Black Lives Matter Transcript

Megan Figueroa
Hi and welcome to the Vocal Fries podcast, the podcast about linguistic discrimination.

Carrie Gillon
I’m Carrie Gillon.

Megan Figueroa
And I’m Megan Figueroa. I’m laughing at you because you were counting down to our recording session but you counted up.

Carrie Gillon
Of course. I don’t count up.

Megan Figueroa
I know. And I was just like, how am I gonna say that we’re the Vocal Fries when I’m thinking about you counting up. Okay.

Carrie Gillon
You did really well until you said your own name. I just remembered. So before we get into anything. This week, Megan is going to be defending!

Megan Figueroa
Yes. Oh my god.

Carrie Gillon
And we’re all gonna have to call her Dr Megan from now on or Dr Fig as you’ll hear in this episode.

Megan Figueroa
Yes, Dr Fig, I really like that.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah me too.

Megan Figueroa
And, it could fit on a personalized license plate.

Carrie Gillon
Yes it could. If that is your wont.

Megan Figueroa
If that is my wont. Yes. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Now,

Carrie Gillon
Are you nervous

Megan Figueroa
I’m very nervous and I’m all over the place. Luckily, we recorded this, like, a couple weeks ago.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah,

Megan Figueroa
yeah, I mean, obviously, not what we’re saying right now, this is not a couple weeks ago but

Carrie Gillon
This is a couple of days before you get to download it.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, so, yeah, so I will be just a completely different person. The next time we record. Just kidding.

Carrie Gillon
That is very true. That is very true. I think you should not be nervous. Honestly, it’s the most fun that you can have. Because you are done.

Megan Figueroa
It’s Yes.

Carrie Gillon
And they can’t. They really can’t fail you.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, I mean,

Carrie Gillon
technically they can. But then you would have a lawsuit on your hands like they really can’t.

Megan Figueroa
They let me get this far.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, if they’re letting you defend, that means that they think it’s good enough.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. And I have really, like competent and also kind people on my committee. So

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, you have nothing to worry about, absolutely nothing to worry about. So I think as much as you can have fun. That’s what one of my committee members told me. When I was finishing. She’s like, just just have fun. And I did, because I knew.

Megan Figueroa
And I’ll try. I’ll try. I’ll report back on how much fun or not fun I have. Or if I remember it at all, if I completely blank it out.

Carrie Gillon
That’s also possible. Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Anyway, good luck, and everyone send their warm wishes your way.

Megan Figueroa
Yes, I totally appreciate that. You know if y’all know how much I am on Twitter.

Carrie Gillon
Yes, tweet.

Megan Figueroa
Yes.

Carrie Gillon
Tweet at us the vocal fries. Or at Megan.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Oh, and always do. I like how some there are some people that follow us that always at us when there’s when they come across something thats related to the pod.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, That’s great. Thank you so much, guys.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. And, um, a few people added us when it was that Time article about the words you shouldn’t say which we will talk about next episode. Right,

Carrie Gillon
right. Yes. Yes.

Megan Figueroa
So, so yeah. So some of the tweet, the tweets that we get are actually turning into episodes, which is cool.

Carrie Gillon
Yes. And people are giving us lots of suggestions. Like there’s people who know people who could talk to us about law, other people want to talk about disability and how language reflects that

Catalan

Catalan. Yeah, Yes. I can’t even remember all the things that we’ve been suggested to us. And I want everyone to know that your ideas are noted. And we do want to get to all of them.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. I think this goes back to like our very first episode, I was talking about how my partner was like, are you going to be able to have enought episodes like, Is there enough to talk about like, probably have like years of episodes on this.

Carrie Gillon
Forever, because there’s always going to be something either shitty in the media or just something that interesting that we want to talk about. So I This is not going away anytime soon. I mean, there are new people on the scene. Now there’s the Accentism project for example

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, reading those are so frustrating.

Carrie Gillon
I know. I know. They’re so heartbreaking. Because you’re like, this is not good. This is not a good reason to be discriminated. I mean, there’s no real well, there are good reasons to be discriminated against, I guess. But most of the reasons that we discriminate against each other are not good. But when it’s when it has to do with language, of course, that’s like, you know, really upsetting to me.

Megan Figueroa
Right? Exactly.

Carrie Gillon
stop being assholes.

Megan Figueroa
Except to Nazis.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, well, they should stop being assholes too.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Stop being Nazis. But you know, that’s a whole other conversation. We do have a little bit of housekeeping. So want to remind everyone that we have a Patreon. And I want to thank Ethan Kutlu for supporting us. Who is also going to be a future guest.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah

Carrie Gillon
Not sure exactly. When? Probably I’m going to guess in four weeks, but soon. Or soon for us.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
And we do have two bonus episodes up one on the word of the year at the Linguistics Society of America and an extra poem from Alberto Rios. And we’re going to have a third one up soon, so. And Just a reminder that you get the bonus episodes at the $5 level.

Megan Figueroa
Yes, so support indie podcasts, if you can.

Carrie Gillon
If you can, of course. Yeah. Only if you can. I don’t wan’t anyone to starve

Megan Figueroa
No, Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Like, you have to house, and clothe and feed yourself first.

Megan Figueroa
I know. There’s a lot of students that listen,

Carrie Gillon
Right? Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
Come on.

Carrie Gillon
Feel no guilt.

Megan Figueroa
Yes.

Carrie Gillon
I did also want to mention one other podcast that talks about language, the World in Words. Their most recent episode is about the word kayfabe. And I found it so fascinating.

Megan Figueroa
I Okay. What is it? You’re saying? You’re saying, fay-buh. K, fabe. K, like, k? dash, fabe.

Carrie Gillon
I mean, it’s one word. spelled as one word. So K-A-Y-F-A-B-E.

Megan Figueroa
Ok. Ok. So what the what the hell is and how you have a whole episode on it? Okay,

Carrie Gillon
Right. Right. How can you have a whole episode on one word. Well, I think you can on many words, but

Megan Figueroa
Well, yeah, but

Carrie Gillon
this one in particular is very interesting. So I don’t remember the first time I came across this word, I think maybe in the last year or so. And It’s a word from professional wrestling.

Kayfabe. So I’m just going to read the definition from Wikipedia, because I know I will mess it up otherwise. So “It’s the portrayal of staged events within the industry”, the professional wrestling industry “as real or true. Specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind.” So You know, if you’re if you’re the bad guy, You can’t be seen hanging out with the good guy. In real life.

Megan Figueroa
Oh, wow.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. So you’re supposed to maintain this illusion. All the time.

Megan Figueroa
This method acting?

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, yeah. I mean, they do let it drop if there’s nobody from the public in the room, but as soon as a member of the public let’s say a journalist walked into the into the backstage they would immediately have to put on kayfabe.

Megan Figueroa
Wow.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, it’s so fascinating. And I knew it existed. But the this whole episode is so fun, because they go into a lot of detail about some examples of kayfabe. So for example, one wrestler punched a journalist at one point to maintain kayfabe. yeah. Trump comes into it. It’s a fascinating episode, so I highly recommend it.

Megan Figueroa
He punch a journalist! Okay, That is dedication to the cause.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, yeah.

Megan Figueroa
Okay, so it’s kind of like what Stephen Colbert used to do.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. Oh, my God. Yes. Colbert did very good kayfabe. Yeah, he he did.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Funny. Okay.

Carrie Gillon
Every once in a while, he would sort of let it drop a little bit depending on the guest.

Megan Figueroa
Well, I mean, cuz Colbert the character was so ridiculous. It he you see him laughing himself sometimes.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, I just remember there was this one episode where he was interviewing a very old woman. And he just didn’t want to push her too hard. Because I could see him slipping there. But anyway, I don’t remember who that was.

Megan Figueroa
Was it the rep from DC because he loved her.

Carrie Gillon
Maybe. I really don’t remember.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
And so for this episode, we talked to my very good friend, Dr. Ersula Ore, And I just wanted to give a little bit of background cuz she talks about some things without giving enough detail maybe for people who don’t already know.

Megan Figueroa
And also, do you think this should serve as kind of a content warning? For –

Carrie Gillon
Oh, yeah, yes. So content warning: just so you know, she was attacked by a cop. So there’s some physical violence described. And we do talk about lynching and rape. So if that’s too upsetting to listen to, you might want to skip this episode. Yeah, so she was arrested for jaywalking, and I say jaywalking, with scare quotes, because as we talked about in the episode, the road was basically closed off, you could drive down it to park. you could, but it was basically like, don’t come – Don’t come down this road. Because most of that street was under construction, you couldn’t drive at all. So there’s just this one little tiny mini block where you could sort of drive. So she was she was jaywalking there but it wasn’t – Everybody was jaywalking, because it was closed off.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
No one thought of it as a thoroughfare. And so anyway, so she was

Megan Figueroa
arrested for walking while black.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, she was stopped for walking while black. And then yeah, you’ll hear how it escalated to her being arrested. And then we also wanted to talk about, she mentions being fired. And I just wanted to point out that she was fired from her summer position. She wasn’t fired from ASU completely. So that could be confusing. And also wanted to just mention that this episode is more about rhetoric than it is about language. There is some discussion of language. And we just want to highlight the fact that rhetoric can still tell us something about linguistic discrimination, as we discussed.

Megan Figueroa
Right. Yeah, so and I would just like to say that listening to the rough cut of this earlier this week, it’s really compelling, heartbreaking and good, like I just, I feel very lucky that she came and talked to us about this. And I think it’s very important. And if you all are able to get past the content warning, I think you’ll learn a lot. And I think it’s very good.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, she she opens up her emotions, like she’s very open. I think it’s an important discussion. So Yeah, I do hope that people can listen. Understanding that if you can’t, you can’t.

Megan Figueroa
Right. So shall we?

Carrie Gillon
Yes, let’s begin.

Megan Figueroa
Today our guest is Dr. Ersula J Ore. Ersula is the Lincoln Professor of Ethics in the School of Social Transformation and an assistant professor of African and African American Studies and Rhetoric at Arizona State University. Her work examines suasive strategies of aggrieved communities as they operate within a post-emancipation historical context. Thank you so much, Ershula for joining – omg Ersula. Thank you, Ersula. Thank you.

Ersula Ore
You’re Welcome, Shmegan.

Megan Figueroa
oh my gosh.

Ersula Ore
thanks so much for having me guys yeah thank you it’s good to be here. Happy New Year Happy birthdays. Happy Valentine’s Day, if I missed any other special days you’re alive. Yeah, happy for all of them as well.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, happy all the days. Yeah.

Ersula Ore
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, happy and big ups to Megan, because what’s about to happen.

Megan Figueroa
My dissertation defense yay!

Ersula Ore
Fantastic. Fantastic.

Megan Figueroa
If y’all, couldn’t tell we know Ersula. We know her. This is not the first time we’ve met.

Ersula Ore
No no no no.

Megan Figueroa
But we’re very excited to have her and we have so many things that we want to talk to you about. But we can’t talk to you about all of the things because you know so many things that we want to know about. But we had to pick a few.

Ersula Ore
Copy that, copy that.

Megan Figueroa
We should get into it. Actually, first of all, could you define rhetoric and what it means to be a rhetorician

Ersula Ore
love the question. So okay, there’s a multitude of definitions for rhetoric, right. But and we typically, you know, there’s a negative connotation and a positive connotation, most start with the negative, that rhetoric is bullshit, you know, it’s air. And it’s what politicians push to give you what you want – to get what they want, ultimately, so it’s the sleazy, kind of duping language that undermines the very aims that representatives claim that they are working to champion. And so that’s typically the definition that people associate with rhetoric.

Megan Figueroa
right?

Ersula Ore
But rhetoric, rhetoric is neither good or bad, you know, what I mean? It’s, it’s how we wield it. And so, rhetoric, ultimately, really is the ability to perceive in any given situation or context, the available means of persuasion. And so when we talk about persuasion, we don’t really mean to make people do what you want them to do. We mean, to inform, to translate, to teach, to translate ideas, communicate ideas, to inform, to work towards constituting a sense of collective identity. shared identity. It’s all about establishing connections and disruptions, to produce particular or desired outcomes. And so when we think about it that way, it’s not just linguistic, right. It’s also very performative, and it can also function materially. So, you know, for instance, the National Mall, right, but we could think about the National Mall, the National Mall functions rhetorically as an argument about America’s past. And as an argument about its anchoring principles, that landscape in and of itself reflects governing principles of the nation. And it constitutes a certain kind of not just symbol, not public memory, but national memory, that is the place where we go to recall who we are and what we are and what we mean to one another. And that place has rhetorical power hence the reason why folks takes seige to that place, on a regular basis when you know, they want to protest with some shit, same exact thing with the National Mall. And the National Mall in and of itself is is rhetorically powerful. If you think about the connections between the university and the nation state, then the university is a microcosm of the nation, The very rhetoric and arguments the ideology, the language the discourse, the practices that constitute the nation are the very ones that inform the university space. And I mean, we could think about this, you know, from a constitutional law perspective, constitutional theory, Legally, you know, the legalese of it, right, rhetorically, how bodies are constituted through language and discourse in practice. And then how those practices saturate spaces and then determine who does and does not – not simply determines but participates in determining who has access to that space, who belongs to that space, who doesn’t belong. The University functions just like the nation. And so you know, as a rhetorician we look at – as a rhetorician, we look at all those kind of things. So we look at how material objects make arguments in the world, make moves in the world, Translate information, right? Mount Rushmore has a very strong rhetorical argument that people are like, Fuck this shit. Let’s blow this bitch up.

Carrie Gillon
Right, right. Right, Let’s destroy sacred space by carving men’s faces into it.

Ersula Ore
And then we connect this to this larger notion of civil religion. I feel like I’m about to start preaching for real for real. And I’m kind of deviating from a more concrete definition of rhetoric. But rhetoric, ultimately, is the ability to perceive in any given moment, the available means of persuasion. Children know how to persuade, children are some of the most savvy rhetors there are. And so this is the ability to use language, action, material objects, to produce desired outcomes, just the real basic sense. Rhetorical is a term that describes how social actors use language or use material objects, to communicate ideas, and to constitute collective identity, for instance, to do things in the world. And then rhetorical analysis, you know, asks very specific questions, The common questions that you would hear from a journalist most people are familiar with the who, when, where, why, and how, the questions to what extent or what purposes because it’s always about the underlying motive or intent, whether that is conscious or unconscious.

Carrie Gillon
One of the things that I thought about as you were speaking about all of this very broad area is statutes and how they perform in the world. That’s really important, right now, especially with this movement to take down a bunch of really shitty statues.

Ersula Ore
And think about all the arguments that are used, like, like the statue is the embodiment of an argument about the past, right, and not just the past, but a particular way of remembering and celebrating a particular selective past. And so there literally is a competition over history, you know, via these, these rhetorical productions of memory, that inculcate values to individuals who go visit them and read the inscriptions and are retold the story and they share that story on with the rest of their generations and their generation, and their generations. And it’s crazy, because I was at UVA, working on what I was – what I thought was going to be the second book project, about rhetorical university landscapes, rhetorical spaces, that through the landscape architecture of the university space, a particular notion of a public identity is constituted. And through that identity, the notion of you know, an ideal citizen and citizenry is, you know, made. And so it becomes like this birthing place to reproduce, you know, the ideal citizen, and that was American education. But what was of interest to me was the other histories that were present at UVA that no one knew about, which is specifically about, you know, how does that how did that university come about? Who, who built the university, right, who helped the university run? And so the, the part of my part of the interest that I had was about the multiple discourses that constituted that space, the ones that were both reverberated loudly and the ones that were silent. And then how this how this rhetoric of the, you know, of the good citizen, as constituted through the architectural landscape of UBA. What is erased from that understanding of what is erased from that narrative that ultimately works to constitute that narrative?

Megan Figueroa
And that reminds me of what Michelle Obama said about the White House as well. That she was raising her black girls in a house that slaves built.

Ersula Ore
Yeah. And so and that was part of it. So part of the project included me going to UVA going to the National Mall. I never went to the White House, but you know, write a lot of work on the White House. And so, I came, I went to University of Maryland, College Park for undergrad, And when I ended up getting kicked off campus, because you know, they went to sweet 16 Final Four, and then championship and then, you know, admissions soared and rousing was no longer guaranteed. And so folks got kicked off. There, where I lived when I was living off campus, there was a plantation that had turned into like a historical site. And I used to walk past that on my way to school. And one day, I was just like, I just thought when I said, Look, you know, read the plate on the gate, and I was like, What is this by, right? I think it’s like Hyattvilles or some shit, or no Riverdale, Riverdale. And long story short, I ended up taking a tour, and I realized it was ultimately it was the plantation that was the University of Maryland. And So yeah, that’s where this that’s where the university I started, right as an agricultural school, through that plantation. And So, um, you know, connecting that history to the university that I was going to. And Long story short, noticing that we had McAlpin library, and then we had a pool, reflection pook. And then we had the main administrative building. And I remember thinking this looks just like the National Mall. It’s like the Capitol building. It looks like you know, the Lincoln, you know, Memorial and I just thought, what is what is it about this and then you know, and the mall, there’s like, all these other little buildings, which are all the classrooms and slash dormitories. And it’s, it’s crazy, because, you know, I’m originally from Virginia and Norfolk, my brother wanted to go to UVA, I had never gone to UVA, I’d never been to Monticello, I had never been to Charlottesville, because you know motherfuckers out of Norfolk don’t go to Charlottesville. And so the first time I went to Charlottesville was to go check out UVA because I said shit. And it wasn’t it wasn’t until I got ready to come to ASU for a job talk, that it hit me because I had come back to Penn State and I realized Penn State had a slightly similar architectural landscape as that of UVA’s, and that of the National Mall and I thought, who is building universities, and I said, presidents build universities. And I said no they don’t know it’s like, Fuck, Yes, they do. TJ built the first public institution. And I said he was also you know, an amateur architect. And I was like, Fuck, this motherfucker has had a hand in everything because TJ built the National Mall as well. Right? So thinking about TJ’s philosophy, thinking about his architectural style, thinking about the logic and the ideologies that have formed that shit. And really, it really got me thinking about just how impactful he has been on understanding of the nation and education, how Landscape Architecture reinforces those connections in very interesting ways. So when I got to UVA, I was looking at the memorials and my stomach was starting to get upset. And then I realized, Oh, shit, Part of my – part of the reason my stomach getting upset is because as I’m walking in these memorials, I’m also looking past memorials, and I see what I know to have been slave quarters, because students brought their slaves to campus. And that was when I was like, Oh, shit, you know, Agamben talks about, you know, the exclusive inclusion. And I was like, this is it and in material form manifested in constitutional law. You know what I’m saying? That was the beginning of what I thought was going to be the second book project, which is, is is a part of the civility while black and female which is, which will be the second book project.

Megan Figueroa
And that’s actually what we wanted to talk to you about today was, what it means to perform civility and what it means to perform civility while you’re black and female.

Ersula Ore
Yeah, I’ve been working through this Long story short, I guess, kind of all my life in the sense of, of respectability politics within African American culture, and the purpose and function of those politics and how they derived historically and how they were a adaptive method to the condition of being black and female and American, And what that meant, And the vulnerability and the the precarity of that positionality. I’m really thankful for what has transpired in my life that has given me the opportunity to now focus on this kind of work and these kind of questions and delve through these questions with, you know, with fellow students, because in the English department, this wouldn’t be the case. But um, the question of civility for me has to do with how is it that my humanity is consistently dismissed, and tropes of madness, tropes of insanity, tropes of hyper sexuality, are consistently placed upon me, despite, despite my efforts to use language wisely, To use language in an exacting matter in a moment of trauma, the kind of work that it takes to do that, And all the while being told that I’m out of place that I’m out of pocket, that I’m not a proper woman, that I am unsettled, that I’m unruly, that I’m inappropriate. And I’m referring to my assault on May 20 2014. And a couple of weeks later, I was hearing about the story of Sandra Bland. And then a couple of I gotta say, a week or two after that I was sitting by my father’s bedside, because he was dying. And literally telling him I’m sorry for not being a lady in the street, I’m sorry for not being the lady that you wanted me to be. I will work to do better, and crying about it, because that’s the last thing that I really wanted to say. But I did want to give him some peace. And because the whole the whole thing is about you gotta survive America’s ways. The ways America set up to kill you, and respectability politics, the primary, primary, primary way in which African Americans have worked to survive the way America is set up to kill them. And so here I am not performing those politics in a way that makes me look reckless in a way that makes me look like I have a death wish in a way that makes people in my own family call me crazy and mad, in a way that people say, Well, it was only a matter of time was you know, Ersula ain’t got no cover for her mouth. That, you know, I was always putting a target on my back because I chose to speak rather than to be silent, I chose to act rather than to be passive. I spoke my mind I spoke my piece, but it really had to do with my spirit. And Pat Williams calls it spirit murder. And there’s tons of other scholars who talk about it in other ways use other terms as well. But there’s something about Pat’s language, and I think also about how Pat opens up in The Alchemy of Race and Rights. With the issue of madness. Her family thinks that she’s mad her family thinks that she’s crazy, her family thinks that she’s paranoid, her family thinks that she’s schizophrenic. And it is because she sees too much. And it made me think about the trope of madness that I have read in African American literature, specifically, whereas black women of a certain kind of agency, that are rendered mad for the ways that you know, the context of those situations, rhetorical contexts, right, constrict theri abilities to express their full humanity. And we talk about the the ability to express our true authentic selves, right. And we usually use that kind of language to talk about sexuality, but it has to do with everything. And so, you know, we all have to make decisions and choices where we chip away at our own spirit just to, you know, be able to do what we need to do to make it through the day. And that has always been a difficult thing for me. And that night on May 20, there I was in the street, and it was like, I can’t can’t give you 1) the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve almost killed me, right? Because the university was killing me. The year prior, I had sold everything in my house, except for my cat and my mattress and had plans to move and I had gone to DC to finish this article on the National Mall and MLK, which is still not done. I was so batshit out of my fucking mind, because of what ASU had done to me, because of what this this space had had done to me, then I completely had ignored the fact that you know, it’s the 50th anniversary march on Washington and that, you know, shit’s gonna be going down to DC. And Long story short, I get the DC, shit is popping off, you know, folks is protesting, but it’s like this big as fucking family reunion and shit, you know, and I’m in black shorts – yellow shorts and a black and white shirt, striped shirt. And I’m walking down the street. walking down Seventh Avenue. And this is dude with like, these protective lenses. He’s like, Hey, Bumblebee. And I know he’s I know, he’s talking to me. And like, you know, I’ve got all this theory of my head and shit because you know, I’m writing as I’m walking like, I’m literally writing as I’m walking like, y’all fellow fellow nerds, you all know what the fuck I’m talking about. You’re always thinking you’re always processing, you’re always taking some shit in, right? And then you’re telling yourself if you’re lucky, bitch, calm down, just like try to clear out your brain for a second, just like breathe, you know. But this is what was happening. I was, you know, I was writing in my head as I was walking down the street. And so I’m literally getting hailed by this blind man who asked me to help him get to the feet of Lincoln. Now, the irony of this shit, right? This older black man who cannot fucking see, asking this blind bitch, we think can see, but who is emotionally psychologically and spiritually blind at this moment, cuz I’m done. To help him get to the feet of what for African Americans has been conceptualized as one of the, you know, one of the greatest unifying symbols of the struggle. Right. I mean, it is got power. And we know it’s got power, because it still resonates today. I mean, if that wasn’t the case, then Obama wouldn’t be pulling on the shit the way he did, you know, I’m saying like, you know, Obama, part of Obama’s candidacy was rendering himself Lincolnesque. You know, what I’m saying that he will be a savior of sorts, hence, you know, I’m running on this rhetoric again, by the way, I’m running on the idea of hope, right. And he works to articulate what hope means and what that might look like. But also, his body functions as a rhetorical text in the sense that it represents the possibility of another kind of America, America of both black and white in America, both, you know, imperialism, you know, an African colonialism. And So, here I am, in the midst of like, this kind of historical moment, right, we got a black president, but nothing has really changed when it comes to the way America is set up to kill motherfucking black people, you know what I’m saying?

Carrie Gillon
It might even have gotten worse

Ersula Ore
Yeah. And This is a reiteration of the same like, it makes me think about how diseases have these cycles, where they, we think we might have eradicated it, we might have suppressed it, maybe, you know, some kind of gene therapy or some shit with it. But just like every other living organism that finds a fucking way, you know what I’m saying? Because shit don’t actually really fucking die because it’s of us. You feel me, it’s fucking of us. And here I am writing about this and a manuscript, you know, getting snatched out by in the very moment in May 20 2014, where I find myself literally a year later on my father’s bedside, telling him apologizing for not being the lady in the street that I needed to be to make him feel comfortable about the fact that he knows that I know that he can’t do shit to keep me safe in America. So What does it mean for me to enact civility in the street? right for me, in that moment, it functioned as a form of dissent. And that’s my god given constitutional fucking right. But Why is it that some dissenting bodies are accepted and other dissenting bodies are put down? Why is it that bodies in the street that aren’t necessarily dissenting but simply using, you know, using the available means of persuasion, right, I’m using my words, I’m not fighting back, because I know I can’t fight back, I don’t walk away from the cop, because I know that’s not a fucking option. That’s just an excuse. Right? These are part of the rhetorical constraints, that limit what I can and cannot do what I can and cannot say my body also functions likewise, as that kind of constraint, right? That likewise invites people to oversee me in ways that suppress my humanity, the full expression of my authentic self. So when I when I was thinking through in jail what I was gonna say to my daddy.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Ersula Ore
What I was thinking, I was gonna say to my daddy, I was like, shit it’s not just what I gotta say to my daddy is what am I – What am I gonna say to America? And then the other thought was, I’m a part of a longer tradition. And I don’t know how to walk in this moment. And I don’t know how to think through this moment. And So who I could not go to who can model for me how to walk with the sense of integrity and self respect, so that I don’t become complicit in my own The murder of my own spirit? Which is what I had the feeling the entire time. Like, Carrie knows I used to tell Carrie Bitch, we in the seventh circle of hell. You know what I mean? And, and the university is a is a ugly space.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, it can be. Definitely.

Ersula Ore
And many of us go there. We go there for all kinds of reasons. We go there for refuge, we go there for it’s the only thing we know how to do we go there for the fact that it’s a it’s a haven for our, you know, social inequities. And, and,

Carrie Gillon
and learning like, there’s some learning that goes on

Ersula Ore
Yes, yes.

Carrie Gillon
I like always liked it.

Ersula Ore
And I mean, and then, you know, for everybody, every everybody who wants to learn and know and grow, go, you know, is there but in the same sense, there’s other reasons why it’s attractive to people. But I’ve always said about academe is, it’s the clearinghouse for this for the socially inept and the mentally ill. I still feel that very way today, you know, as a nuthouse, and I’m in a nuthouse, and then I realized, Oh, shit, it’s a reproduction at the same because as we think about the concentric circles, and yet again, when I use metaphor, the seventh circle of hell. I use that for a fucking reason. You know what I’m saying? And so that, that brings me back to this notion of space. That brings me back to the idea of stability and descent. And I’m still working through these ideas very much. The first piece where I was really trying to make sense of it was when I was orchestrating my own defense. If I know what constitutes the restrictions of how I will be perceived by the media, then I have to render myself legible to the media, I have to help them understand and interpret my behavior as behavior that was appropriate, Right? Not as behavior that was irate, a behavior of a legitimate individual, a behavior of a disrespectful person. Now I have to paint myself patriotic. How do I do that? You know, those were the rhetorical questions that I’ve found myself really trying to parse out. And I was so thankful that I had the ethnic studies working group that had come together in response to, you know, the ban of ethnic studies, you know, what was going down in Tucson, and the year prior is when I got connected with them, and I was working with them on that initiative. And so when my shit dropped, I mean, they just came guns blazing. And I’m just so immensely thankful. And from there on out, they just network, they reached out and you know, my network in DC and the DMV stayed linked up together and worked to orchestrate my defense. And so here I am, I get out of jail. Two days later, I go to a conference because you know, it’s the Rhetoric Society in America, gotta fucking go to the flagship conference. I already know I had three papers to deliver. And they were all about this second book project on race, power, academic space, because that’s what the book was called Race, Power, Academic Space. And one talk was on standing at the intersection, which was a book about intersection of rhetoric in feminism and coalition politics. And I literally had gotten snatched up two nights prior in the fucking intersection.

Carrie Gillon
Which by the way, for people who don’t know that street was under construction at the time, So the fact that you were snatched up for jaywalking quote unquote, was ridiculous because a) everyone was technically jaywalking, but there was basically no traffic

Ersula Ore
You can’t jaywalk in a pedestrian only thoroughfare we know what makes a fucking space up pedestrian only thoroughfare is when they’re fucking yay big road closed signs to fuck the motorists, right. And makeshift pathways for pedestrians to navigate the middle of the street. Hence the reason why the fucking road is closed.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, yeah, Everyone was everyone was crossing that street higgledy piggledy.

Ersula Ore
Even the people that were in the dashcam video walking. I was getting my ass beat. But I’m jaywalking. But they’re not jaywalking, and and, and, and the white woman that he blew past the fucking get at me wasn’t jaywalking, either, but the darkest body in the dark of night is so fucking overly seen. If that’s not the epitome of surveillance, I don’t know what the fuck is. If that’s not the fucking epitome of selective policing? I don’t know what the fuck is. Because how was it what I’m doing is different from anybody else. And it you know, the crazy thing about it is that like I literally had just, you know, finished the book about lynching and citizenship and submitted it to the press, the University of Mississippi Press, you know, thinking about lynching as a boundary making practice of constituting national identity, right, as exclusively racial, you know, construction race of the white, White racialist destruction, And about seeing this argument reverberating throughout history, and how we have used this this understanding of lynching to educate ourselves about about the nation and how democracy works. How does it provide a basically a critical democratic literacy? Right, So part of the question was how do black folks read the nation, Right? Well, the lynched black body is as a as a paramount symbol of how African Americans have come to understand the nation. And we see this And the way that writers have picked up, you know, historical lynchings and use them, right, as tropes. And the work to make certain arguments right, about coalition politics about racism, right about race and space about the Constitution, right, basically, you know, critical race theory and unpacking have race works in America, right? And how it works against all of us, and how it uses all of us and how we use it. And so I traced that from the instantiation of the nation to the contemporary moment, and it ended with, you know, Trayvon Martin, But I had when I wrote to the press, and I submitted the manuscript, I said, Hey, this is everything, but I feel like it’s not done like there’s something missing, I felt like isn’t the conclusion that something is missing. And here I am in jail, like shit, I just got finished writing this fucking book. And I knew I was upset about the fact that it focused on men because I know women were likewise assaulted. And I know the relationship between lynching and rape. But but my, my focus really was basically, I was so frustrated by the claim that reading situations like Amadou Diallo as a lynching was hyperbolic. And It reminded me of how you know, how this end of lynching discourse that kind of come about, you know, and really arose in the 1930s, When some anti-lynching organizations were like, hey, lynching has decreased, you know, in number. And so we’re getting better, right? This is a sign that, you know, times are getting better, and we’re progressing. Right? And that we’re bringing the country the nation closer in line with us governing principles, Right. And, you know, other folks who like NAACP, for instance, like naw fuck that noise No, that’s not the case. You know, you guys want to focus on and this is what, you know, Ashford Rushdies points out in his history of lynching and lynching discourse specifically is that, you know, you have these two camps and anti-lynching advocates, one arguing that lynching is dead, right, and the other one is, no it’s not dead. It’s just changed in form, right? So there’s an argument over motive and form, right? The motive is always the same, The form is just changed, Right? And so when it’s the same as exact thing, I was in jail, and I was thinking shit, you know, I completely left this out like I left women out of this manuscript, right. And here I am. literally getting snatched up in the very thing that I was writing about, and the very thing that I had, in some way, kind of imagine that didn’t affect me directly affected me indirectly, only in the sense that, you know, not to say that women weren’t lynched, but you know, there’s a disproportionate number of black men who were lynched In addition to Jews, Mexicans and African American women. So when I think about, you know, we’re going to quantify this, you know what I’m saying, it really was because it was an argument about citizenship, and an argument about citizenship between men and women, argument about citizenship between men and men. Right? Because women couldn’t own property. You know,

Carrie Gillon
and this also reminds me what happened in like, Yugoslavia, right. What happens to the boys and the men they get murdered? What happens to the women and the girls they get raped? So there is a gendered difference.

Ersula Ore
Yes. Yes. And, you know, all the while it was, I’m in jail thinking Shit. And I’m also thinking, how did that perform on site? I’m wondering if I gave them what I want. What he wanted? You know, I ended up literally assed out, you know, I had a thong on so I’m literally assed out like, one of the fucking lawyers made a comment about my fucking ass. He goes, Well, clearly, you know, Yoga has been doing you good.

Megan Figueroa
No,

Ersula Ore
Yeah. Yeah, Yes.

Carrie Gillon
Did you find a lawyer? Cuz Wow.

Ersula Ore
He got removed.

Carrie Gillon
Good.

Ersula Ore
But, you know, I’m literally assed out in the street.

Megan Figueroa
And It’s just like, it reinforces the idea that civility, quote, unquote, civility is not the same for every body. It has to be performed differently.

Ersula Ore
Right, right.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. You have to be more deferential.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, exactly.

Carrie Gillon
Depending on who you are.

Ersula Ore
Right. And, and then, you know, the killer was this is that literally, you know, a year later, because that was May 20 2014. I got assaulted. May 9, no, sorry, May 19 2015, settled with the university and all the other the other three entities. And then July, I was in DC. And Long story short, I got called away and I had to fly down to Jacksonville, and my dad was dying. He literally could not breathe. So here I am, like, you know, months. Going through a trial, you know, felony offense, felony charges misdemeanors, thinking about how to if I’m going to plea out, if we’re going to go to trial. What What would a trial look like here in Arizona for me, you know, Arpaio is still in office. Um, all of the charges were trumped up. We knew the fuckin you know, cops were lying. They kept telling us there was no dashcam video, I knew there was a fucking dashcam video. And then the dashcam video gets leaked. A month later. And we get a phone call from CNN saying Yo, Do you want to get in front of this because, you know, channel three, channel five, just send us this video. And it’s pretty damaging. And by this point. I’d already been fired by the university and have brought on a labor law attorney and shit. Because they have broke my labor con- and they broke my contract. And So yeah, it’s a it was a surreal moment. You know, here I am watching telling my father apologizing to him because I want him to go in peace and next thing you know doo doo doo doo, this just in, dashcam video release from Sandra Bland arrest. And here I am crying my eyes out is me. My dad and my best friend Kenitha all our hands are together on my dad’s chest because he’s strapped down in the bed. He’s intubated. Like he can’t move right. All he’s doing is like crying and like he can’t even hold me back. Right? And Mind you, this is a man that I’ve always argued with all my life. So the fact that we cannot talk is killing us both. And all you hear is Sandra talking to the talking to Encinia, and she’s using her words and the bitch is so tight. She is calling it she is reading it, right? And Encinia don’t like this shit. Right? So What do bullies do, what do bullies with fucking badges and the authority of the state to kill with impunity? What did they do? They do what they’ve been trained to do. They do what they’ve been encouraged to do. They do what the culture has sanctioned. And so that’s what he did

Carrie Gillon
that video wrecked me.

Ersula Ore
(Sighs) And I didn’t go back to the hospital for like three days. And my father thought that was gonna be the last day he saw me. And he didn’t want me to come back either. Like, the whole thing is that he did not want me to see him like that. He didn’t want any of us to see him like that. He said, they’re all going to get a piece of me. And I couldn’t help but the thing about the nation I was like, Fuck, yeah. Yeah, have they’ve gotten all you, you took all of you. They brought him from bought from Norfolk, Virginia to be, you know, the black liaison for black entrepreneurs in Baltimore. Because Coca-Cola wanted that product. They wanted that revenue. So they brought him in to tap that that community. And then, you know, they just laid him off. Like he was like two years shy of retirement just laid him the fuck off. Nothing. Economy is the shit. You know what I’m saying house is upside down. Shit is for shit. You know, houses have gotten foreclosure My dad is slowly dying. My mother’s about to retire. My uncle’s in Florida. And he’s got he’s like on a second kidney transplant. They’re trying to get my pops close to the Mayo Clinic like these are all all the things that are constituting my existence, and that inform the decisions that I make and how I negotiate my life. So like, here I am in the hospital with my pops watching him die the same exact that time when I’m thinking about how they all get a piece of us. And It makes me wonder like, what did they what are they going to get next for me? What else am I gonna have to sacrifice? And What would that sacrifice look like? And will that sacrifice be of my own choosing? Like? Aristotle talks about mutual benefication with regard to like, you know, how democracy can work. And Daniel Allen unpacks this shit for what democracy looks like, you know, in a racialized state. And who really gives up those who really sacrifices and what those sacrifices really look like. And This brings us to, you know, Obama’s A More Perfect Union when he talks about, you know, white resentment and black anger. Right, because folks thinks they folks feel as though they’ve given shit. And they haven’t. Right. And folks, things that, you know, they they’ve given things, and others have benefited, but like, you know, they just want more. And Here we are in a Trump era. That’s the supports all of that. And So what does it look like? What does civility look like, you know, I mean, I think it’s also very interesting question when we think about Trump. And we think about how how we have taken so long to fucking sanction his bullshit. I mean, not sanction to clap back at his bullshit.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, he’s the opposite of civility. And that’s totally fine for many people.

Ersula Ore
And I have to say, you know-

Megan Figueroa
I’m just gonna say it’s fine for him, but it’s not fine for you, or anyone, It looks like you.

Ersula Ore
Or you? Or you or you.

Carrie Gillon
None of us could get away with what he gets away with. I mean, it’s not just – he’s just very, very wealthy. And also just like this cult leader, basically.

Ersula Ore
So Anita Hill was on campus two weeks ago, right. And that was phenomenal. So it was phenomenal, a phenomenal lecture, and just two nights ago, I was at Bakari Sellers’ talk. And these two people gave me so much fucking hope.

Megan Figueroa
Oh good.

Ersula Ore
You know what I mean, about how to read Trump and it reminded me of the fact that Yeah, y’all motherfuckers, not Bakari because he’s a young motherfucker. But like, you know, you all done see this shit before. And y’all have survived shit like this before. And you know, going back to the assault, I was like, I need to read women who have gone through who have persevered through certain situations in their lives to find out how to all walk through mine. Right. So like, you know, Barbara Ransby’s Biography of Ella Baker became, you know, a major model for me, Right, You know, Tanisha Ford’s book on the Liberated Threads, you know what I’m saying, modeled a lot of things not modeled, but like, reaffirmed a lot of things for me about how I choose to walk, and why I choose to walk the way I walk. And those things have been really affirming. And on the other hand, like here, here, I see people communicating that Trump has been the catalyst, right, for a certain kind of change, that it has to get so bad and so ugly before we actually make a certain kind of response because we be complacent for you know, a certain period of time. And basically, Bakari talked about Trump being this silver lining of sorts, Right. And I thought to myself, we will survive this. He’s right, we will survive this

Carrie Gillon
most of us will, yeah.

Ersula Ore
Yes. And you know what, thank you so much for saying that, Carrie, because you’re right, most of us will, right. And there’s a large number of us that will not. And there’s a large number of us who will be who would generationally suffer as a result of those who are not able to survive this now. Right? So let me not forget them or exclude them. But we’ll find a way. And the idea that we will find a way Just the idea because it wasn’t a magnet sitter, because I just been in this place of despond to seize the opportunity destitution for so fucking long film.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah,

Ersula Ore
It just kind of like, you know, made a home there. And I think that’s part of the three year battle that I’ve gone through writ large, like, you know, I got here in 2011, and it was shit. 2012 was shit. 2013 was shit. 2014 was some bullshit. You Feel me. And you know, three, Three years later, here I am. And I’m doing a hell of a lot better than what I was. And it has a lot to do with everything that I’ve been through. And that asked me to go to that shit again. And nor would I wish that shit on anybody else but I am thankful for what I’ve been able to learn as a result of choosing life over something else.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. When I think about trauma, like cuz you and I both have been through some trauma

Ersula Ore
Carrie, Carrie.

Carrie Gillon
I agree with you, I would never wish it on anyone else. And I don’t, I wouldn’t want to go through it again. But if I hadn’t gone through it, I wouldn’t have learned certain things. So for me, I was in like a car accident, which in some ways was a lot less dramatic. And then the next year, My parents were attached by a person having a psychotic break. But anyway, so And those are like a year apart almost exactly to the day.

Ersula Ore
Yeah, yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Just so you have the background but um,

so when she’s not well, she’s not you know, sharing is that she almost fucking lost her life.

Ersula Ore
That’s true.

She almost lost her life and it and then there were

Carrie Gillon
Or it seemed like

Ersula Ore
no no bitch no bitch no bitch. No, bitch

Carrie Gillon
I was hit by a semi truck. So yeah, yes.

Ersula Ore
Right. Like she just said car accident. No, this wasn’t no little cute fender bender shit. Yeah. I mean, was a serious one.

Carrie Gillon
But I was fine. Like, I had some scratches on my arms. But like, physically, I was fine. And that’s why it just seems like, well, in the grand scheme of things, but it was very traumatic, traumatizing at the time.

Ersula Ore
No doubt, and then the following year. Your parents? And then that’s, that’s some sustaining shit. You know, and that’s the other thing too, the way trauma sits with you. And the way trauma is generally, generationally shared and inherited.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, and I also keep thinking about this whole Trump situation that it’s true that it’s he’s a catalyst for like the amazing change, but we’re suffering, right?

Ersula Ore
So much.

Carrie Gillon
Like, I don’t want to be like too Pollyannaish about it. But on the other hand, if I’m not Pollyannaish about it, I’m totally depressed.

Ersula Ore
Right. So How are you walking in this moment? How are you working to survive this moment? Right?

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, there’s a lot to unpack.

Ersula Ore
Yes. And So with the civility, you know, the question of civilit, it was it was here I was, you know, standing by my father’s bedside as he died crying my eyes out apologizing for doing what I knew was right. And watching Sandra Bland do exactly what I did to the T and to see what happened to her Thereafter. And it just solidified even more when my father was so upset with me. It just made me know, you know, and in the way she got read, you know, as a dissenting body in the street and it just made me think like, that’s the civility at work. There’s so many other options so many other choices she could have made about how she chose to engage him right? And how how do you maintain integrity and self-respect in those instances? Right everything she was doing was for those reasons everything I was doing was for those reasons. I knew I was going to be taken down she knew eventually she was going to get sniped the fuck up you know was coming when somebody is coming for you: you know. And so going back to this notion of being overseen right like I my my read of Sandy and and similarly my read of me is that I saw and this is what set him the fuck off. I saw him and I saw what he was doing and I called bullshit. And people don’t like that. Sandy saw him and saw what he was doing it and called bullshit So when Encinia said you know, is there a problem she goes I don’t really know why you’re pulling me over you ran up behind me Ran you know, sat on my tail, And then I slide over and then you you pulled me over saying that you know, I failed to signal while you ran up on me like I need to get out the way so I was just trying to get out of your way.

Carrie Gillon
That was a trap.

Ersula Ore
That’s exactly what it was. Just like your fucking tail light is out. Just like I smell alcohol on your breath. So she was stopped, I was stopped I was literally stopped in the middle of the street. As I cross the street. Sandy was on her way home from her first day of work. I was on my way home from my first day of work, we’re both going to schools both both working to educate and uplift. And then likewise you know be given back to in a similar fashion to be educated and likewise uplifted. So you gonna fucking work to make yourself legible to me. So what what do you mean? What do you mean? Do I know the difference in the street and the sidewalk? Do You always roll up on women like this in the middle the night? and speak to them so brutally and with such disrespect that you just did me? Don’t play with me today motherfucker. Don’t play with me today. Don’t play with me today, you know. And the other irony of this shit is that you know, I had like Beats by Dre in my, you know, buds in my ear. Listen to Kendrick Lamar and shit. And mad city it’s fucking mad city. And I’m thinking I’m writing and I’m walking. And you know, I don’t know if you know about this Megan, but I’m quite sure Carrie knows this, like I write in motion. I like to get on the bus and sit on the light rail and write or read. And I just, I think it’s probably because as a kid, you know, I grew up on 95 I was always a bit down 95 or 495 in the backseat of a car. And you know, you sit quietly with a book and You mind your business? Shut the fuck up. And you don’t ask Are we there yet? so many times, or you get your ass beat. So, you know, that’s how I grew up. And I think that’s why it wasn’t until grad school that I realized that that’s how I write. And I wrote my dissertation on audio driving everywhere else but fucking Penn State because you got to get the fuck out of Penn State. Because that bitch’ll kill you too. This will kill you, too. So Yeah, like I’m walking in. I’m writing, right. And when I’m on the light rail, got my headphones on and I’m writing. When I’m walking, I have my phone out and have my headphones on. I’m writing it’s always music in my ears. I’m always physically in motion moving. And I’m writing. And here I am thinking as I’m as I’m you know, because my mind is always racing, right? Because I can’t my brain from running and breathing and trying to be present in the moment, rather than trying to anticipate everything because I’m scared of everything. And like, here I am shouting out these people saying I know you see me I’m not invisible. I know you see me. And and this is what complicity looks like. This is what a rhetoric of silence enacted feels like, Right? Well, I know what it feels like to wake up from this, you know, those are the thoughts that were going through my fucking mind.

Carrie Gillon
It’s kind of like a near death experience.

Ersula Ore
And then you watch body after body after body after body. Dead in the street?

Megan Figueroa
And Do you think that’s, it’s an example of not performing civility the way that those officers want people to perform civility.

Ersula Ore
And so I would love to say that if it wasn’t execution style every fucking thing. You know, there’s a reason why the mantra is Hands up. Don’t shoot. These are individuals who aren’t resisting. And I wasn’t resisting. I was just trying to have a conversation. I’m asking questions. Motherfuckers getting upset because they can’t answer the questions. And so I asked myself that I give him what he wanted.

Carrie Gillon
Yes, and no, I mean, probably you just being deferential would have soothed his ego.

Ersula Ore
And it would have killed the shit out of me.

Carrie Gillon
Right. But then he also got the satisfaction of hurthing you. So.

Megan Figueroa
there’s something I was going to ask related to language. And I think it is related to like, rhetoric specifically. So What I noticed is that we non black people expect black folks to change the way that you speak, to make us comfortable. And that’s, you know, our country is the foundation of our country is white supremacy, and, you know, these, these terrible systems that are going to keep perpetuating this thing where we’re going to expect people that are, quote, unquote, different to change to be more like us.

Ersula Ore
Right. Right.

Carrie Gillon
And I would say especially, It’s very anti black and anti indigenous.

Ersula Ore
Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Yes.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. So and then I It reminds me also of this, quote, unquote, angry black woman.

Ersula Ore
Yeah, which is part of the conversation on civility.

Megan Figueroa
Exactly. So If you show the same emotions that I might show

Ersula Ore
Exactly,

Megan Figueroa
You’re going to be the angry black woman.

Ersula Ore
And this is what Ida B Wells, this was chief to her rhetorical performance right for her anti lynching campaign was to not to show emotion was to focus on ethos and logos and tried to do her damnedest to leave out pathos. specifically because she was a black female body in public space and in public spaces in ways historically that black women were not speaking bodies.

Carrie Gillon
Can you explain those three terms? Because I don’t think all of our listeners will them

Ersula Ore
ethos pathos logos?

Carrie Gillon
yes

Ersula Ore
Ethos pathos logos are basically the foundation of rhetoric right and when we say when I say rhetoric in this case, I mean, how we use language to produce desired outcomes right. So, ethos denotes the audience’s ability to discern that you are a good faith human being right it is the projection is the rhetor or the speaker or the performance projection of goodwill, right? good intent. It has to do with the authority to speak right? What renders you authoritative or an expert to speak about this particular issue to me, Right? Why should I listen to you? Right. Um, this ethos has to do with character, right? And virtue. Pathos is the appeal to emotions, right? So sorry, ethos is the appeal to character good character. Pathos is the appeal to emotions, right, and logos is the appeal to logic.

Carrie Gillon
Thank you.

Ersula Ore
Sorry, and those are those what we call the rhetorical appeals. And they constitute all communicative you know, transactions.

Megan Figueroa
And she said that she left out pathos specifically

Ersula Ore
specifically because you know, first women are women are already crazy, right? Um, and so they’re already hysterical. So You can’t believe them when they get quote, unquote, emotional. So that’s the foundation of that argument. Right? And then not the foundation, but because it’s very much an intersectional positionality that she’s articulating, She she can’t be emotional cuz she’s a woman. She also can’t be emotional because she’s, she’s black. And so it’s more important for her to come off as, and a lot of people have challenged her femininity, right? and ways of saying saying that she was either a whore or that she was masculine, right, because she didn’t show emotion like a woman did. But yeah, her arguments about anti her anti lynching advocacy campaign was grounded on ethos was founded on a character structure of ethos. As a logical, rational speaking, black female body, right? That was the foundation of Ida B Wells’ discourse. When we look at other women, like, I mean, Maxine Waters would be an example. Right? She I mean, like, what some people do read her as the angry black bitch, right? But within the community, right, she’s Auntie Maxine for a fucking reason. Auntie Maxine, stay clapping back. She stayed true to tradition. Right? Um, she is the epitome of black girl magic on stage. She’s the epitome of civility while black and female in public. Right. She speaks without equivocation. Right? She has no problem with schooling a motherfucker. You know what I mean, right? So like, I mean, there’s, there’s, there’s no, those are two very different examples, you know, one from the early 19th century, one, You know, 21st century iteration.

Carrie Gillon
But there’s a thread.

Ersula Ore
Yes, yes. Yes. And part of part of that work of trying to understand this trope of the angry black bitch, the angry black woman is really me trying to understand not simply the ways that black female bodies in public space have been have been delegitimized right, but more importantly, about what kind of civic performance does that index for me? I’m looking at these women as models as models of a certain kind of civic literacy. Right, democratic literacy. I mean, Fannie Lou Hamer is is this, you know, Ella, Ella Baker is this. I mean, Septima Clark is this, you know, I mean, there’s, there’s tons of iterations. But I’m interested in the 21st century manifestation with regard to policing, Part of my part of my understanding is that and this, this is the connection between the first my first book and the second book, first book is about lynching. It really traces lynching to instantiation of the nation to the contemporary moment. And it traces the way that it has changed, right? and identifying anti black policing as a manifestation of America’s lynching tradition, it follows the same rhetoric, right. And it produces the same material object, which is – it legitimates the production of the same material object, which is the eradication of black life, right? And so like if we understand that the ultimate citizen was and keep in mind the discourse that legitimated lynching was a discourse of citizenship. And this is what the book has to deal with, about how lynchers constructed themselves as the best leading citizens, right? This, this was a performance of civic virtue, right? And a constitutive practice of what it meant to be a member of this polity. Right? And in performing and lynching, you are literally enacting an argument that states that African Americans are not members of the polity, right, because you are literally denying them due process of law. So when you recind an individual’s you know, due process of law, you are saying that they are not a citizen, they are not a member of the polity, they are not governed by the same rights and privileges that protect you.

Megan Figueroa
And do we do we also do this with a type of coded language like law and order? Again, the war on drugs?

Ersula Ore
Yes, yes. Yes. So Michelle is very much sorry, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. And and this is what this is. Michelle, I’m only citing Michelle, because Michelle succinctly does this for a popular audience. This scholarship, this work, this research has been ongoing for years, right? Michelle’s books succinctly just sums it all up for popular audience so they can understand what the issue is. And that’s why it’s so important, so significant. And hence the reason why I’m using her as a footnote here, But Yeah. And so like, the argument that I have for, you know, the first main script is about the eradication of black life like that is a constitutive practice of American civic identity.

Megan Figueroa
Right. And that’s why the system of education K through 12, and our higher ed is so hostile toward black folks. We don’t want them there. Right? We don’t want them to,

Carrie Gillon
I mean, they’re still teaching that slavery is not the cause of the Civil War.

Ersula Ore
Yeah. Yeah. And think about, and think about all the other things that get taught as well you know what I’m saying, if that myth is getting taught, think about the history of the Constitution of the nation in and of itself, or think about think about the conversation of how who else is left out. You know what I’m saying there’s no conversation about Native Americans at all. There’s no conversation about, you know, white immigrants from Europe at all really, really about how they work to constitute the construction of white civic identity that participates in the exclusion of others from civic rights, and, you know, and privileges?

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, like Ben Franklin hated Germans. If you go, Do you think about it? Yeah, it was a very narrow set of people who were acceptable. And Yes, they were all white men, but they were like, white in a different sense than what we mean now.

Ersula Ore
So like, part of the argument has to do with founders into like, you know, what was the intent of founders when they were constructing the nation? How do they imagine what the polity would be like? And what were some of the governing principles they imagined? You know, that good men speaking well, right, because that’s what the definition of the citizen was, right? Cicero. You know, what that look like? Right? Well, we need we need an educational system to prepare our young men to be, you know, the leaders that we want them to be because we need some way to take our place. Hence, you know, an educational system. But well, a lot of people don’t understand is like the yet, again, the link between, you know, education, and the nation has to do with, you know, the eradication of black lives. So, you know, both private and public, you know, university institutions are constituted through the exploitation of Black Lives via slavery, right. So like many of these, many of these universities were, you know, funded by, you know, the transatlantic slave trade. Right.

Carrie Gillon
A lot of stuff was funded that way at the time. I mean, Nothing would get done.

Ersula Ore
But this is the Exactly, exactly because this is this is this is part of the exclusive inclusion in the sense of, it’s not identified as being a constitutive portion of how things come to fruition, Right. It’s the part of the narrative that gets left out. Of course there’s tons of other parts, the narrative that also gets get left out as well. But when we talk about taking this to linguistics, for instance, right, and thinking about African American, you know, vernacular, AAVE thinking about black English thinking about Ebonics, right? What is the place if the very body right, that constructed this house of education and learning, right, is the very body that was excluded from it? That is now in the 1950s 1960s 1970s? Right? permitted to enter? Right? I’m thinking about you know, what happened with the change of public education and following the you know, the GI Bill and what have you and,

Carrie Gillon
and Brown

Ersula Ore
Brown and open enrollment and how you have this influx of working class POC, right, Um, but white as well, right and immigrant communities coming to higher education, and how the way in which they speak, right? is considered a deficit. It’s considered a handicap. It’s considered a marker of their intellectual ineptitude, right? You speak with an accent therefore you think with an accent, you know what I mean?

Carrie Gillon
Whatever that means

Ersula Ore
Son

Carrie Gillon
We all have an accent

Ersula Ore
And and and it literally is like this, this notion of you know, intellectual handicap because the way we say you’re supposed to speak when you come into this space, Right? You’re not speaking like that and you’re not writing like that. So there’s something wrong with how your mindworks.

Megan Figueroa
And yet when when a person of color does come into that space and speaks the way that our educational system wants them to speak their quote unquote, articulate.

Ersula Ore
Right Hence Obama Right? It’s this is this is so crazy, because and I love this book, Articulate While Black right, is by linguists, H. Samy Alim and the mother of black linguistics. You know what I’m saying? Dr. Geneva, aka lovingly called Dr. G. Smitherman. She she’s my, you know, my academic mother. And yea Articulate While Black is dope is shit. And it’s all about Obama and black language in the White House, you know, like literally put on national stage in ways that otherwise hasn’t been. And how Obama has been treated and understood and interpreted as a result of his ability to use multiple registers linguistic registers. And yeah this brings me back to you know, the thought about the students rights in their own language a familiar with that one, Megan?

Megan Figueroa
No. I’m not. Is it a book?

Ersula Ore
No, no. It’s a position. Okay, it’s a position that was issued by the National Council of Teachers of English and the conference on College Composition and Communication, right. So NCTE and CCCC so we constitute the individuals who teach you how to read and write basically, right/ And and for the four C’s specifically, which is the college division all tiers you know, two year institutions and to you know, four year institutions and graduate granting institutions as well. Freshman composition, or junior composition. And they issue together a position on students’ rights to their own language, because it was an address a clap back to the eradication of you know, linguistic diversity in the in academe, Right? You don’t look like us, and you don’t talk like us. And so you know, first you don’t talk like us, You don’t look like us that’s a problem. Secondly, you don’t talk like us. And that’s a problem. So we’re going to find a way to make sure we help you talk like us and write like us. Right. Here’s the conversation about Standard English Standard, right? written English, academic, you know, English and academic standards. And Who are we really training to these individuals to write to for and to what extent what purposes, you know, the rhetorical context of our writing situations, for instance, the rhetorical concepts of our speaking engagements as well. These are all issues that were brought up by linguists and teachers of writing during the 50s 60s and 70s, as the university was changing as a result of, you know, major progressive legislation. And what you know, Omi and Wimant talk about as you know, a racial break.

Megan Figueroa
Actually, um, so, Dr. Anne Charity Hadley is a linguist, up at UC Santa Barbara, and she tweeted recently that she’s allowing her students to write in whatever dialect they have papers.

Ersula Ore
And that’s that’s part of the position for, you know, students’ rights to their own language.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. So Yeah, I want to see more of that. I love it.

Ersula Ore
I will put out one book just as a suggestive. I think it comes out later on this spring, if not, this summer, it’s on, it’s called On African American Rhetoric it’s by Keith Gilyard and Adam Banks. It’s a book that is basically as an introduction to African American rhetorical tradition from, from, you know, the early, you know, 18th century to the contemporary moment, and it includes, you know, digital literacy. So for those who want to have a better understanding of what a black digital platform network looks like, and how it operates rhetorically, Yeah. And how that is both similar and distinct from other kind of public communities of publics. Yeah, that’ll be a piece, but that there’s also a chapter that’s dedicated specifically to the teaching of English, right? And students to the students’ rights to their own language.

Megan Figueroa
That’s great. And do they talk about Black Twitter, then?

Ersula Ore
Yes, there’s a whole chapter. There’s a whole chapter on black Twitter. And Adam Banks is a scholar of rhetoric and composition of communication, who focuses on digital technology specifically within you know, diasporic communities.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, that’s great. I’m so happy that there are professors like you in academia.

Ersula Ore
Thank you, Megan. I’m looking forward to walking right up right alongside you. In a couple of months. Yeah boo. You’re about to get it, girl! It’s Figueroa, right? Figueroa?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah,

Ersula Ore
Doctor Figueroa, Doctor, Fig.

Carrie Gillon
Doctor Fig is good.

Megan Figueroa
Definitely Dr. Fig

Ersula Ore
I love it. That’s dope as shit. Do you got any ink?

Megan Figueroa
Do I got ink?

Ersula Ore
No, are you gonna get any?

Megan Figueroa
I should. Do you have any?

Ersula Ore
Oh, yeah, I got a shit ton of ink. But I don’t have any ink for like, you know, I got a PhD type shit or like, I just crossed this bridge that almost killed me type shit. I mean, well, you know, the PhD was another kind of bridge that almost but not really. But I Yeah, I didn’t get any ink for that. I got some ink for the assault shit.

Megan Figueroa
It’s a good idea.

Ersula Ore
Just a thought!

Carrie Gillon
My sister got a tattoo for her PhD,

Ersula Ore
she did?

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Ersula Ore
Thank you so much for having me, ladies.

Carrie Gillon
Thank you.

Megan Figueroa
Well, thank you so much, for talking with us.

Ersula Ore
I appreciate the fuck outta you. Take care, it’s always good.

Megan Figueroa
Yes. Alright, so

Carrie Gillon
Thanks. And don’t be an asshole

Megan Figueroa
Don’t be an asshole.

Ersula Ore
Yes.

Megan Figueroa
Be anti-racist,

Ersula Ore

See you guys. Thank you.

Megan Figueroa

All right. Bye

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