The Anti-model of Blackness in a White World
Abstract: The BLM movement pushes the narrative of white supremacy infecting the justice system, and therefore putting black lives at a disadvantage. The claim is that blackness is the Anti-model of whiteness, and therefore blacks are denied the universal truth of justice equivalent to those who are white. By asserting auxeis, and calling shootings murder or execution, the BLM movement is affirming their narrative, and trying to bring attention to the injustices they’re feeling. While the BLM opposition continues to label the auxeis as hyperbole, and rejects their narrative as “victimization”.
The use of the trope Auxeis in BLM rhetoric was the most consistent trope among the three forms of media. The Auxeis is interesting because it substitutes a word for another word, and the BLM movement uses this word substitution to evoke emotion and make a claim about the injustices black people face. In the media I analyzed the most common word switch was substituting “killed” or “shot” for “murdered” or “executed”. In the article, the word “executed” is used five times. Which makes it one of the most common words used in the article next to “justice”, which was used eight times. The article analyzed, “Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering” is an opinion article written for the New York Times by Roxanne Gay. After the video of Alton Sterling’s death was released for the public eye, many formed opinions as to whether his death looked like it was a product of racist profiling. Gay frames her article on the belief that it was racist profiling, and refers to history as evidence of racial profiling. She substitutes the word execution to imply not only that the killing was unethical, but illegal. As to suggest that he was executed without a fair trial. Her goal is also to evoke emotion, to feel sorrow not only for the mistreatment of black lives, but the Sterling family’s loss.
“Mr. Sterling leaves behind family and children who will forever know that their father was executed, that the image of their father’s execution is now a permanent part of the American memory, that the image of their father’s execution may not bring them justice.” (Gay)
Gay also refers the officers involved in the shooting under the title “executioner”:
“Mr. Sterling’s past will be laid bare, every misdeed brought to light and used as justification for police officers choosing to act as judge, jury and executioner — due process in a parking lot.” (Gay)
Gay is reproducing the scene of his death, and replacing the title of the police to “judge”, “executioner”, and “jury” to further her argument that what occurred was unconstitutional.
What is interesting about this argument is that the use of auxeis, depending on whether or not you buy her argument is going to either put you for or against it. If you’re against it, you will probably call the use of “executioner” a hyperbole.
On Twitter under the “#Philando Castile” auxeis was also very present, making up 6 out of the 50 “Tweets” I analyzed, making up at a little over 10% of the data. On Twitter, the use of the word “Murdered” instead of “kill” was prevalent. @ Delo_Taylor posted “Minnesota police officer who murdered #philandocastile pleads not guilty.” (Twitter). @SJWOnTime posted, “#injusticesystem Justice for #PhilandoCastile- Murdered- Black Man- LEGAL GUN OWNER”
These posts continue the trend of Gay’s argument by using Auxeis. The trade of words serve as a contrast between legal and illegal. Accidental shooting Vs. Murder, the latter being the argument the movement is making. It also puts the cops that participate in these shootings in an “Anti-model” (Perelman, the opposite of model behavior). The duty of the cop is to protect and serve their community, and are part of the justice system. Therefore, the use of the auxeis “murderer” and “executioner” tarnishes the model of the cop, and therefore triggers the argument that black people are being deprived of justice as a universal truth (Perelman).
The video footage of a panel discussion held with Angela Davis upholds these killings as unjustified and murder, but also asserts this is all just a part of “White Supremacy” by asserting that argument, one is claiming the police killings are connected to the essence (Perelman) of white superiority. During the panel Kymone Freeman makes the argument that “You have to be a white billionaire to enjoy Americaness.” Therefore, Freeman is asserting that blackness is separate from that of being American because “Americaness” is biased and favors those who are white. This affirms that the narrative of the BLM movement pushes that black identity is separate from the American identity, and that the American identity is shroud with whiteness. “The white billionare” is therefore the model (Perelman) of the American, and that puts blackness as the anti-model, and therefore is subject of biased treatment by the justice system.
The BLM movement attempts to push their narrative of being denied justice in a white world by using auxeis, arguments of essense, and model V. anti-model arguments where they are viewed as the anti-model of “Americanness”. Meanwhile, the opposition to BLM rejects this narrative and claims the term “Murder” is exaggerating (hyperbole), and that the BLM movement is the product of victimization.