Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The portrayal of a feminist.

by Vanessa Liang Xuan Wu z5079754

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The portrayal of a feminist.

What is a feminist? Who are feminists? Can someone be more of a feminist than the next person? Can males be feminists as well? The word feminist is defined in the dictionary, but there seem to be a never-ending conversation about what it is and what it should be. Despite its relatively fluid meaning, it remains often used in the media as a label. A figure who is no stranger to this label is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is a multiple award-winning novelist from Nigeria who received international fame from the wider audience when her TEDx talk “We should all be feminists” went viral and even got sampled to be featured in Beyonce’s track titled “Flawless”.

In my analysis of the following articles, I will examine how this label is not given but rather earned.

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “I Wanted to Claim My Own Name”

Erica Wagner   3 Nov 2015       Vogue

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – the feminist who sells make-up

Clare Spencer   22 Oct 2016      BBC

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘[Beyonce’s] Feminism Is Not Mine’

Natasha Bird     10 Oct 2016      Elle

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quietly Gave Birth, Refused to ‘Perform Pregnancy’

JE Reich             7 Jun 2016         Jezebel

  1. Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had a baby, not that it’s anyone’s business

Lynsey Chutel   3 Jul 2016          Quartz

The dictionary loosely defines feminists as advocates for women rights. They are often found in conversations surrounding the social problem of gender inequality. The almost universal experience of gender inequality, coupled with the portrayal of feminism in media has created a fluid but communal understanding of what feminists should be. Through my analysis, I will argue that the word ‘feminist’ has become a title that needs to be demonstrated with evidence and argued for, according to socially perceived standards.

There is a range of attitudes towards Adichie presented in these articles. Wagner(Vogue), Spencer(BBC), Reich(Jezebel) and Chutel(Quartz) gave Adichie a relatively positive evaluation while Bird(Elle) introduced one of few negative portrayals of Adichie. Despite having differing evaluations, all authors kept to four main portrayals of Adichie, a successful, opinionated, credible and feminine individual. The articles examined largely fall under the category of soft news where there is a mix of quotes from Adichie, external sources as well as authorial impressions of Adichie are incorporated in the piece. Hence evaluations are conveyed both indirectly through implication as well as explicitly through the remarks of the author.

***

The portrayal of Adichie as a successful individual who is outstanding in character and her pursuits was done both directly and indirectly in the articles. This is extensively seen in Vogue’s feature article on Adichie which is the earliest published out of the bunch that is examined.

              “She’s an award-winning novelist, a TED talk sensation and Beyoncé’s favourite feminist.”

The opening sentence of the article already presents the author’s explicit suggestions of Adichie’s success. While ‘award-winning novelist’ can be seen as an undisputed fact, ‘TED talk sensation and Beyonce’s favourite feminist’ (emphasis added) are definitely superlative descriptions that positions the audience to view Adichie’s achievements as outstanding.

              “She herself is proving to be a major force in the development of local authors: for the past eight summers she and her Nigerian publisher have hosted a writing workshop in Lagos.”

The author further attributes success to Adichie by describing her as a ‘major force’ which implies that she has created significant impact through her long commitment to the local writing community. The mention of Adichie’s service to her community can also be read as praise of her character, in the spirit of selflessness and collectivism, where the audience is likely to perceive as positive character traits.

This is further supported by an external quote from a fellow reputable author Salman Rushdie who described Adichie as “…what was so striking was her own confidence and authority. She very much held her own, and spoke fluently and powerfully, and all of us there that day could see that someone very remarkable had just arrived.” (emphasis added). This can be read as an indirect evaluation, borrowing the reputation of Salman Rushdie and his impression of Adichie, the author paints for the audience a personality portrait that is full of positive traits such as confidence, strength and intelligence.

In the articles that were later published, authors largely depended on explicit evaluations of Adichie’s achievements and her public recognition.

BBC:

“One of the world’s leading feminists…”

“The Nigerian novelist was well known in literary circles…”

Jezebel:

“Lauded Nigerian author and celebrated feminist…”

Quartz:

“Celebrated Nigerian novelist…”

“…one of the most prominent voices on feminism today…”

By conveying Adichie’s achievements in such a undisputable manner, the authors show that Adichie’s success is something that is already recognised by the wider public which is a powerful persuasive tool to convince that audience that Adichie’s success is significant, using the argument of the majority.

***

The second main portrayal of Adichie that supports the socially perceived criteria of feminists is that of an opinionated and intelligent individual. This can be seen from the heavy use of direct quotes from Adichie in all five articles. This is especially seen in Vogue’s feature article where its structural affordances allowed for long running quotes from Adichie.

              “I was still writing it when I went up to speak, and afterwards, clearly people had listened, clearly people felt strongly about it – but I let it go. So they put it online, and only then I heard about people using it in their classes, about people arguing about it at work and school.”

              …

              “I am a person who writes and tells stories. That’s what I want to talk about. There’s an obsession with celebrity that I have never had. But the one thing I will say is that I really do think Beyoncé is a force for good, as much as celebrity things go. I know there has been lot of talk in the past year about how feminism is ‘cool’ now, but I think if we are honest, it’s not a subject that’s easy. She didn’t have to do this, she could have taken on, I don’t know, world peace. Or nothing at all. And I realise that so many young people in our celebrity-obsessed world, well, suddenly they are thinking about this. And that’s a wonderful thing. So I don’t have any reservations about having said yes.” (emphasis added)

In these long running direct quote, the repeated appearance of the personal pronoun ‘I’ conveys Adichie’s personal voice and viewpoints. Her use of phrases like ‘I am’ and ‘I really do think’ also shows the reader that she is an individual who is self-aware and ready to forward her personal opinion. The presence of these long direct quotes throughout the article also presents Adichie as a coherent individual who is able to speak for herself communicate her thoughts fluently to her audience.

This is further illustrated by regularity which Adichie’s opinion become the title of the articles that are written about her.

Elle:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘[Beyonce’s] Feminism Is Not Mine’

Vogue:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “I Wanted to Claim My Own Name”

Jezebel:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quietly Gave Birth, Refused to ‘Perform Pregnancy’

Adichie is seen to be unafraid to share her original and uncensored opinions despite the possibility of attracting controversy and media attention to herself, which shows an outstanding determination to forward her personal opinions. Adichie’s opinion in presented in Elle is potentially offensive to Beyonce and her opinion in Jezebel may inspire disagreement from other mothers who have engaged in the performance of pregnancy. The author’s disagreement with Adichie’s evaluation of Beyonce’s feminism was what inspired the Elle article in the first place.

“‘Her type of feminism is not mine,’ she says. ‘As it is the kind that, at the same time, gives quite a lot of space to the necessity of men.'”

In response to Adichie’s opinion, the author argues that “The problem is that we’ve enough men and women in the world refuting the idea of feminism entirely, to be able to afford to have in-fighting among those who stand up for the concept.” (emphasis added) From the phrase ‘in-fighting’, the reader can see that the author does not question Adichie’s position as a feminist but still puts forward a negative evaluation for Adichie’s opinion against Beyonce as it is deemed to be contributing to a larger ‘problem’ rather than improving the situation. Adichie’s actions come at a cost that society is unable to ‘afford’.

A less than glowing evaluation of Adichie is similarly presented in the Jezebel article where the author describes Adichie’s decision to keep her pregnancy quiet as a “pointed effort to elaborate the gendered imbalance of ‘performing pregnancy'” as well as a “refreshing take”. This can be read as an explicit evaluation of Adichie’s intent and its subsequent impact. While the evaluation is not obviously positive, the reader is positioned to interpret it positively when it is considered in conjunction with Adichie’s status as a feminist which simply put is an advocate for change. To describe Adichie’s actions as ‘refreshing’ implies that there is something new and different about it compared to the current social norm which fulfils her role and identity and a feminist.

She is also often seen to be adopting a recommendatory tone in her speech which contributes to the construction of an opinionated character in the media.

Vogue:

I feel we need to make a space for dreaminess. But life is short. I’ll say, don’t give up your job. Get up earlier, make the space. If it matters to you, make it matter.” (emphasis added)

Elle:

I think men are lovely, but I don’t think that women should relate everything they do to men…”

We women should spend about 20 per cent of our time on men…” (emphasis added)

Adichie’s recommendatory tone can be inferred through the use of verbs such as ‘women should’ and ‘we need to’ which signals a recommendation to be followed. Through the presentation of her recommendatory opinions, Adichie is also portrayed as an intelligent and thoughtful individual. This may prompt the reader to consider her recommendations rather than brush them aside as recommendations are often given by individuals who has a certain amount of expertise and credibility in society.

Adichie’s opinionated nature is also illustrated with her ability to assert herself while under the pressure of an insistent reporter. Quoted in both Quartz and Jezebel’s article, Adichie deflects the reporter who asked for her baby’s name with “No, I won’t say.” accompanied with a “disarming smile”. She is known prefer keeping her family life private and away from media scrutiny and her actions corresponds with a pre-existing public image which presents her has an individual who defends her own opinions.

***

Thirdly, Adichie is presented as a credible figure and an authority on feminism through the use of indirect implication. In the article by BBC, the author uses implicit evaluative terms to elevate and portray Adichie as a figure of authority.

“She advised that raising a feminist didn’t mean forcing her to reject femininity: ‘Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are.’

“This lesson – to stop caring what others think – is what she says is the most important thing to pass on to daughters.”

The author foregrounds Adichie’s opinions with implicitly evaluative terms such as ‘advised’ and ‘lesson’ to suggest to the reader that Adichie is in a position who is qualified to give advice and share lessons before introducing Adichie’s actual words. This arrangement may encourage the reader to give higher regard to Adichie’s opinions as she is portrayed as a figure of authority.

Adichie’s credibility is further strengthened with validation from external sources like other feminist thinkers such as Harvard lecturer Phyllis Thompson and Abujha-based feminist Florence Warmate. In the BBC article, the author gives a brief comment that “[Adichie] is taken seriously by feminist thinkers as well” which can be analysed as a direct positive evaluation of Adichie’s credibility but she is quick to justify her evaluation with quotes from two notable feminist thinkers.

“But she says Ms Adichie’s relationship to make-up is very much in line with the “third wave feminism” of the 1990s and current post-feminism, both of which encourage women to do what makes them feel confident, and to take pleasure in their own presentation.”

              “She said that Ms Adichie’s experience of life in America, where she went to study at the age of 19, has allowed her to “take herself out of the [Nigerian] situation and properly analyse it“.

The first quote by Havard lecturer Phyllis Thompson explains and legitimises Adichie’s interest in make-up and fashion which is traditionally dismissed by feminists to be an unproductive social construct imposed on females. This not only strengthens Adichie credibility by deflecting criticism from people who subscribe to older definitions of feminism but it also further supports Adichie’s own sentiments about feminism and femininity that was shared previously.

Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are.”

The second quote by Florence Warmate also lends credibility to Adichie’s views on feminism as it suggests that Adichie’s privileged experience has gifted her with a perspective that is uncommon but helpful in forming effective analysis of the state of feminism in both Nigeria and America. Warmate’s comments serves to foreground Adichie’s recount of her experience of moving to the United States. Adichie’s presentation of her contradictive experience and her subsequent resolution gave her an opportunity to communicate her ideals and concept of feminism in a credible and convincing manner as it is based on personal experience. This shows that Adichie is capable of identifying feminism in the everyday and act upon it based on her ideals and convictions.

              “‘I was raised to care about my appearance but when I went to the US I internalised the idea that if a woman wants to be taken seriously, she can’t seem to care too much about her appearance.’ She went back to wearing make-up when she came to a realisation: ‘I don’t really care very much about what anyone else thinks.’

Adichie’s portrayal as a credible authority on feminism is also supported by celebrities such as Beyonce and Lupita Nyong’O and brand endorsements from Dior and Boots. In Vogue, Beyonce claims that “Her definition of a feminist described my own feeling…” while Nyong’O shares that “For the first time I felt that someone had found the words to express sentiments, analyse situations about the rich and varied African immigrant experience, in a way I never could.” Adichie’s success in communicating the experience of two other women of diverse backgrounds increases her credibility as it shows that her grasp and understanding of feminism has wider appeal and application. The brand endorsements are also additional recognition to the mainstream appeal of her idea of feminism.

***

Finally, Adichie is presented to be a feminine figure in the articles. This may not be the traditional perception of a feminist which often includes rejecting pursuits that are seen as feminine e.g. fashion, makeup, men, bras etc… However, it reflects Adichie’s perception of what feminism should be. As seen in BBC’s article, “She advised that raising a feminist didn’t mean forcing her to reject femininity: ‘Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are.’ While in Vogue, she is portrayed to “do all these drawings for [her] clothes”, have “her favourite make-up artist” get her ready for the photo shoot where she is seen “in a neat-waisted patterned dress and teetering lavender heels that are utterly unsuited to the sandy ground”. Adichie’s interest in fashion and makeup despite the fact that it is time-consuming and sometimes impractical as it requires her to “teeter” in heels that are “unsuited to the sandy ground” is presented alongside her success as a feminist.

Another feminine quality that is emphasised in the articles is Adichie’s frequent laughter and smiles. This is especially highlighted in Vogue “You might guess from looking at photographs of her that she is a very serious person, but her laughter comes easily and often.”, “She throws backs her head and laughs.” and “…laughing again.”. Additionally, her attempt at using her feminine charm to disengage the reporter is seen in Quartz and Jezebel where she flashes a “disarming smile” in response to a question that she is not willing to answer. Adichie is shown to have managed being a feminist while being feminine and this persuades the reader to agree with Adichie’s perception of feminism and further reinforces Adichie’s claim to the label of a feminist.

This particular characterisation is further enhanced with the photos that are featured in the articles.

BBC:

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Vogue:

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Elle:

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Jezebel:

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Quartz:

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Even in photographs Adichie is shown to have both a serious and relaxed side. This can be explicitly seen from Vogue and Elle who used more than one photo in their article, each featuring Adichie with contrasting serious and smiling expressions. From the pictures, one can easily tell that Adichie is a well dressed and well groomed individual but it does not stop her from being a feminist and engaging in serious intellectual conversation about this difficult topic. This is expressed in the photographs found in Jezebel and Quartz. In Jezebel’s photo, Adichie is seen to be well dressed and well groomed but she is at an award ceremony for Women Prize For Fiction. Her care for her appearance is shown to be not contradictory to her career success and achievement. While in Quartz’s photo, Adichie is shown to have a serious and thoughtful expression while she is getting her hair and makeup done by others. This photo accurately reflects Adichie’s perception of feminism that is portrayed in media and its physical representation by Adichie herself is a powerful persuasive tool for readers to believe Adichie’s perspective and validate her status as a feminist.

With the exception of Vogue, the other articles portrayed Adichie in a close up shot from a level angle. This creates a personal atmosphere that prepares the reader to get to know Adichie as an individual in the article. The use of close portraits also places sole focus on Adichie which suggests that she is someone of certain importance and power, whose words should matter and carry weight.

In conclusion, the media frequently uses the label ‘feminist’ to describe individuals but it remains something that requires justification. As seen from the analysis above, the process of justifying it requires careful navigation between its dictionary definition, social definition and individual definition. The media has constructed a variety of representations of Adichie but analysis shows that they were all working from the same socially defined framework of what a feminist is: successful, opinionated, credible and feminine. Their evaluations of Adichie were similarly based on an agreement that feminism is a desirable positive force in society.

 

References

Spencer, C. (2016). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – the feminist who sells make-up – BBC News. [online] BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37676472 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Wagner, E. (2015). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “I Wanted To Claim My Own Name”. [online] British Vogue. Available at: http://www.vogue.co.uk/article/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-novelist-ted-speaker-interview [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Bird, N. (2016). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘[Beyoncé’s] Feminism Is Not Mine’. [online] ELLE UK. Available at: http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/culture/news/a32225/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-beyonces-feminism-is-not-mine-interview/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Reich, J. (2016). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quitly Gave Birth, Refused to ‘Perform Pregnancy’. [online] Jezebel.com. Available at: http://jezebel.com/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-quietly-gave-birth-refused-to-1783171806 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Chutel, L. (2016). Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had a baby, not that it’s anyone’s business. [online] Quartz. Available at: http://qz.com/722822/award-winning-author-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-has-had-a-baby-not-that-its-anyones-business/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

 

Media Analysis Task 4: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Vanessa Liang Xuan Wu z5079754 Friday 1030

In the final assignment, I will examine how Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is portrayed in the media. She is an award-winning author that is regularly identified in the media as a feminist following her TEDTalk titled: “We should all be feminists.” which was later sampled for use in a Beyonce song. I think that she will be an interesting subject for analysis due to her multiple identities such as a writer, speaker, fashionista, feminist, women of colour etc.

Here are some articles that I am considering:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – the feminist who sells make-up

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quietly Gave Birth, Refused to ‘Perform Pregnancy’

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “I Wanted To Claim My Own Name”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Is The New Face Of Boots No7

Media Analysis: Black Lives Matter

by Vanessa Liang Xuan Wu z5079754

The multiple instances of African Americans involved in fatal police shootings reported in the past few months has led to intense media coverage about its surrounding issues. America has a long history of racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans and along with it, repeated rounds of Civil Rights Movements. The raw display of violence in these fatal police shootings has stirred emotions in many people and got them questioning the progress they have made as a society regarding racism and civil rights. “Am I Going to Write About Murdered Black People Forever? by Kara Brown and “This Country Needs a Truth and Reconciliation Process on Violence Against African Americans – Right Now by Faina Davis are both emotional responses to an emotionally charged issue. However, they remain persuasive in their arguments as they employ various strategies to provide sound justification for their argumentation.

Brown offers an evaluative argument with recommendation that is not overtly expressed in the article. While her generally negative evaluation of the situation is repeatedly hinted at throughout the article, her recommendation is highly dependent on the reader’s inference. Brown expresses hopelessness and futility in the long-drawn-out efforts towards racial violence and discrimination but suggests that her audience should still continue to take real action as it is the only hope for change in the future. Brown’s sense of disillusionment can be detected from the title of the article which is a provoking rhetorical question, “Am I Going to Write About Murdered Black People Forever?”. The depressing thought of having to deal with unjustified deaths for eternity sets the tone for the rest of her article.

The title of Davis’ article serves a similar purpose by setting a clear tone and direction for her article. The title is so direct that it even be taken as her central claim which is an “urgent” need for a Truth and Reconciliation Process.  However unlike Brown, Davis assumes the negativity of the situation and proceed to provide her recommendation of how the situation may possibly be corrected.

Today, my focus is on restorative justice, which I believe offers a way for us to collectively face this epidemic , expose its deep historical roots, and stop it.

Her recommendatory claim is explicitly stated once again in the beginning section of the article and the rest of the article was devoted to justifying her claim.

Both articles begin with an emotional appeal to the reader by introducing personal experience that reveals personal pain and grief in the face of racial violence. This is evident in the use of the pronouns “I”, “me” and “my” in the beginning paragraphs which allows the writer to build emotional proximity with their readers.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to fight the sense that, for the rest of my life, I’ll be writing about black Americans who’ve been killed, in one way or another, by the police.

In the time it took me to write about one fatal police shooting, another occurred.

With these two sentences, Brown introduces the reader to her everyday experience of racial violence. While she remains largely an observer of the issue, it still has real and immediate impact on herself that the reader can probably relate to.

I am among the millions who have experienced the shock, grief, and fury of losing someone to racial violence.

When I was 15, two close friends were killed in the Birmingham Sunday School bombing carried out by white supremacists trying to terrorize the rising civil rights movement. Only six years later, my husband was shot and nearly killed by police who broke into our home, all because of our activism at the time, especially in support of the Black Panthers.

After more than three decades of all the fighting, I started to feel out of balance and intuitively knew I needed more healing energies in my life.

Similarly, Davis introduced examples of personal involvement in events of racial violence. However, her direct involvement not only builds an emotional connection with the reader by evoking sympathy, but also establishes herself as an authority on the issue. Davis’ firsthand experience with racism on people that are close to her such as her friends, husband and sister coupled with her formal capacity as a civil rights trial lawyer, a PhD in a related area of study and her vast experience as a community organizer translates into a credible voice that is capable of making well considered suggestions to improve the situation. The authority that Davis positions herself to be is not one that is particularly impartial as that is easily challenged by possible emotional bias due to her proximity and firsthand experience of the issue. Instead, her authority is suggested through her knowledge and awareness of social realities and how to overcome them.

Both Davis and Brown appealed to the facts of the matter so as to suggest a need for action and change. They do so by drawing reference to relatively recent deaths of African Americans such as “Michael Brown” and “Eric Garner” in Davis’ article and “Alton Sterling” and “Philando Castile” in Brown’s article. By doing so, they remind the reader that the problem of racism is still very real and evident in current day context and its severity is clear to see from how it has resulted in the loss of lives. This helps to build  a transition for both writers to introduce their recommendations to their reader who has hopefully been made more receptive to their suggestions after being presented with multiple tragedies that need to be kept from happening again.

Another strategy that Davis employs to encourage readers to be more receptive to her recommendation is to appeal to ethics.

Importantly, the process would also create skillfully facilitated dialogue where responsible parties engage in public truth-telling and take responsibility for wrongdoing.

The idea where “responsible parties engage in public truth-telling and take responsibility for wrongdoing” is in keeping with the general belief that one should have integrity and take responsibility for whatever wrongs one has committed. This sentence was strategically placed right before Davis launched in to her list of hypothetical benefits that stand to be reaped if her recommendation for a truth and reconciliation process is realised. Its strategic placement encourages the reader to be more open to her suggestion as they find that their ethical beliefs are aligned with the writer and her suggestion should be an extension of that particular belief.

The appeal to consequence is heavily employed in Davis’ argument for her recommendation. She attempts to explain how the process would work, what could be and should be done to realise this particular vision so as to reap its long list of positive benefits (emphasised in bold).

And the impact wouldn’t be for Ferguson alone.

Bearing in mind its expansive historical context, the Truth and Reconciliation process would set us on a collective search for shared truths about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of extrajudicial killings of black youth, say, for the last two decades. Through the process, those truths will be told, understood, and made known far and wide. Its task would also include facing and beginning to heal the massive historical harms that threaten us all as a nation but take the lives of black and brown children especially. We would utilize the latest insights and methodologies from the field of trauma healing.

This is urgent. Continued failure to deal with our country’s race-based historical traumas dooms us to perpetually re-enact them.

Though national in scope, the inquiry would zero in on the city of Ferguson and several other key cities across the country that have been the site of extrajudicial killings during the last decade. Specifics like this are best left to a collaborative, inclusive, and community-based planning process.

The process will create public spaces where we face together the epidemic of killings and its root causes, identify the needs and responsibilities of those affected, and also figure out what to do as a nation to heal harms and restore relationships and institutions to forge a new future.

And, if history is any guide, it could result in restitution to those harmed, memorials to the fallen, including films, statues, museums, street renamings, public art, or theatrical re-enactments. It might also engender calls to use restorative and other practices to stop violence and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration strategies. New curricula could emerge that teach both about historic injustices and movements resisting those injustices. Teach-ins, police trainings, restorative policing practices, and police review commissions are also among the universe of possibilities.

[Emphasis added]

Davis also provides concrete details of the plan such as “create safe public spaces”, “utilize the latest insights and methodologies from the field of trauma healing” and “zero in on the city of Ferguson” to assure her readers of her illustration of an unrealised future through grounding it in the physical space and pre-existing frameworks. This helps to make her vision more believable to the reader only to a certain extent but it is further supported by an appeal to precedent as well as an appeal to comparison which comes right after in the article.

There are precedents for this approach: Some 40 Truth and Reconciliation Commissions have been launched worldwide to transform historical and mass social harms such as those we are facing. Their experiences could help light a way forward.

Davis highlights four different commissions, “South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, “Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, “Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission” and a truth commission between Main’s governor and indigenous tribal chiefs. She uses these examples as models of progress and success to convince her reader that her recommendation can definitely be looked upon as a realistic future as well as step in the right direction.

Davis arguments focus on the appeal to consequence, precedent and comparison and similar elements can definitely be found in Brown’s writing. However, these elements are seen to be in support of a larger ethical argument that is heavily rhetorical.

And we write again, and wonder: is this just the way of things now? How much time will I spend finding the correct words to say that the color of a person’s skin is not justification for ending their life? And how much time will elapse until those words mean anything to the people who actually kill us?

Brown’s series of rhetorical questions illustrates her negative evaluation of racial violence by imparting a sense of disbelief that such atrocities are continuing to take place although it so clearly goes against the ethical frameworks of rights and fairness.

Davis recommendatory claim is justified with the potential good consequences of the future. However in Brown’s negative evaluation of the issue, she highlights the negative consequences of racism.

A black life is stolen and we must now struggle to measure the pain and remember that none of our lives are really safe. We must sit with the footage of these incidents, which fill in what our imagination would write otherwise, and wonder if one of these horrifying videos will ever result in change. So far they have not. Some people will sit with their children to teach them to be cautious around state agents ostensibly tasked with protecting them. Some will cry and some will rage. Some of us will write.

The state and white supremacy have perfectly crafted yet another tactic to keep us scared and compliant.

[Emphasis added]

Brown emphasises the potential emotional pain that one has to go through with every incident (emphasised in bold). While hypothetical and generalised in nature, it supports her rhetoric that racial violence has no place in ethical society. Living in pain and horror while having to be fearful and cautious is definitely not in keeping with the universal code of ethics but it is argued to be the general experience of the African American population.

To further express hopelessness, Brown also appeals to precedent and analogy.

We cannot appeal to a national conscience when, as Stokely Carmichael reminded us, there is none.

 As with lynching, it’s less about the total loss of life—though the numbers are horrific—and more about the constant state of fear it breeds, audible and visible in the way Philando Castile’s girlfriend refers to the officer who just shot her boyfriend as “sir.”

By bringing in the example of Stokely Carmichael and lynching, she evokes memories of a period in the past where there was a high climate of racism. The effect of this move is twofold. Firstly, it helps to convince the reader that the dire state of racial violence today is comparable to moments in the past where it got so serious that the event and persons involved are still remembered to this day. Secondly, it serves as a hint to her recommendation to the situation. “We cannot appeal to a national conscience when… there is none.” Brown suggests that any hope for change can only be brought about through continued action as improvement was only ever seen in times where action was taken. In combination, it suggests to the reader that it is crucial that we continue to take action although the results to show for all these efforts are discouraging as it is the only way we can continue to hope for change.

Brown uses the appeal to ethics as the main support for her argument. This is seen in her use of strong and provoking rhetorical statements.

We raise funds for victims and they raise more money for the killer cops. We push for accountability and they tell us a child deserved to die.

The clear distinction between “we” and “they” mirrors her binary assessment of racism and racial violence in society. There is simply no place for their negative presence and any efforts that goes against that belief is regarded as the other. Brown’s provocative phrases such as “killer cops” and “a child deserved to die” are clearly against ethics. The role of the police is to enforce laws that are meant to protect citizens while no child is ever deserving of death as they as symbols of innocence. Brown’s rhetoric is can be seen as an attempt to draw comparison in the holes of ethical reasoning in social reality.

In conclusion, Brown’s approach of argument may appear to be merely opinion due to her heavy use of appeal to ethics but in close reading, that is not the case. Often in ethical rhetoric, the writers ethical perspectives and justification may be one and the same. Brown’s article repeated feature of rhetorical statements are in fact justifications for her evaluation. While Davis’ and Brown’s approach to their response towards racial violence is rather different, it is interesting to see that they ultimately share the same recommendation.