Rough Draft Assignment-1

Tenzin Woesel

Professor J. Polish

Eng 102


In the poem “brown boy, white boy”, Jonathan Mendoza does a great job of explaining the struggle of being a biracial person with his words, examples and most of all with his hand, face expression and with his voice. At the beginning of the poem he explains that he is brown on the inside and white on the outside. As I was listening the poem it struck to me when Jonathan said “biracial boy wishes his skin came with an instruction manual”. Basically he’s not sure where he fits in the society and his family as later on he brings these issues up. And the reason it struck me was because I never thought of people wishing for a skin instruction manual and now that I know, it made me feel emotional to think some people are so confused and lost of their identity due to being a biracial.

Jonathan explains that when he visited his family in Mexico, he felt and was treated like an outsider because of his skin color. So his family does not see him as half mix but rather full white because of his skin color. Now when Jonathan and his family went to the white synagogue his family was the only one not invited to the dinner party. So even though Jonathan skin color is white, white people still see him as a brown and therefor treats him different. Because of that Jonathan says “biracial boy is welcome every where, biracial boy is not welcome everywhere”.

Around the end of the Poem I realize that Jonathan does not only compete with the society nor the family but himself as well. He talks like he has a brain for the brown inside and a brain for the white outside and that there is always this fight between them for their differences. For example when Jonathan explains that a white cop talks of immigration policy he hid his brown from his white skin, but at the same time he does not want to be protected by his skin color. So therefore he is puzzled and wishes he has a skin instructional manual.

One thought on “Rough Draft Assignment-1”

  1. Tenzin,

    This is a wonderful start, and I like that you structure your paper around this idea of his skin needing an instruction manual. I wonder if you might delve a little deeper into the ideas you bring up to help you structure your claim about his puzzlement: you raise the wonderful point in the last paragraph that he’s not only conflicting with society and family, but also with himself. I wonder how that complicates your earlier claim that he is simply brown on the inside and white on the outside. How does that square with what he says at the end, that biracial boy is both of them? If his whiteness were only his skin, how would it scream? How does his whiteness scream? How does his brownness scream? What does that mean for what’s going on inside him?

    More specifically, I wonder: is he *creating* an instruction manual for himself through the writing and performing of this poem? If yes, what might that manual argue/teach him/teach us? If no, why not?

    I’m so excited to read your expanded thoughts on this!!


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