Links to rhetorical tools:

Here are links to the rhetorical tools used in this class:

Schemes & Tropes -- Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca -- Fallacies

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BLM Movement- Analysis

So to recap, I was analyzing three different platforms of media, a CNN article, a TedTalk, and the #SayHerName movement on Twitter, and then I analyzed a chapter from the Persuasion and Social Movements book, and a mashup article on Understanding African American Rhetoric. These were all components of the Black Lives Matter movement that has been around for years and years and there has always been controversy about it. Some people claim that the message of the movement isn’t clear enough so a lot of people will just choose not to associate with it since they don’t know enough about it. There is also some discussion about the fact that they are not adapting to the new and upcoming society as it is changing every single day. This is where things start going wrong for the leaders of the Black Lives Matter social movement. The CNN article that I looked at had the argument of BLM not adapting well enough to their surroundings. They go into detail, using the Perelman’s argument of amplification, about why they aren’t adapting and where things are going wrong for them. The article starts off with stating the general argument, and then go into four different lengthy reasons that support their argument. One of their downfalls is the fact that they don’t cater to other communities when worrying about promotion and marketing. They are sticking within their own bubble instead of stepping out of it and not adapting to the other population of white Americans that have not openly expressed an interest in the BLM movement. They also talk about how the BLM leaders are wary of black churches due to the makeup of its leadership and the style of many black pastors. If they were able to get in with the white Americans who aren’t yet for the BLM, and support the black churches, they may have a better chance of adapting to the society. The article uses a false analogy fallacy when comparing a war to the movements’ failure. “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” and “movements that don’t learn to adjust often fizzle”. So even though the movement may very well be fizzling due to lack of adaptation, the comparison to the war is still not relevant.

Of all of the tweets that I looked at with #SayHerName, there were only a few of them that truly stood out to me and gave me what I was looking for. I found one tweet that had a picture of a man holding a sign that said ‘I Have Not Forgot About_____’, and there were multiple names on there with #SayHerName at the end of it. Of all the seven names that were on the list, only one of them was a woman’s name. He was obviously using the hashtag in the wrong way, since the entire movement is based on raising the awareness for black women’s deaths. Mostly everyone knows about all the black men who have been killed, so putting all of the men’s names on that poster was completely going against the movement’s purpose, and is therefore making it more unclear than it may have been before. The other thing that I noticed when I was searching through the tweets with this hashtag, was that the Twitter feed was the most active whenever somebody died. There was no upkeep with the tweets in between the deaths of the black women. This causes people to lose interest in the movement and move on to other things, and then eventually forget what it was about in the first place.

The video that I chose to analyze was a TedTalk done in 2016 where all three of the founders of the movement were interviewed. During the interview there were many questions that the interviewer asked and almost all of their answers were related to the leadership involved with the movement. However, they just kept circling around the word ‘leadership’ and talking about all the amazing things that the movement is about and there were never any specific examples or evidence of these amazing leadership qualities. I’m not saying that they aren’t being leaders and nothing is going right, but they use the hasty generalization fallacy to portray the fact that there is truly no other evidence in the interview to support their claim of leadership in the BLM movement. The Perelman argument of severance is also used a lot in the interview because the women have this essence of leadership, yet they don’t have actions to back it up.

From the social movements book, I analyzed the chapter on persuasion because I feel like that if the BLM movement’s persuasion skills were better, they would be able to adapt better and reach out to other audiences. Everything will be able to be clearer if they were able to persuade people and teach them exactly what the movement is about and what their goals are. Wil Linkugel, R. R. Allen, and Richard Johannesen observe that “a problem is not really a problem to an audience until they perceive it as such.” The BLM leaders know that things aren’t going right and something needs to change they just don’t know how to go about it and switch things up, so they just pretend like there isn’t a problem at all. The mashup article by Karenga focused on African American rhetoric in the 1960s, and I wanted to use this information to show that everything since then has pretty much gone downhill. Even during that time period, African-derived concepts were introduced so that all races could have an idea of what was going on and what black orature meant. If BLM was doing that right now, I think they would be in a much better place.

Now let’s talk about what they should start doing in order to help the movement grow for the future. The first thing that BLM movement leaders should do is open up the book Persuasion and Social Movements by Charles Stewart, Craig Smith, and Robert Denton, and read Chapter 3 in particular: The Persuasive Functions of Social Movements. Although the entire book would be of use to the leaders of the BLM movement, chapter 3 will be a great way to start, since essentially they just need to tweak up some things. They need to be able to understand all of the parts that go into creating a social movement and making it successful. Chapter 3 breaks it down into the past, present, and future, and everything in between that goes into social movements. The next way that I think would be helpful to the future of the BLM movement stemmed from when I was looking at the tweet with the #SayHerName. Back in my analysis, I said how I noticed that the Twitter feeds was a lot less active whenever someone hadn’t just died. The most tweets that were in the feed were right after someone had died. So I think that if they kept up with the movement and did events during the times that women weren’t dying, then people wouldn’t forget about the movement and then potentially lose interest. Because if they read something one day or one week and then it dies down completely, never to be seen again to them, then they are almost forced into losing interest in the movement. I also think that the BLM leaders should not only be catering to only their communities. They need to be able to get out of their bubble. Yes, there are white Americans who believe in the moment and are all for it, but they need to make sure that they getting out of their bubble and get more people of all races involved, not just the white Americans. Our society works in a very bandwagon way, so if one group of people sees another group of people doing something, then they will try it out just because they don’t want to feel left out. With these ideas, I’m not trying to come up with ways to solve the problem, I’m just trying to suggest some ways that they would be able to improve and adapt their movement for the future.

Works Cited
"Understanding African American Rhetoric." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2017.
Gloria. "#SayHerName Hashtag on Twitter." Twitter. Twitter, 05 May 2017. Web. 09 May 2017.
Blake, John. "Is Black Lives Matter Blowing It?" CNN. Cable News Network, 02 Aug. 2016. Web. 09 May 2017.
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. "An Interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter." Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi: An Interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter | TED Talk | N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2017.

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