SOLUTION: Purdue University Gambino on Gun Violence and Racism Essay

NguyenA_RWS200_S2021 1
Unit One Essay: Analysis of an Argument in Context
For this paper, you will select one of three music videos to analyze. These music videos were
selected for their focus on social issues: race relations, poverty, and gender standards, but you
may also select another music video. This first assignment requires you to examine the selected
video’s Rhetorical Situation, including at least three rhetorical strategies and two assumptions in
order to ascertain the effectiveness of the rhetor’s argument for his or her intended audience.
Video Options (posted on Canvas):
1.
2.
3.
4.
Childish Gambino – This Is America (Official Video) – YouTube
Band Aid II – Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Official Video) – YouTube
Taylor Swift – The Man (Official Video) – YouTube
Other videos (must be approved by the instructor in advance)
Essay Structure:
Your essay should begin with an introduction that establishes the topic’s importance in presentday American society. This paragraph should lay out the video’s main argument and rhetorical
situation in detail, and will conclude with a clear, defendable thesis statement. Your thesis should
answer the question: “Is the rhetor’s argument effective for his or her intended audience?”
Next, you should write a body paragraph about at least two assumptions that the rhetor holds
towards the target audience. Explain how those assumptions have affected the way the rhetor
presents his or her argument.
Your three (or more) subsequent body paragraphs should analyze specific strategies that the
speaker uses, and how these strategies advance appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos. Each
paragraph should include: a topic sentence that elaborates upon the rhetor’s use of one specific
strategy, a quote sandwich, and additional exploration about how that strategy promotes a
specific rhetorical appeal.
Your last body paragraph will evaluate the effectiveness of the rhetor’s argument for his her
intended audience.
Finally, you will write a conclusion. This paragraph should restate the thesis statement, briefly
summarize the rhetor’s strategies, and then wrap up with an examination of the implications that
follow from this speech. Name at least two reasons why this rhetor’s argument should matter to
people outside of the intended audience.
NguyenA_RWS200_S2021 2
Criteria for Evaluation: Satisfactory responses to this prompt will meet the following criteria:
1. Establish knowledge of the video’s rhetorical situation, main argument, and relevance;
2. Provide an essential understanding of the rhetor’s claims;
3. Identify key assumptions held by the rhetor and what those reveal about their target
audience;
4. Analyze rhetorical strategies the rhetor uses to further his or her ethos, pathos, and logos;
5. Be composed according to MLA guidelines for format and style, be four to seven pages
in length, include properly cited and integrated textual evidence, and include a Works
Cited section for any sources cited in the essay;
6. Meet an academic audience’s expectations for grammar, punctuation, spelling, tone, and
diction.
Unit One Essay due on Canvas by 10:00 AM on 3/1/2021
Birotte 1
Patrick Birotte
Professor Nguyen
RWS 200
1 March 2021
Lil Baby’s Impact on Change
In present-day American society a huge issue is the police’s mistreatment of people of
color. Police brutality against colored people has been a noticeable issue since the death of
Trayvon Martin in February, 2012. Trayvon was exiting a store with a drink and a snack while
wearing a black hoodie. An officer believed the items in his hand were a weapon, therefore the
officer fired his gun and took the life of the young man. Last spring another black man, George
Floyd was killed, which sparked the issue into the public again. In Minnesota an officer was
kneeling on the neck of Floyd causing difficulty for him to breath. After kneeling on his neck for
a while Floyd lost consciousness and unfortunately passed away that day. This incident had gone
viral all over news stations and social media causing others to feel furious and devastated that
incident was not handled in a different approach. Protests were happening all over the country
supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. About two weeks after the death of
George Floyd Rapper, Lil Baby, released a song in tribute to him and in response to systemic
racism. The song is called “The Bigger Picture”. The main intention of the song was to bring
more notice to the unfair treatment colored people face when dealing with law enforcement. Lil
Baby realized the large amount of youth that listened to his music and intended to inform them
of this problem using his lyrics in hopes of reforming positions of authority. Yes the music video
and song are both effective because a widely based audience has seen this music video, which
Birotte 2
has brought much more action towards the issue. The music video currently has an astonishing
one hundred and thirteen million views on youtube. Such publicity towards the song has given
Baby opportunities to talk to people with high power in authority. Lil Baby uses rhetorical
strategies to enhance his message such as calling to action, being assertive, and appealing to
principle.
In Lil Baby’s presentation he has two main assumptions he concluded from the audience.
The first assumption is assuming that the audience needs to care about police brutality and the
second assumption is assuming the audience will be willing to make change in systemic racism.
These two assumptions crafted the music video for the song. The music video starts off with
multiple audio clips from different news stations that spoke about the issue of inequality. After
these audio clips just before the song starts there is a chant that lasts for three seconds saying, “I
can’t breathe”. This chant is significant as it stems back to the original incident of police brutality
in July 2014 involving Eric Garner. Like George Floyd, Garner passed away due to police
brutality as the officers involved in his murder also limited his breathing ability. Baby
intentionally used the chant in the beginning of the video because he assumed if his audience
wanted to acknowledge police brutality this chant would immediately catch their attention and
keep them interested in the rest of the video. The video continues with many scenes showing
protestors wearing Black Lives Matters t-shirts and holding their fist up. Their fist being held up
resembles the main symbol of the Balck Lives Matter movement. Baby includes these scenes as
his music video is inspired by the most recent George Floyd incident, but he wants his viewers to
know it is not only about this one particular incident. This relates to Baby’s second assumption
of believing the audience is willing to make a change in systemic racism. Systematic racism
consists of rules and unfair policies that make it harder for people of color to succeed. For
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change to be in effect it would take many years and Baby knows that when he says, “It can’t
change overnight, but we gotta start somewhere might as well gon’ head and start here”. Baby
includes authentic clips of protestors in his music video showing that change is happening
currently. Baby is suggesting to start making change as soon as possible because he knows the
solution is still ways away.
Baby calls to action to make his message more powerful. He calls to action by promoting
action himself. In the music video the clips that show Baby protesting are not edited by the film
maker. Baby took time to join other protestors in a Black Lives Matter walk in his hometown of
Atlanta. By participating in this march Baby is encouraging his audience to follow his footsteps
and do more than make a social media post supporting the cause. He wants his supporters to
actually have an impact on history by taking action with him. Another example of Baby calling
to action is when he met with the mayor of Atlanta to discuss the start of change, “Lil Baby
revealed that he was assisting Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms in creating a police reform plan
and now the rapper’s activism is being praised by the city council” (Revolt). As seen in the
music video Baby and other protestors are shown holding up their fist in front of Atlanta’s city
hall. The mayor and city council were impressed that Baby had such strong knowledge in
planning the reform of the justice system. The council was so impressed they gave Baby a
shoutout on their social media platforms. This shoutout helps Baby spread his message as the
followers of the council are now aware of the impact Baby has on their community. Baby calling
to action relates to the rhetorical appeal of ethos. Calling to action relates to ethos because Baby
is showing his authority and power by taking action himself. Baby knew the amount of power he
held therefore the impact of him participating in a protest is much stronger than him simply only
Birotte 4
speaking about what needs to change. Him physically being involved shows that Baby truly does
care about the mistreatment of people with colored skin.
A second strategy Baby uses to strengthen his message is by being assertive. Baby is
assertive towards authority by calling out the current police system and demanding they fix their
protocols of training these officers. Baby shows his anger and confidence by directly calling out
the justice system. In the song there are multiple shots fired at law enforcement for example
Baby raps, “I find it crazy the police’ll shoot you and know that you dead, but still tell you to
freeze f*cked up, I seen what I seen I guess that mean hold him down if he say he can’t breathe
It’s too many mothers that’s grieving they killing us for no reason”. These lyrics have depth
within the issue of police brutality. Baby is shocked that the police will shoot a victim knowing
they are dead already. He is inferring the officers are not doing their job of protecting, but are
instead shooting out of anger. This lyric also relates to the previous murders of Philando Castile
and Chrsitoher Mitchell who were both shot dead by police. The last part of this quote is
intended to fuel the listeners with emotions of sorrow and frustration as mothers are watching
their own children die due to police brutality. Baby claims the police have no reason to kill us
and could have handled each incident that resulted in death completely different. Due to the
officers acting with a violence first mentality it creates the image that they simply do not care
about the lives of balck people. Baby calls out law enforcement again when he raps, “They
trainin’ officers to kill us, then shootin’ protestors with these rubber bullets they regular people, I
know that they feel it these scars too deep to heal us”. During the protest law enforcement
allowed officers to shoot protestors with rubber bullets. This makes Baby’s message more
powerful as the protestors are protesting against police brutality, but while protesting were
abused by the police. Although the officers are not shooting real bullets at the protesters it is
Birotte 5
enhancing them to think of regular humans as inferior to those involved in the police force. The
mindset law enforcement should have is that they are equal and unified with all humans. Baby
being assertive towards authority shows the rhetorical appeal of logos. His audience is those with
authoritative positions and he is trying to persuade them that they are treating people of color
wrongly by showing examples of mistreatment.
Baby also appeals to principle to expand his message in more depth to show the
mistreatment of black people is bigger than just police brutality. Baby believes ending police
brutality is only the start to ending the main problem of systematic racism. Baby shows the
significance of “The Bigger Picture” when he rhymes, “It’s bigger than black and white It’s a
problem with the whole way of life”. Baby is looking past the issue of racism and is inferring the
problem with the way of life is the government abusing their power to get what they want. In the
music video at one minute and twenty-six seconds a strong scene is shown. The scene involves a
young black child hugging an officer showing unity and that not all officers are here to harm
them. Due to the recent incidents involving the police the black youth sees cops as evil people
and forget that their job is to protect us not harm us. Baby raps, “We just some products of our
environment how the f*ck they gon’ blame us”. This line relates to the bigger problem of
systematic racism. In impoverished areas with the majority of the community being black there
are no opportunities for success. Many have to take part in illegal activities as that is the only
way they would be able to provide for their families. Even the school systems are not as pleasant
as other areas, which sets these students up for failure from the start. Baby mentions another
strong line about race when he says, “Every colored person ain’t dumb and all whites not racist I
be judging by the mind and heart, I ain’t really into faces”. Baby wants us as a whole to stop
judging others by what they look like on the outside. He wants us to instead critic others by their
Birotte 6
personality and mindset. Right now in the eyes of some white people they see balck people as
illiterate and in the views of some colored people they only know white people to be racist.
Therefore Baby is encouraging us to stop stereotyping as it only has a negative impact on the
world. Appealing to principle relates to the rhetorical appeal of pathos. When Baby says these
meaningful lyrics he is speaking emotionally and wants us to all be equal together. He wants the
audience to also react with emotion and understand what he said in depth.
Baby’s argument was effective for his intended audience. Baby had two main audiences,
the justice system and those who were not familiar with the killing of George Floyd. Currently
people are still supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and are looking for more they can
do to make change. Baby’s song is also still streaming on the radio and other streaming
platforms, which is informing more people about his message. Since the song has released
change is slowly happening. A couple of states such as Michigan and New Jersey had officers
join in on protesting against police brutality. These officers marched with the protestors and
understood a change needs to be made in law enforcement. Baby has also influenced other artists
to make songs regarding the problem of racism.
To get his message across Baby used rhetorical strategies such as calling to action, being
assertive, and appealing to principle. Baby was able to call to action by starting actions himself.
He was involved in multiple marches in Atlanta and was able to discuss the issue of racism with
the mayor. Baby was also not afraid to show assertiveness towards authority and call them out
for their unjust behavior. He was upset with the way police officers were handling situations that
ended in the passing of many black men. Baby also appealed to principle to show the deeper
explanation of racism. He believes that we are too divided and successful change will only occur
if we work together. Although the message has been presented strongly it is still not being
Birotte 7
understood. Change is being made, but people are picking one side or the other instead of
realizing the only way to make change is by working together. Baby’s argument should matter to
people outside of the intended audience because those who were killed by police could have
been anyone. It is important to make change quickly so no more lives will be lost. People outside
the intended audience should also care about Baby’s message because racism is a problem that
should no longer occur. The more people aware of racism that is still currently happening and are
willing to help make a difference will help the world unite together.
Birotte 8
Works Cited
Revolt, editor. Lil Baby’s Protesting Efforts Earn Praise from Atlanta City Councilman. 9 June
2020,
www.revolt.tv/2020/6/9/21285357/lil-baby-atlanta-protest-praise#:~:text=Last%20week%2C%2
0Lil%20Baby%20revealed,on%20Sunday%20(June%207). Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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