from Canvas homework responses…
Rankine uses the Marxist perspective in her essay to represent a group that is disempowered. This perspective gives her essay an angry tone as she explains the injustice of the racial discrimination against Serena Williams. Rankine uses powerful metaphors in her essay such as “graphite against a sharp white background” (26) to emphasize her point. Rankine seeks to justify Serena’s outbursts against the bad calls made by the referee by saying “it is difficult not to applaud her for reacting immediately to being thrown against a sharp white background” (29) causing the reader to reconsider how to view Serena’s angry outbursts. This urges the audience to see Serena as more of a hero rather than an immature tennis player.
Rankine furthers the predominant forms of contemporary rhetoric by discussing racial bias with respect to historically significant and controversial athletes of color. When writing about Serena Williams’ outbursts at the 2009 Women’s US Open final, Rankine illustrates the perspective a viewer – one who doesn’t understand the racial injustices that Williams is subjected to – has during the match. “…witnessing the expression of this more ordinary and daily anger might make the witness believe that a person is ‘insane’…Nothing, not even the repetition of negations she employed in a similar situation years before as a younger player at the 2004 US Open, prepares you for this. Oh my God, she’s gone crazy, you say to no one” (Rankine, 24-25). By contrasting such a statement with Williams’ own belief that she “feels most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background,” Rankine effectively illustrates the error in judgement from the majority when Williams freely expresses her disappointment and frustration, effectively placing the audience in Williams’ position.
As for the relation to contemporary culture, rhetoric takes on many forms depending upon the person who employs its usage. These inherent differences in individuals across cultures is reflected in how we interpret one’s message – often negatively. For example, Williams partook in a celebratory dance at the 2012 Olympics after winning two gold medals in tennis; the American media portrayed Serena as “Crip-walking all over the most lily-white place in the world…You couldn’t help but shake your head…What Serena did was akin to cracking a tasteless, X-rated joke inside a church…What she did was immature and classless” (Rankine, 33). This occurrence highlights the flawed mechanism of self-interpretation with respect to another’s actions; most often demonized are minorities such as Williams, whose every little expression of emotion, no matter how innocent, is negatively exaggerated. Whereas another individual of another race or color would have most likely expressed the same emotion in another action or form, it needs to stated and emphasized that differences in rhetoric appeal result in different interpretations.