The Rhetorical Analysis of “He’s Not Black” by Marie Arana| Likita M. Taylor| ITT Tech| ENG: 1320: Composition I| 10/30/2012| | Rhetorical Analysis of “He’s Not Black” by Marie Arana I selected “He’s Not Black” by Marie Arana. Arana discusses a topic that affects all of us today; especially “minorities” in America; how do we define ourselves racially. Like most of us, the author has many different heritages in her ancestry.
I like how she described a public figure, in this case being President Barrack Obama; to illustrate how America is quick to identify someone to one particular race and ignore the fact that we all have different types of “racial blood. ” The election of President Obama caused many people to realize that we now have a “minority” in office which was a breakthrough in American history. To blacks, this gave them hope that we finally have a “black man” as President.
However, this victory is much more that the “personification of African American achievement. ” His victory represents a coming together of all races, for after many years of seeing political figures mainly ruled by white supremacy, it gives the whole world hope that we will now finally see world leaders for their intellect and character, rather than their background or skin color. While we welcome the change, the author drives home an important point, we must change the way we see each other and not use the old rule of “half black is all black. Using a Popular Political Figure to Create a Sense of Authority The author illustrates our current President Barrack Obama to describe her own experience of her racial background thus appealing to our sense of “ethos” or creditability. She compares his racial background; being a child of a white Kansan mother and a foreign father, to her own similar background. In doing this, she points out that his background is more similar to Latin Americans rather than to blacks, who often trace their lineage back to slaves.
This brings home her point that Obama isn’t “black” as most African-Americans tend to identify themselves, but rather a biracial, bicultural human being. She goes on with this rhetorical tactic by using her recent experience of finding out her multiracial identity was brought to her attention when she got her results from a DNA ancestry lab. She realized her ancestral ties weren’t as cut and dry as “half North American and half South American, but rather a descendant of all the world’s major races.
She also talks about how Latinos are more appreciative of the fact that they are more “mixed up than other races. Most of this is true partly because interracial marriage was highly encouraged during colonization times. Other examples of creditability she uses from Obama himself in his memoir Dreams from My Father where he writes, “I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America. ” She also includes an excerpt from Langston Hughes who wrote “I am not black. There are lots of different kinds of blood in our family….
The word ‘Negro is used to mean anyone who has Negro blood …in his veins…I am brown. ” How use of Reasoning Proves the Authors Point The author goes on to make good use of “logos” or reasoning with the reader by bringing up many valid points to support her argument. She makes the comment that after “300 years and much difficult history, we hew to the old racist rule: Part black is all black. ” She proves how inaccurate it is to see Obama and his election in terms of black and white by bringing up his history of having a “Kansan mother and a foreign father. She also gives several historical examples to validate her point, by referring to how the Catholic Church prospered from mixed marriages, “wanting to multiply its ranks and expand it influence,” by being prepared to bless any union between two bearing their faith, no matter their race. These examples of interracial marriage prove, according to the author, that it represents a “body blow to American racism. ” Bringing together Logos and Ethos to appeal to a Person’s Emotions (Pathos)
Using these two rhetorical tactics, she intertwines a person’s emotions or “pathos” by asking questions to influence her readers. For instance, after quoting Obama from his memoir Dreams from my Father, she dares comments, “You can almost feel the youth struggling with his identity. She makes her readers have second thoughts and even invites them to change their current thinking by asking, “Why don’t we recognize this as the revolutionary wave that it is? Why can’t we find words to describe it? She appeals to our sense of fear that we should dare change our thinking that the appearance of a person cannot be explained by one particular race. In her conclusion she says “the color of a president elect’s skin doesn’t tell you much…. It’s a deceptive form of packaging. Isn’t it time to stop using labels that validate the separation of races? Isn’t it time for the language to move on? ” Asking these questions encourages her readers to really take time to consider thinking differently about race, which will in turn help us gain a sense of belonging and appreciation for a person rather than their skin color.