Angela Davis was a proficient writer, black feminist, and social activist. Along with being an excellent writer, she will always be remembered as the black people’s pride. Her audacity, clarity of vision and the power of her words make her distinguished from others. Over thirty years, Davis used her power of words to write on sensitive issues like racism and feminism, imprisonment and liberation. The context of Davis’s writings, interviews and speeches used to revolve around progressive politics. Her intellectualism and audacity made her the oppressed black community’s vocal person and a hope for freedom. The essay presents a rhetorical analysis of the techniques employed by Angela Davis in her article: Masked Racism: Reflections on the prison industrial complex. In the article, she has unveiled the prison and punishment industry as being racial biased in America.
Her targeted audience was her ethnic race, the oppressed black community, who have long been fighting for their individuality. Her robust analysis and powerful words made her more significant activist of her time. The projection of her ideas concerning the prison-industrial complex successfully captivated the national attention and led to the prison reform drives.
In masked racism, Angela Davis has presented the prison system as a weapon for repression. Not only are humans captivated, but their individuality, dreams, and intellects are also chained up. Hundreds and thousands of people live in the oppressed state just on the basis of their color or societal disparity. Many liberation efforts of the poverty ensconced people are slightly veiled by the term “crime,” and America’s jail system serves to disappear these people. She was of a strong notion that prisons of any society have the potential to reflect much about it.
There is extensive use of logos and supporting evidence in Angela Davis’s writings and speeches. Logos have been one of the fundamental techniques used throughout the literature. It not only helps in grasping the attention of the audience by pronouncing the statistics but also for adding weight to the arguments. She presented a new viewpoint on the prison system of America. Despite being behavior-mending places, these jails are just manifesting the illusion of solving social problems. Davis has highlighted the presentment as an industry being operative on both the government and the private level. The privatization of prisons in America also manifests the writer’s stance. For supporting her claim, the writer has compared the revenue generation of the two leading private prisoning companies, namely Correction Corporation of America (CCA) and the Wackenhut correction corporation (WCC).
“Currently, the stock of both CCAA and WCC are doing extremely well. Between 1996 and 1997, CCA revenue increased by 58 percent from $293 million to $462 million” (Davis).
Rhetorically analyzing Angela Davis’s writings, one can always find extensive use of pathos and ethos. Black people have been fighting against slavery and their rights for ages. Racism has always been a sensitive issue in America. Regarding the racism sentiments, Angela has used the concept of “color of imprisonment” to add emotional weight to her claim that the United States’ imprisonment was also racially biased. In her captivity, the writer observed the status quo as one of the significant reasons behind barring black people. However, one of the traits that made Angels’ writing far more impactful than the rest of Afro feminist writing was the supporting arguments and her claims. As she wrote:
“Almost two million people are currently locked up in the immense network of the US prison and jails; more than 70 percent of the imprisoned population are people of color” (Davis).
Thus, by establishing her stance and supporting it by claims, she knew how to touch her audience’s sentiments. Being a feminist and an activist for women’s rights, the writer has always portrayed the hardships faced by black women in slavery and imprisonment, thus successfully touching the black women’s emotions. Many examples can be traced out from her writings:
“… the political economy of the prison relies on the racial assumption of criminality … such as the images of the black mothers reproducing the criminal children” (Davis).
As in the above-quoted text, the writer’s eloquent emotion delivery provided her with an emotionally touched audience.
Rhetorically analyzing Angela Davis’s writing, one another exceptional trait is the establishment and continuation of “context.” As in the text, initially, the writer claims that jails are large corporations for disappearing people and capturing their dreams. She correlated her idea in the later section of the “color of imprisonment.” As she delivers her context by touching the sentiments of her race:
“Colored bodies constitute the main human raw material in this vast experiment to disappear the major social problem of our time” (Davis).
Moreover, the writer relied on stating the emotions and statistics alone. She presented her intellectualism in viewing the problems at the micro-level and came up with practical solutions. According to her, the people of color has long been facing the social disparity in America and are more prone to unemployment, mental and physical illness, homelessness, abuse and civil right disparity. Putting them in the jails, dwindling their lifestyle below the average cannot be of any good. Instead, this serves as a means for burgeoning the societal disparity and psychological trauma. The root cause behind the imprisonment is not the crime but the racism afflicted society, which expense the immigrants and people of color to live a tormented life. As she wrote:
“Once the aura of the magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, what is revealed is racism, class bias and the parasitic behavior of capitalist profit” (Davis).
She raised the consolidation spirit in the freemen too, as she elaborated the pitiful condition of the prisoner, she used to relate it with the brown and black working community, as she addressed them as they are no more different than the imprisoned brothers and sisters, as they were facing the ugliness of racism and poverty imprisonment.
Upon concluding, ideally, the criminal justice system should provide justice to the victims and punish the oppressor. If the job is done on fairgrounds, each guilty should be made convict and should also be rehabilitated to make them good citizens when they return to society as they happen to meet the imprisonment conditions. But deeply analyzing the prison system in America can find a more significant diversion from this ideality. One of the other contrasting comparison, the writer has presented in this regard is the striking differences between the investments on the prison system and in the education sector. Since 1984, in the state of California alone, 20 new prisons have been established in a few decades, while only a single new department was established at the California University. Thus, clearly signifying the priorities of the governance. The low wage labor providing potential of this punishment industry has made it a gold mine for private corporations. In one of her compelling articles “Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex”, Angela Davis used her individuality and intellectualism while addressing this issue. The employment of rhetoric skills: like logos, ethos, pathos and progression of the context are the key aspects of her writing. The established use of these writing techniques made her stance weighed by the facts and made her the voice of her society. The emotional portrayal of the black community in her writing and speeches made her the community leader.
Masked Racism : Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex. None: Race Forward, 1998. Project Gutenberg. Web.