Rhetoric Project- Black Lives Matter
I chose to focus my project on racism in America and dive into the movement called Black Lives Matter. The goal of the project was essentially to use and study rhetoric in order better understand a topic. After looking at this topic we were required to make a rhetorical piece stating our view. I chose to cover racism because I believe it to still be a prominent issue in America, with white privilege as alive as it has ever been. For the project I decided to do a rap song that covered this controversial topic. I chose this because I have been into hip hop for a while and I thought it was the best medium to use for this kind of topic. The final product addressed the social issue and called for awareness when it comes things like white privilege and Black Lives Matter.
Music has always been a form of rhetoric, especially hip hop. Songs can make you happy, sad or even believe in ideologies. For this reason I chose to incorporate a few key things into my song. First, I made sure to give it an emotional side which allows for people to connect with it. Second, I brought in facts about the movement and the true scale I had learned through my research. Last, I made sure to take the perspective of a white kid because that’s what I am. Because the audience was generally white they were able to connect with my appearance and the fact that I wasn’t trying to act like something I’m not. Through these different parts of rhetoric, it performed the function of letting people know the true extent of the issue and how we can change it.
I connected to this project because I have long believed that racism still exists and plays out everyday. Due to my passion for the issue, the project was something I wanted to learn more about. The fact that this topic meant so much to me made it so I put in all my effort into rhetorically telling others my stance. I was not only able to pick a topic I was passionate about, but I was also allowed to present this topic through the art form of music, which is my greatest passion.
The most difficult thing about this project was the original time line. Almost nobody was where they needed to be by the deadlines and while I had my project completed I still needed rehearsing. In the end we were able to move the deadline back so everyone was able to complete what they needed to have done. However, in the future I believe that setting deadline that allowed everyone to get where they needed to be would be ideal. If not that, then weekly checkups would keep the project on the right track.
I have learned that rhetoric is a part of our everyday lives and shapes us whether we like it or not. We are constantly being bombarded with rhetoric and different ideologies through politics, media, advertisements and music. The American experience is largely shaped by these things that play a role in our day to day hustle. Black Lives Matter is an example of a rhetorical movement fueled by emotion and unfair treatment. As I have grown up in America I have embraced the ideology that freedom should be available to everyone, all people are equal, and realized that we can’t solve any problem until we recognize there is one.
The Land of Equal Opportunity
Black lives do matter. It’s not a complicated statement, yet it is often ignored by the white majority in society.. Police brutality, education and poverty are a few things that exemplify the depth of the issue. This most often occurs within the city, “78% of whites say inner-city crime is a bigger problem than police discrimination against minorities, while 56% of blacks say discrimination. And 82% of black voters think black Americans receive unfair treatment from police. Just 30% of whites see it that way.” The hard truth is that the majority of the white population sees the issue as hyped up by the media and a smaller problem than it truly is, this view of race is called color blindness. America is commonly called “Land of the Equality,” but how can that be so if the majority of black Americans aren’t receiving the same treatment as whites.
How come all lives don’t matter? The straightforward answer is; they do. All people deserve equal opportunity to become successful right? The issue here is not making it easier for a minority, it’s creating an environment where everyone starts in the same place. Creating an environment where this is true requires more awareness for the depth of the situation on all sides. When a kid grows up in the ghetto, it becomes much harder to achieve success than if he or she grew up in a protected suburban neighborhood.
I find the extent of the issue somewhat ridiculous. At the same time, this is easy for me to say. I’m white, I grew up in the upper middle class and in all honesty have never had to struggle for much. When I bring up racism to white kids there is often an immediate uncomfortable feeling when I claim that it’s is still alive. We’re afraid to admit the true extent of the issue. While 11.6 percent of White Americans live in poverty, about 25.8 percent of Black Americans struggle with poverty.
The topic of racism is one that commonly makes people uncomfortable, mostly due the fact that they are afraid to offend one of the two sides. When a white person claims that there is less opportunity for a black individual than for a white one there is a common backlash because everybody has to struggle to become successful. The school system is a perfect example of this, “At the national level, the 2012-13 school year estimates indicate a national graduation rate of 59% for Black males, 65% for Latino males and 80% for White males.” Without a proper education the struggle for solid future becomes much greater.
Not only does skin color affect the education of an individual, but it also plays a large role in how someone is treated in the criminal justice system. “A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report showed Black males born in 2001 had a 32 percent likelihood of going to prison in their lives, more than five times the likelihood for White men.” This can affect families as a whole because having a family member in prison has the potential to create an economic burden on the whole family. It is also proven that black kids as young as ten are viewed as older by police which can lead to unnecessary brutality. When a twelve year old kid was playing in a park with a toy gun police reported a “black individual, maybe 20.” When he got spooked and started to run he was shot and killed.
Police brutality is a topic commonly covered by the media. The issue is often seen as exaggerated because of this coverage by the opposing side. The story of Michael Brown is a well known example that details the extent of the problem. He had just stole from a convenience store and when the police officer confronted him he was aware of what Brown had done. According to the officer Brown went into the officer’s car to seize his gun and proceeded to advance. He then shot at Brown, however there was no mention of him having his hands up and proclaiming “Don’t shoot.” Multiple witnesses claimed that this story was false and the incident only confirmed the distrust between the two sides. This distrust is a common problem and only fuels the racial tension.
Many people believe that the true solution is time, however the best way to solve the problem is to recognize that there is one. Without acknowledging the true extent of the issue it tends to be ignored and seen as something that other people are dealing with. For this reason every person matters when it comes to making a difference, the only true solution is unity.
Making America the “Land of the Free” means eliminating lines the lines between whites and blacks. If everybody moves in agreement change follows. Treat your neighbor as you want to be treated. Love everybody. It’s not hard to do, but it’s how we make a change.