The Rhetoric of Race: Toward a Revolutionary Construction of Black Identity
This book analyzes the work of the primary articulators of black identity: W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and Amiri Baraka. The intention is to discuss and critique their ideas in order to show how their individual efforts at creating self-defined, self-sustaining notions of black identity falter. This book seeks to move in the direction of a revolutionary construction of black identity framed by the following theoretical positions: the reclamation of victimization, replicating a negative, and the call-response. Using rhetoric as my touchstone, this study takes a philosophical turn by introducing the work of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. Foucault is used to discuss black identity’s potential resistance to power while Deleuze provided me with language to discuss the possibility of black identity folding in onto itself creating an internal space. Though a part of the external, this internal space becomes a place where black identity can encounter all historical aspects of itself by saying what it was, is, and will be. Additionally, I argue that this internal encounter with its multiple selves, can lead black identity to project a positive self-defined identity when it turns outward to face the external. I conclude by using the work of Barbara Smith, bell hooks and other black women scholars who, I think, move toward revolutionary black identity. Chapter Five serves as praxis and conclusion where I discuss hip-hop music. I argue that using its cultural and language force, hip-hop has the power to create positive notions of black identity for the youth.