Readings:   Jia Tolentino, “Always Be Optimizing”  Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The First White President”   Prompt In their essays, both Tolentino and Coates examine how longstanding social inequalities—between men and women, and between black and white people—are maintained and perpetuated. Through their writing, both authors aim to illuminate the often hidden, or obscured, presence of incorrect assumptions and stereotypes in society. These assumptions or beliefs have long been circulated as myths, which function in maintaining the status quo – in keeping those in positions of power in power (whether they know it or not). Tolentino, through a series of personal stories, examines her own internalization of the “beauty myth” (p. 81), while Coates examines the internalization and use of the myth of “the virtuous [and victimized] white working class” (p. 80) by politicians and journalists. Drawing specific idea rich passages from both texts, compose an original argument that responds to the following question: How do societal myths contribute to systemic issues in American society such as sexism and racism?    Follow-Up Questions: (*Note that you should not necessarily respond to these questions directly in the body of your essays. Rather, these questions are meant to help you generate ideas and to help you start working toward your answer to the prompt). How would you define “systemic”? What is a “myth” and how does it differ from facts and evidence (drawn from history/real lives and lived experiences)?; what specific myth does each author focus on? and why do so many people internalize/retell myths? In what ways do myths limit the ability of individuals (whether individual women or political figures) to challenge or solve systemic social issues? Why do the authors want their readers to recognize the presence of these often invisible (and yet always present) myths? How and why might recognizing them (and therefore brining them to the surface) help lead us toward a more equal society? Some helpful tips: I would recommend that you begin by free-writing ideas and drawing an outline. You might also use the “Paper Structure” handout as a guide for what each section of your paper should include). Remember that your introduction must provide a clear argument for the essay as a whole (* 1-3 sentence thesis statement). Each body paragraph then aims to help demonstrate or prove this specific argument by close reading *evidence from both texts. Also remember that the stronger your rough draft, the often stronger your final (*graded) draft.    Format Remember that you must proofread carefully. Also note that quotations should be carefully transcribed and attributed to the author. To cite quotes you may use MLA (preferred), APA, or Chicago style. Please follow the conventions of standard edited American English. Use 1.0-inch, double- spacing, and twelve-point font (e.g. Times New Roman, Garamond). Number all pages. The paper should have your name/date, and course info on the first page. You should also title your paper. Due Dates: Rough Draft (1300 words): Tuesday, 22nd September by midnight  • + be ready to share an outline on Thursday for peer review Final Draft (1700 words): Tuesday, 29th September by midnight