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For Black Lives Matter

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Heather Enslin

Sean Cissel

RWS 305W

17 November 2017

For Black Lives Matter

        Black Lives Matter is, “An international activist movement, originating in the African American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.” The 21st century is centered upon technology and therefore this generation lives in a technology based society meaning that teens and adults use sources such as social media to acquire their news. In addition to this, now more than ever people feel empowered to document situations that they find suspicious or unjust especially because a majority of people carry their cell phones with them 24/7. With people recording acts of injustice on a day-to-day basis, it has become hard for those who are victimized to ignore. There has been a substantial amount of controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement due to the misinterpretation of the messages being sent through their actions and words along with the credibility of the movement itself. It can be argued by those who advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement that they are seeking equality for African Americans through the use of peaceful protest and are not intending to undermine other races by doing so. Those who advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement should focus on using rhetorical strategies which put more emphasis on ethos and pathos.

        The target audience that those in favor of this movement should focus on persuading are people who do not identify as African-American, both male and female, who feel “in-between” on the situation, are middle-aged, whereabout their geographic region is more rural and therefore they would experience a little less diversity compared to those living in urban areas. These are going to be people who value the nation that they live in, who would like to see equality for all, who value honesty, education, respect and community. These most likely are not people who experience day by day racism themselves. They most likely have never experienced profiling or a bad run in with the cops either.

        When appealing to pathos, those in favor of this movement should never shame, humiliate, or guilt their audience. One of the biggest issues of the Black Lives Matter movement revolves around the title of the movement. Those who do not agree with it are often shamed for not understanding the true meaning behind the name and the movement itself. Titling the movement Black Lives Matter can be viewed as divisive and offensive to other races. Black Lives Matter can be viewed as other lives don’t. A simple solution could be a name change. Those who are pro Black Lives Matter could change the name to Black Lives Matter Too or Black Lives Are Important Too which would completely counter-act all if not most of the negativity associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and had it originally been named Black Lives Matter Too there probably would have never been a counter-act to that statement of “All Lives Matter.” It singles African Americans out and makes others feel unwanted in the movement, it singles them out to where other people don’t feel as if this movement is something they can relate to. Additionally, it is important not to make the audience feel guilty for past events such as slavery which the audience currently has no control over. It is best to focus on the issues at hand and to emphasize the actions that can be taken currently to improve conditions in the now.

        Moreover, a rhetorical strategy appealing to ethos that should not be utilized in this case is polarization. Those who are pro Black Lives Matter should never make their audience feel as if they are racist or fall into the “white supremist” category if they don’t fully agree with all of the methods that are being utilized when protesting in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement. It should be expressed to the audience that it is okay to have differing opinions on specific subjects that the movement is addressing. A specific example of a situation where this movement should not use polarization would be in relation to the national anthem protest. Companies began pulling their sponsorships from NFL players that were kneeling during the national anthem. These NFL players were kneeling in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in which it can be interpreted that they feel that the national anthem is inaccurate when it states, “Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, for the land of the free, and the home of the brave,” because again the interpretation is that they do not believe that there is true freedom for African Americans due to the ever-present racism that they experience. CenturyLink, a telecommunications company who sponsored the Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall decided to terminate their agreement with him, “CenturyLink terminated its agreement with Marshall in a statement that said in part: While we acknowledge Brandon’s right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation. In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments. For this reason, while we wish Brandon the best this season, we are politely terminating our agreement with him.” Although they did this politely, the author of the article claims that their termination is the cause of white supremacism which depicts a clear us vs. them situation which is what the pro Black Lives Matter movement should be trying to avoid. The audience disagreeing with one aspect of the movement should and does not automatically make them “white supremacists” nor does it mean that they do not support the overall symbolism of the movement therefore those who are pro Black Lives Matter need to understand the distinction between being completely against something and being against a specific facet of something.

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