Discursive Responses to Black Lives Matter: White Fragility, Political Correctness, and Respectability Politics
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis paper will explore how shame and fragility around whiteness manifest themselves as refutations of the Black Lives Matter movement through two rhetorical strategies: accusing protestors of "political correctness" and utilizing respectability politics to criticize the form of protests without addressing their contents. The poetry pieces of Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, and Claudia Rankine from three different political eras show how different elements of the current Black Lives Matter framework, namely, intersectionality, black humanity, and black love, build off of a tradition of black feminism. This paper will examine why the state and the general population consider some speech to be violent and some warranting protection and how this corresponds, intentionally and unintentionally, with the existing racial hierarchy. Popular culture and the government often consider speech that calls out racism as a violent act while granting constitutional protections and arguments of free speech to the words (and actions) that promote racism. Countering this double standard requires a continued focus on protesting, discussing racism, and recognizing the rhetorical mechanisms that make this line of reasoning the mainstream.
Degree ProgramHonors College