There are numerous ways we could have closed the reading portion of this course this semester, but I am so glad that we went with Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy. It not only brings us full circle from starting with the endoftheworld podcast discussion of electoral politics, it also emphasizes the importance of appreciating the small acts and actions towards liberation: the everyday acts. To start our discussion I would like to share a screenshot of an Instagram repost from the author.
This image is a repost of a pictorial interpretation of an image of dandelions as natural brilliance, with a woman of color blowing out dandelion’s seeds, showering a gathering of people planting and watering other wild flowers, together. There is also an image of the roots growing under them, which calls up the oak trees metaphor Brown also brings up in her work. I was struck by the explanation of how oak trees’ roots protect them from the storms, thinking specifically of storms that my people survived recently.
Interestingly, there is mention of this particular storm–hurricane María, in a recent video from The Intercept, where AOC explains (and imagines via illustrations from Molly Crabapple) the future after passing the Green New Deal.
Perhaps these examples can help us reflect on the emphasis of this course, of going Beyond Electoral Politics, and engaging Public Advocacy in Everyday Life. How do they illuminate the objectives of this course?
- Identify and describe different rhetorical approaches, specifically focusing on the use of (multi)modality towards public advocacy in a wide range of efforts.
- Recognize the ethical and pragmatic dimensions involved in such efforts.
- Critically consider the rhetorical situations within which everyday public advocacy occurs, and their relation to different composition processes.
In pairs, consider each bullet point above and reflect on the examples I’ve provided, as well as the readings assigned. How will you apply these insights to your own work?
- Produce supplemental material for an existing organization.
The rest of the time will be spent talking through the progress of your work.
A loose plan for today: After going over your thoughts on the panel from last week, as well as the online exercise, here are a few resources I would like for us to think with and through:
The main questions I would like for us to address are:
- How would you define decolonization?
- How does the American Indian Movement factor into your understanding of public advocacy in the US?
- What are some of your lingering questions or concerns regarding the reading?
First, let’s talk through what you thought of Jessica Wilkerson’s presentation of her book last Thursday! How do you see it connecting to our class?
For today, discussing the readings assigned should illuminate the importance of considering public advocacy in rhetorical situations that are embedded, yet expansive in their implications.
For example, Christa Teston’s “Rhetoric, Precarity, and mHealth Technologies” certainly addresses the importance of paying attention to situations, as she employs a situational analysis of wearable and mobile technologies of health. There are competing expressions of the impact of these technologies from individuals to a more nuanced consideration of these individuals’ societal position and location. She suggests the concept of precarity as one analytical frame that helps explain the importance of paying attention to the systematic issues affecting peoples’ health.
On the other hand, in the American Public Health Association’s brief on “The Power of Advocacy” we get a more hopeful consideration of the impact that individual’s advocacy efforts would have on general policies regarding health concerns impacting the various populations/constituents represented in governmental bodies. In a way, this one-page brief provides suggestions about what can be done in response to the precarity articulated by the participants in Teston’s study. However, do you think that would be enough?
- For today’s discussion I would like us to return to the various readings we’ve done in the past to connect several insights we’ve already garnered in relation to publics, advocacy, everyday, and multilayered rhetorical situations.
- After considering these concepts, I would like us to address more contemporary situations and challenges from a transnational perspective:
Since it has been a while, I would like for us to go back to a few of the brief conversations that we had the few weeks before spring break, which could also apply to today’s readings. Mainly, I want to emphasize (multi)modality in public advocacy:
- What do you make of Warren-Reilly and Versoza Hurley’s piece, especially their distinction between public advocacy and activism? This question is inspired by a presentation I did during 4C’s (which was held during spring break).
- How would you put your experiences (in this course and otherwise) with digital rhetorics and public advocacy with the work of the writers assigned for Week 9? You can talk through the work as presented by Sawyer, but I would like you to hone in on how digital rhetorics is enmeshed in/with public advocacy.
- Lastly, how does form and content affect (or afford) public advocacy? Here I am referring to the previous readings, but also, and perhaps more specifically, on the ones for this week.
Games and Advocacy
As previously, this week we read a variety of authors from different disciplines, including an avid gamer and staff writer of VentureBeat, Information and Technology Sciences scholars, and a more closely related writer trained in rhetoric.
Melissa Bianchi’s work offers an extension of a few conversations we’ve had in this class previously: mainly that of digital rhetorics and environmental studies. Jennifer Stromer-Galley and others present some interesting insights about gender-switching in online games, but how could we put these two articles together? How does action in real-life get mimicked or transferred to online spaces, and aren’t these already real life? Moreover, how is Jeff Grubb’s article presenting information that is classified as public advocacy?
This week we will be talking about the concept of “community.” Like other weeks, we should think about the potential of this word when it is used in public advocacy efforts, but also the complexity of forming community, when there is the potential of exclusion. The readings assigned for today get at this complexity, especially in relation to Chicana activism. Reading Kendall León’s “La Hermandad and Chicanas Organizing: The Community Rhetoric of the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional” and Ellen M. Gil-Gómez’ “Lesbianas Unidas: Shaping Nation Through Community Activist Rhetorics” provides two distinct positions around the same organization. In other words, even while attempting to build community, the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional is admonished for creating exclusions.
How does history factor into identity building? What role does writing play into the formation of activist/intellectual projects? How does that writing look like? What tensions come up in the process of pursuing a liberatory project?
Beyond the questions that can come up in trying to form coalitions that are inclusive and intersectional, it is important to understand the broader idea of “a” Latinx community, that is, there is no one universal Latinx ideal. This happens because of the inherent plurality enveloped in the term: many different people from different countries, or different genealogies, embodying different identities, advocating for different priorities. However, there are some concerns that are distinct for Latinx folks, and it is important to consider some of these as part of a common agenda for community activism.
Focusing on the medium of radio, today we will have Victor Palomino from El Pulso Latino–Lexington Community Radio. We are thankful to have him talk to us about how community radio itself is a way to give voice to the people, especially those who may not be able to identify themselves in any other station. What are some of the ways in which El Pulso Latino engages in public, or community advocacy or activism?
This week we will be discussing the philosophical and ethical concerns that come up when engaging in public work, especially that which is critical of the state. First, though, we should catch up with a few assignments:
— Visualizing Public Advocacy–Done!
–Encountering Public Advocacy
On Risk and Asymmetrical Power
Before discussing the specifics of the work by Tamika Carey and Ben Keubrich, I wanted to point to the two dimension that they are addressing. One of them is social media, and the other one is community publishing. What do you think are the affordances and constraints of each of these?
After considering the following quotes: what can we say about risk in public work?
Speaking truth to power requires either significant risk or a certain degree of privilege. For this reason, it is important for scholars who are outsiders to participate by taking direction from neighborhood residents, not pushing them with academic prescriptions of civility nor with privileged notions of popular outrage. (Keubrich 579-580)
The risks awaiting black woman intellectuals who endeavor to speak freely and freely speak in highly surveilled spaces are growing; however…rhetorical research prioritizing exceptional communication over the consequences raced and gendered groups such as black women face in ordinary exchanges and compared to dominant groups is incomplete and partially irresponsible. (Carey 157)
Why is it important for us to consider the ethical implications of public work?
There are also notions about collective/individual work that is discussed throughout the readings. How can we update our considerations of this aspect of public advocacy?
For Thursday, please listen to this podcast episode featuring DeBraun Thomas in preparation for our conversation.
Please refer to the feedback I provided on your blog posts and let me know if you have any questions. We should also revisit the prompt for the Visualizing Advocacy assignment, as it is due on Thursday. We will be doing the African American Heritage Trail field trip on Thursday, so we should also talk through logistics about that.
Continuing our conversations about resistance, this week’s readings relate stories that are located in specific geographic, geopolitical settings. The stories that these places tell about their history, according to the authors, provides rich rhetorical understandings of their views around race and racism. Because this week we will be visiting Lexington’s expressions of history, I hope today we can develop a set of questions that we can ask ourselves based on the readings. We will use this Google Doc to construct these questions together.
Let’s keep in mind that these, or similar questions were also brought up by Ariana Curtis in her TEDtalk on how museums should honor the everyday: