The Rhetoric of Race: Toward a Revolutionary Construction of Black Identity

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2006


Campus Only

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Kathleen Glenister Roberts

Committee Member

Pat Arneson


Alain Locke, Amiri Baraka, black idenity, black identity and construction, Du Bois, rhetoric and race


Focusing on black identity construction, the first three chapters of The Rhetoric of Race: Toward a Revolutionary Construction of Black Identity analyzes specific artifacts left by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, Dr. Alain Locke, and Amiri Baraka. My intention is to discuss and critique these primary articulators of black identity in order to show how their individual efforts at creating self-defined, self-sustaining notions of black identity falters. This dissertation then 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 dissertation takes a philosophical turn by introducing the work of Michele 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 Chapter Four by using the work of Dr. Barbara Smith, Dr. 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.





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