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Whenever one is reporting about an event or occurrence, one is subject to be influenced by his personal perspectives about the issue and therefore become bias. One reports on the issue at hand according to his worldview and his personal opinions about the same. It therefore follows that two people writing about the same event may present two different pictures. Those studying issues surrounding the event in future may never know the whole truth by reading the work of one writer because of personal bias. Tompkins realized this when she was studying about the relationship between the puritans and the native Indians. She realized that different writers reported differently about the same events. Therefore it is important to read from several writers to get the truth about a subject because every writer is affected by personal worldview when reporting about a topic. This paper will use "Letter from Birmingham Jail," by Martin Luther King Jr, "Thirty-nine Steps Across the Border and Back" by Rebecca Solnit and "In History" by Jamaica Kincaid to show how bias presents itself in their writing.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
The Letter from Birmingham Jail was written by Martin Luther King Jr, a black civil rights activist and a preacher from the South in response to another letter written by several preachers from the City of Birmingham condemning the non-violent direct action sit-ins that were being carried out by civil rights activist to protest Birmingham's segregation laws. Responding to the white preachers, Luther expounded at length the suffering that the colored people had been going through as a justification to their non-violent direct action protests. His letter manifests what Tompkins called bias in that while he is quick to explain the problems the colored people has gone through as a result of white oppression, he does not mention the sufferings the white population could have suffered as a result of the actions of the colored people and more so the non violent protests that were going on. His letter was one sided. In the same letter, he accuses the white preachers of emulating the sufferings the non- violent protests were causing the white population without mentioning the sufferings that the white population had subjected the colored population to. It is evident that the white population and indeed the whole City was suffering because of the actions taken by the civil activists (Bates Collage para 3). This he does not give attention to.
While he alludes to the difficulties encountered by the colored parents in explaining to their young children why they cannot go to certain places and certain amusement parks, he does not comment anything about the difficulties the white parents may face in explaining to their children why they may not go for shopping or to the amusement park that Easter due to the protests in the City. The civil rights activists organized the protests purposely to coincide with Easter to implicate maximum damage on the interests of the white population.
"Thirty-nine Steps Across the Border and Back" by Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit is an environmentalist, a writer and an explorer. Her essay, "Thirty-Nine Steps Across the Border and Back" manifests bias in that it is very critical of the United States concern for the environment (Solnit 75). She is sarcastic of the U.S policy on the environment and immigration insinuating that the U.S does everything to keep the Mexicans from crossing into the U.S while at the same time air pollution and sewage from the U.S cross into Mexico without visas. This shows some bias on her part as an environmentalist. Of the border, she says 'after all those years of fiery rhetoric about the border, it was strange to float down the place it was supposed to be and find nothing but water, rock, and prickly pears' (Solnit 77). She manifests bias towards the environment and the U.S yet it is common knowledge that the U.S is far much better a place to live in and the immigration policies are aimed at stopping illegal immigrants from Latin America fleeing to the U.S in search of a better life.
"In History" by Jamaica Kincaid
Jamaica Kincaid, originally from Antigua, came to the U.S as an au pair. She writes about colonialism in Antigua and the negative effects it brought to the island. She is very critical of the European colonist. Her account of history is one sided in that while there are many negative things that the Europeans took to the Americans, it is also true that there are many positive development in the Americas and in Antigua itself that can be attributed to the white colonists and their descendants. She also fails to acknowledge that the problems facing the Latin American countries and the Caribbean are not as a result of colonization and slavery only but rather the bad governance that has plagued the regions countries since they got independence.
The article criticizes the white man as the aggressor and sympathizes with the native Americans as the victims yet it is documented that in some instances, it is the natives who attacked and killed the white people even without provocation. These instances of situations where the settlers were the victims of atrocities committed by the natives do not feature in the article (Jamaica, 2).
She is also critical of her mother for what she considers as mistreatment. She does not record what she could have done herself that worsened the mother-daughter relationship or anything she has done after to improve their relationship. She paints his mother as an inhumane person. Her writing therefore manifests bias against the Britons who were the colonizers and against her mother (Jamaica 6).
The way history is reported suffers from the writer's bias depending on the writer's worldview about the issue at the environment. Not that any writer records false information but rather, they emphasize on what they consider important and sympathize with the side that leans towards their worldview. Therefore such writing can be considered to be true but not all the truth.