Pepperdine Journal of Communication Research


I aim to deconstruct the limits of rhetorical racial identifiers for people of the African diaspora, particularly within the context of the modern-day United States. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the terminology which enslaved Africans and their descendants have been subjected to in Anglo-Saxon media and the general American English lexicon. Additionally, its purpose is to discuss the efforts of Black people to standardize their own racial identifiers. I will define identifiers and discuss their purpose within racial systems. Within the framework of rhetorical hermeneutics, I will then explore the need for autonomy in selecting identifiers. Finally, I will examine the rhetorical relationship between identifiers and identity. My goal with this piece is that readers will understand the importance of a people group’s autonomy to establish their own racial identifiers. Considering the arguments of modern Black thinkers and assessing through the rhetorical framework set forth in the writings of Steven Mailloux, this paper will unpack nomenclature as a means of redemption.

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