Emiliano Del Rio
10 May 2017
Black Lives Matter Analysis
Since 2014 the Black Lives Matter has been at the forefront of an issue that has always existed in our country but that recently spiked in controversy, the issue of fair treatment towards african americans. In a day and age where social media is king the Black Lives Matter movement has been able to use social media to their advantage as a means of communicating, sharing art content and ideas, and even organization. Despite not having specific leaders and receiving backlash from members of the successful civil rights movement from the past century and their natural opposition Black Lives Matter has been able to successfully lead the current movement.
For my analysis of the Black Lives Matter movement I chose Black Lives Matter co-founder Yusra Khogali’s Toronto speech for my video, The Matter of Black Lives for my article, and the Black Lives Matter subreddit for my social media page. Each of these sources was very different and for that reason I had a different method for each one.
Khogali’s speech took place during a protest in Toronto that was held as a response to a terrorist attack aimed at a Quebec mosque. In her speech Khogali expresses that Muslims in Canada are under direct threat of attack as a result of living in a “white settler colonial state”. In her speech Khogali exhibits various rhetorical devices. Prior to her speech Khogali and her co-founder Alexandria Williams lead the crowd in chanting “No Muslim ban, No stolen land”, this example of epizeuxis brungs the crowds focus together onto the speech. Khogali’s use of climax in the speech when she outlines that Muslim's “dignity, honor, self-worth, self-respect” are being directly attacked in attacks such as these. In her speech Khogali brings the attack directly to the audience with transitivity by claiming that since Muslims have been attacked in Canada all Canadian Muslims are under attack. After having watched the video I read the comments where I was surprised to see almost purely negative feedback, although most of this feedback seems to be based in a pre-existing negative sentiment towards the movement
In the Matter of Black Lives article I was able to find connections to Jane Donawerth’s introduction to her Conversational Rhetoric book. In the introduction Donawerth describes a type of movement that is focused on participation from the members and strays from centralized leadership, this element of the Black Lives Matter movement is emphasized in the article and is a key aspect of the Black Lives Matter movement. The article also covers the idea of how women’s idea of communication effects the Black Lives Matter movement.
The main focus of my analysis was the social media page and subreddit of the Black Lives Matter movement, /r/BlackLivesMatter. Upon visiting the page my eye was first caught by the sidebar which serves almost as a mission statement for the page and possibly the entire movement. The sidebar quickly catches any visitor's eye as it is highly contrasted as well as in all caps with bolding throughout. At the end of the sidebar’s statement the phrase “If you can’t see why we’re exclaiming #blacklivesmatter you are part of the problem bring up the fallacies Poisoning the Well and Guilt by Association to basically state “if you are not with us you’re against us” and in a way shame those against them. In various posts on the page I was able to find various other fallacies that played well to the movement. Many submitters would make hasty generalizations from little evidence that issues such as censorship were facing them such as one submitter who felt that issues with posting about the Netflix documentary 13th were due to Facebook censoring such posts. One fallacy I found occurring frequently was one I couldn’t find in our list of fallacies, cherry picking. In many posts the submitter would use a somewhat misleading title that was based in context from the article but was made to catch readers attention, in one example an officer was suspended for an action some felt deemed having his badge taken away. The submitted took this and the fact that the officer is due to retire in two years to say that he still has his job because he is close to retirement.
These fallacies and rhetorical devices are what attract attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and have allowed it to stay at the forefront of a very important issue in our society. In our modern world information moves faster than ever but that also means it fades away just as fast. When a new issue or story rises the Black Lives Matter movement is able to bring attention to it quickly and to large audiences due to all those that participate in spreading it's word. While this may give the movement there fair share of opposition from outsiders who simply don’t like their message or the particular way they present it and older generations of civil rights activists their methods have worked to bring this issue to the faces of those who don’t already see it, albeit controversially.