English 2100 Fall 2023:  What Goes Unsaid?

Tipping Culture in the U.S.

I have realized that the United States, specifically, takes tipping really seriously. Even though it’s not a legal obligation to tip, leaving a little tip or no tip may be considered rude. There are countries such as China, Korea, and Japan that don’t practice tipping, since they find it offensive that they are given “handouts”. In America, the typical tip amount would be 15-20%. Tipping became more popular after the Civil War when restaurants started to hire newly freed slaves but offered them no wage. This meant that the workers had to rely on tips to make up for their pay. “It’s the legacy of slavery that turned the tip in the U.S. from a bonus or extra on top of a wage, to a wage itself,” explains Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center United. In today’s economy, inflation and low wages are nothing new, especially in America. Tipping culture has gotten out of hand when even self-checkout kiosks ask for a tip. Tips should be a form of gratuity of how well the service is, and should not feel like an obligation. I had a time in middle school when I ate at a restaurant with my friends. The food was mediocre and the service was not as good as we would like it to be. When the bill came, we had just enough to cover it leaving $5 as a tip. However, the $5 was less than the percentage shown on the receipt, less by $2. The waitress chased us down when we exited. We were in middle school and we gave them all the money we had with the tip we felt they deserved for their service. With inflated prices of goods and low wages, I understand that many have to rely on tips to make up for their wage. The U.S. should do something about the unbalance between inflation and wages.

Show and Tell

One major issue that stands out to me is gentrification. Gentrification has been a big issue amongst lower income neighborhoods, especially in New York City. Wealthy people move into these poorer urban areas, improve housing and open new businesses. Property prices and rent go up and so do local services. This causes the displacement of current inhabitants and their small owned businesses. These lower income neighborhoods usually have demographics of minorities. Gentrification erases the cultural heritage of working class communities of color. Real estate investors benefit from the profits of gentrification. Now that residents of lower income have been displaced, it is difficult for them to find a new area to reside in, especially with the same opportunities as their previous community. To make matters worse, there is not enough affordable housing in NYC. There are also 90,000 vacant apartments throughout the five boroughs, according to New York Magazine, Curbed. Some neighborhoods that are experiencing gentrification include Harlem, Chinatown, and Williamsburg. The remaining local small businesses now have to compete with these new and trendy upscale shops whose target consumers are the new wealthy hip residents. I believe that gentrification can affect a community’s history and culture. Harlem, for example, is a historical neighborhood known for its deeply-rooted African American heritage, civil rights history, and thriving music scene. Another example is Chinatown. Although there are still many Asian owned businesses, many businesses are suffering from high living costs. Local residents are also being displaced from their own community. Gentrification is slowing taking over almost everywhere in NYC. My childhood neighborhood in Brooklyn now has transformed. The once locally owned businesses are now replaced with big brand name stores. The once affordable housing are now replaced with new luxury condos.


Hello. My name is Alyssa Liang. I go by she/her pronouns. My birthday is on January 26, 2005. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, specifically the Borough Park/Dyker Heights area. However, I unfortunately moved to Staten Island when I was 13. I graduated from Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. One regret is that I wish I had joined a sport in high school. I was simply too lazy and lacked commitment. Other than that, I had a fulfilling high school experience. I enjoy going out and trying new things. Anywhere or anything someone wants to go or do, I’d be down for. My favorite thing to do whenever I feel stressed and need to clear my mind is go biking and have picnics at Governors Island. I like to be one with nature and be isolated whenever I feel burdened and Governors Island is perfect for that. I have a boyfriend of three years. I enjoy making him step out of his comfort zone. This summer, we started traveling alone together to Los Angeles, Boston, and Orlando. I have two domestic shorthair cats who I adopted during quarantine. I have an interest in streetwear. I used to collect and resell shoes, but not so much anymore. I currently major in business management, but I am thinking of changing it to architecture. What represents me the most currently is my love for food. I have a bad habit of spending my money eating out. I love food and will never skip a meal. I always love trying new spots to eat, especially with people I enjoy being around. My favorite flavor palette would be Asian cuisine, but that may be biased since I’m Asian. 

“Learning to Read”

In this excerpt from Malcolm X’s autobiography, I observed that Malcolm X used his time in prison wisely. He found passion in literature. With only having formal education up to the 8th grade, he used his time in prison to continue his education that he never had the chance to get. I found dedication in Malcolm X when he started to copy off the dictionary. Using a dictionary is a good way to expand vocabulary, especially when it is all that Malcolm X had at that time. Copying off the dictionary also helped him easily memorize the words and helped with his handwriting. I like that he called it his “homemade education” instead of “self taught”, because he used the resources that were available in prison. With his available resources and new literacy skills, he learned about the truth of slavery and how history has been whitewashed.