Violence as Literacy

The great Angela Davis discusses violence as literacy in an interview, and responds to leading questions from the interviewer. The interviewer asks Davis to elaborate on how the Black Panthers Party utilizes violence, assuming that they do in the first place. Davis responds by calling out the interviewer on his assumptions and goes on to talk about her experiences with violence. She uses pathos by telling stories of many African Americans and their day-to-day lives dealing with discriminatory police and violence around. Then, she further appeals to the emotion by telling her own story of the fear and experience that violence from white Americans bring to African Americans. She uses logos to connect how violence is something that they grew up to, yet want to move away from. She exclaims that the question the interviewer asks her, how the panthers will use violence in their tactics, doesn’t make sense because it’s the very thing that the panthers are against. The panthers are against this violence, racism, and discrimination that has been directed towards them for the longest amount of time. She says that people who ask questions like this, about violence, have no idea what violence black people have faced and continue to face. Davis uses kairos to effectively time her rhetorical appeals, using pathos first to engage and persuade the audience, with logos to make her audience understand her statement.

Davis’ interview can shape our understanding of language as a tool of violence. Language can be violent and it can be more powerful than violence. Language is a powerful tool that has been used negatively towards African Americans to discriminate them and render them inferior than the white community. If language has the power to do this and keep a race oppressed for a long time, then it also has the power to create the opposite effect. It has the power to create confidence, build power, and create change. Language has the power to liberate and organize a revolution.


Natalie Ortiz


3 thoughts on “Violence as Literacy

  1. You did a really good job of showing what forms of rhetoric were used in interview! I agree with your statement that “Language can be violent and it can be more powerful than violence.” It’s very true that words can be more painful, and this has, and still is shown in the civil rights movement and currently, as well.


  2. I really love your last paragraph. It speaks so much truth. I really agree with the line “If language has the power to…keep a race oppressed for a long time, then it also has the power to create the opposite effect.” This shows how powerful language really is and I think it’s crazy that it can have such a large affect in society.


  3. I agree on how language can be more powerful than violence. I felt like language causes violence because of how powerful it is. I also like how you connect all your ideas with rhetoric triangle.


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