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Rhetoric in African-American History Articles

Introduction

The chosen articles on the history of African-Americans seem to be linked by individual conventions. The inner organization and content are the items that unite separate text into the united body of knowledge. History is the area where ideology, style, experience, and the depth of research intertwine to create a text that is insightful and sometimes visionary. The information and its representation is the key sphere by which articles on history are judged. Various authors fulfill this task with a different degree of professionalism and finesse. In the sphere of African-American history, authors seem to wield the information perfectly, which makes it a distinct community of discourse. In this essay, such topics will be considered as arguments drawn from the comprehensive analysis of authors’, audience expectations, rhetoric, evidence, and data processing.

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Rhetorical Goals of the Authors

The main rhetorical goal that transcends many articles on African-American history is the restoration of the image of Black people and recognition of their contribution to various significant historical events. Thus, Morrow1 analyzes the experiences of black soldiers in World War II, dismantling the myth of African-American soldiers’ inferiority (12). The author achieves that goal by filling the gap of historical knowledge related to the black people’s participation in various operations (Morrow 13). In addition, he focuses on the instances of discrimination letting the reader know what difficulties besides regular horrors of war black soldiers had to experience. Morrow does not plainly state his mission making it rather self-obvious. He uncovers the truth that the white race forgot. The same themes persist in the works of Morrow’s colleagues. For instance, Keen2 in her work analyzed the difference in the lives, attitudes, and duties of black and white soldiers in the First World War (71). The clearly stated focus is on demonstrating the discrimination and overall negativity towards African-Americans that daily occurred in the military.

The same rhetoric goals can be identified in the work of Demessie3. In her article on African-American politics and their role in the House of Representatives, she reviewed the issues of discrimination and the history of representation of the black politicians in this governmental structure (Demessie 72). Lynch4 focused on a more comprehensive task of documenting the main historical aspects of life and experiences of African Americans as an ethnicity spread across the world. There is no evident focus than a detailed enumeration of the historical milestones. Yet, the subheading division demonstrates the prevalence of discrimination-related topics. As such, the article features sub-headings such as “names and labels” or “slavery in the United States” (Lynch). Instead of yearly periodization and labeling of the periods, as it is common among other historical works, Lynch uses more stylistically nuanced sub-headings. It is clear evidence of the unique rhetoric of African American history most of which was imbued with a fighting spirit and multiple instances of oppression.

Audience’s Expectations

As for the audience’s expectations, the articles about African American history, they may differ. As almost any history book or article is expected to provide true and objective data and facts, the articles about black history serve as a source of the evidence and pure knowledge. Therefore, the authors fill their papers with it, citing contemporaries, official documents, and other reliable sources of historical information in an aspiration to remain objective.

There is another goal that readers might pursue, acquainting themselves with the works of African-American historians. For instance, certain people might search them for the proof of suffering and discrimination in an ever more increasing number of significant events for further justification of their right for being fully restored in rights. Racial discrimination, sadly, is still a phenomenon that persists worldwide, and even in the U.S. Therefore, the need for African American studies, and specifically, the history of the race is ever more evident. Hence, the specificity of the highlighting of the content and the choice of topics.

The Needs of the Field

The needs of the field may be grasped from the breadth of the issues covered in the history of the African American race. Each intellectual discovered a certain gap, an angle, from which a world event has not been studied before (Sleeter 7)5. Thus, for instance, the Second World War. The topic has been researched hundreds of times with each specific strategically or tactically significant factor reviewed. However, African American studies have brought in a fresh outlook and underlined the issues of soldier experiences, focusing on issues that were never touched. It leads to the belief that the true aim of the field is to complement the world history with a detail that was previously overlooked. History may be viewed as a monolithic field of study that has to be objective and precise, yet African American historical studies demonstrate the flawed nature of such an approach. The dominance of the white race has sterilized the history erasing the struggles of certain ethnicities and races. Therefore, the needs of the African American racial history resides with the recognition and restoration of its historic accomplishments.

Given the remaining skepticism or ignorance of certain people about the contribution of African Americans among the needs of the field one may mention the groundedness of the research in factual data. An argumentative value of the research in the sphere of the African-American experience is high, which creates additional quality imperatives for the data. The same argument applies to the soundness of explanation demonstrated in the works of Morrow, Lynch, Demessie, and Keene. Dictated by the need to demonstrate clear and rational thought, the authors organize their work not only in accordance with the timeframe but also with concepts they explain and illustrate.

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Evidence Used

The evidence used in the articles on African American history is primarily factual and statistical. The evidence used in this field of study is not significantly different from any other historical research (Zimmer)6. A certain distinctive feature seems to persist in African American studies in comparison to non-race specific historical research. The use of recollections of black people as evidence for discrimination seems to stand out. It might be equaled to the use of the opinions of contemporaries frequently utilized to describe the concept, its prevalence, or different attitudes in its assessment to fully reveal the atmosphere of the period. The same is used in African-American history. For example, Keene7 demonstrates a juxtaposition of experiences of blacks and whites illustrating the burden African Americans used to carry in addition to the struggles of a soldier at war (85).

The use of printed sources also does not seem to differ much from typical historical research. African American historians use the whole variety of books, newspapers, research articles of their colleagues, etc. However, the distinction from other fields of research is that the authors provide an extensive overview of the sources that concern the black race. It is explained by the emphasis on uncovering and studying specifically the data related to these particular people and their struggle as in general historical literature such sources are less descriptive and thorough. Thus, the field is trying to address the gap that has been persisting over hundreds of years of historical data collection. In addition, the peculiarity of the data on experiences of black people is that certain historical periods such as slavery in the U.S. is complicated by the fact that many black people did not know or were not allowed to write and conduct historical research. Therefore, intellectuals working with African-American history work in difficult conditions. They have to collect, study, and analyze data that was either biased or incomplete as it was written by white people, or often statistically insignificant to make broad claims. Despite those facts, historians still manage to uncover reliable sources of data and present them as evidence for their claims.

Evidence Analysis

The African American historians, such as Keene8 use both inductive and deductive logic. She analyses the events with making claims based on the data or produces evidence to support her claim. As such, discussing the utilities, recreation, and education often available to white soldiers she argues that this situation was the precursor to the racial disparities in ranks between white and black soldiers with the former often outsmarting them and taking higher positions in the hierarchy. Similarly, she argues that African American soldiers were initially not inferior to white ones, which she illustrates with statistics of draftee tests (Keene 76). Almost every piece of evidence used in the articles seems to contribute to the main idea that is the demonstration of the presence of inequality and scale of it, which is also distinctive in African American history.

Evidence Presentation to the Audience

The presentation of the evidence is primarily narrative. The narrative way of presentation is clearly the most widespread among historical papers. It is rather useful for demonstrating the train of thought and making an emphasis on the periodicity of events. A specificity of African American research is the use of descriptive adjectives and strong characteristics. For instance, Demessie9 in her writing uses the words ‘extraordinary’ and ‘racist’ (82). Keene used the word ‘inferior’ (71).

Not all information has a clearly indicated source. For instance, Morrow describing the numbers of Senegal soldiers fighting for France lists the number without discussing the validity of the estimation or referring to the contemporary documents (17). It is a common practice among historians to exaggerate or belittle numbers purposefully or not. Strangely, this flaw also seems to unite the articles and authors of African American history into a certain kind of unique entity as Lynch and sometimes Keene also do not provide a reference for statistical data which is typical for many historians.

Conclusion

Judging by different aspects of analysis, African American history does seem to exhibit features of a distinct community of discourse. It possesses unique rhetorical goals such as surfacing of black peoples’ sufferings. The audience treats this field as a source of data in continuing the struggle for equal rights. The needs of the field are in addressing the ties of conventional and race-specific history. Evidence and its analysis seem to be quite similar but differ in angles and data availability. The presentation also seems to stand out through its frequent descriptive language use.

Works Cited

Demessie, Menna. “African Americans in the United States House of Representatives”. Oxford Bibliographies Online Datasets, 2016, pp. 71-90, Web.

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Keene, Jennifer. “A Comparative Study of White and Black American Soldiers During the First World War, Summary.” Annales de Démographie Historique, vol. 103, no. 1, 2002, pp. 71–90.

Lynch, Hollis. “African Americans.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2018, Web.

Morrow, John H. “Black Africans in World War II: The Soldiers’ Stories”. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 632, no. 1, 2010, pp. 12-25.

Sleeter, Christine. The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A Research Review. 2010, Web.

Zimmer, Carl. “White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier.” The New York Times. 2014. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Morrow, John H. “Black Africans in World War II: The Soldiers’ Stories”. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 632, no. 1, 2010, pp. 12-25.
  2. Keene, Jennifer. “A Comparative Study of White and Black American Soldiers During the First World War, Summary.” Annales de Démographie Historique, vol. 103, no. 1, 2002, pp. 71–90.
  3. Demessie, Menna. “African Americans in the United States House of Representatives”. Oxford Bibliographies Online Datasets, 2016, pp. 71-90, Web.
  4. Lynch, Hollis. “African Americans.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Web.
  5. Sleeter, Christine. The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A Research Review. 2010, Web.
  6. Zimmer, Carl. “White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier.” The New York Times, Web.
  7. Keene, Jennifer. “A Comparative Study of White and Black American Soldiers During the First World War, Summary.” Annales de Démographie Historique, vol. 103, no. 1, 2002, pp. 71–90.
  8. Keene, Jennifer. “A Comparative Study of White and Black American Soldiers During the First World War, Summary.” Annales de Démographie Historique, vol. 103, no. 1, 2002, pp. 71–90.
  9. Demessie, Menna. “African Americans in the United States House of Representatives”. Oxford Bibliographies Online Datasets, 2016, pp. 71-90, Web.
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StudyCorgi. (2020, December 20). Rhetoric in African-American History Articles. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/rhetoric-in-african-american-history-articles/

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