a social hierarchy. For example, if one is proficient in English, the society/audience will respect you more and speak highly of you. Why? Well, because English is the world’s language. Mastering a foreign language takes years of study and practise. If one are able to speak more than one language very well if not fluently, then the society will look up upon you.
Now discussing the N-word, it is now known as the most offensive word in the United Stated. It is a term used to describe the black people. The word itself came from a Spanish word ‘negro’ which means the colour black. It is a no brainer that usage of this word has dire consequences. If used in a literature piece, it will be controversial and be banned by the public, probably. If used in a school report, the work might be rejected and if it is used on the street, let us just assumed that it is like buying a one-way-ticket to the cemetery. So note to self and others, stay away from that term and use the right one - human.