The Intersections of Race and Gender in Rhetorical Theory and Praxis

Jacqueline Bacon. The Handbook of Gender and Communication. Editor: Bonnie J Dow & Julia T Wood. Sage Publications. 2006.

Many issues confront rhetoricians studying intersections of gender and race in discourse. What counts as rhetoric? How does it affect power and agency? What methods and perspectives best elucidate the impact of race and gender on discursive practices? When do rhetors adopt or reject traditional rhetorical strategies, and how are they oppressed and/or empowered, silenced and/or privileged by race and gender?

Critics have proposed new texts and critical methods to account more fully for the discursive influences of race and gender. Tensions between dominant and alternative paradigms, the use of conventional strategies for radical ends, and the ways gender and race constrain and empower rhetors have generated innovative studies of discursive practices. In this chapter, I consider theoretical/conceptual questions underlying this scholarship, examine scholars’ critical methods, and suggest directions for research. Throughout, I highlight the ways that intersections of race and gender illuminate, challenge, and expand theoretical and critical approaches to discourse.

Theoretical Issues and Challenges

The Nature of Rhetoric

Feminists Gearheart (1979) and Foss, Griffin, and Foss (1997), and African American scholars Asante (1987) and Karenga (2003) argue that rhetoric in the Western tradition is patriarchal and inimical to those who are not white men. They argue that it justifies antagonism, coercion, domination, even potential violence. Karenga (2003) argues for an Afrocentric conception of rhetoric as “communal deliberation, discourse, and action, oriented toward that which is good for the community and the world” (p. 3; see also Alkebulan, 2003). McPhail (2003) notes that “it is not rhetoric per se that is foreign to the African ethos, but the conceptual framework that limits rhetoric to a representational view of language” in contrast to a perspective in which “the word” has “creative and constitutive power” and is connected to “morality, spirituality, and social responsibility” (p. 103). Foss, Foss, and Griffin (1999) offer theory and practice concerned with the ways that “individuals create worlds, perspectives, and identities” (p. 7). These alternative formulations also occasion criticism. Dow (1995) and Condit (1997) suggest that definitions that claim that rhetoric is inherently patriarchal rely on essentialist notions of differences between men and women or of innate traits within certain groups.

Whatever their views of persuasion, most scholars argue for a broad definition of what constitutes rhetorical action. Scholars of African American rhetoric such as Nero (1995) and Jackson and Richardson (2003) advocate the inclusion of rhetorical acts other than those by orators addressing audiences. Davis (2002) redefines African American women’s rhetoric to encompass a “discourse of experience” that “celebrates the construction of knowledge and meaning of African American women and situates rhetoric as a site of struggle for inclusion and survival” (p. 38). Others include discourses that have been considered private, such as poetry, epistles, or conversation (Donawerth, 2002; Flores, 1996; Garrett, 2002).

Feminism, Womanism, and Masculinity

Beginning with groundbreaking work in the 1970s (e.g., Campbell, 1973; Hancock, 1972; Linkugel, 1974), feminism has had a significant impact on rhetorical studies. Scholars claimed that women’s discourse merited attention and needed to be assessed on its own terms rather than with criteria suited to the rhetoric of white men. Other scholars and activists, particularly women of color, critiqued the exclusionary and often racist aspects of feminism and challenged feminist critics to look beyond the practices of white women. Foss et al. (1997) “acknowledge that when [they] … began to employ feminist perspectives,” their use of such terms as “women’s perspective, women’s communication, and women’s voices … did not reflect the differences that exist among women” (p. 120; see also Darlington & Mulvaney, 2002; Dow, 1995, p. 109). Crenshaw (1997b) notes that “feminist rhetorical critics are increasingly sensitive to interdisciplinary feminist scholarship that values pluralized differences among women and seeks to understand how these differences are ideologically valued or devalued in the texts we examine” (p. 220).

Some African American female scholars developed alternatives based on womanism or black feminism. Although these differ, Collins (1996) explains that both recognize that “black women’s particular location provides a distinctive angle of vision on oppression,” attend to the “over-arching issue of analyzing the centrality of gender in shaping a range of relationships within African-American communities,” and explore “the diverse ways that black women have been affected by interlocking systems of oppression” (pp. 15-16). In other words, “certain core themes shape African American women’s rhetoric and rhetorical behavior,” particularly “a legacy of struggle” against various forms of oppression, “the search for voice,” “the interdependence of thought and action,” and “empowerment in the context of everyday life” (Hamlet, 2000, p. 422; see also Davis, 1999).

Some scholars consider manhood as well as womanhood as “a historical, ideological process” through which individuals position themselves within cultural ideas about “who men are, how they ought to behave, and what sorts of powers and authorities they may claim” (Bederman, 1995, p. 7). Rhetorical critics have begun to examine the ways that gender affects the practices of male rhetors. “Masculinity is a rule-governed practice,” that is “performed and maintained—culturally and individually— through and in terms of preset rhetorical arguments” (Catano, 2001, p. 2). Foss et al. (1997) note that masculinity is not synonymous with patriarchy—“a system of power relations that privileges and accords power to the white, heterosexual male”—and that patriarchy can and does harm men (pp. 121-122; see also Hantzis, 1998, p. 224). Although certain expressions of masculinity often are presented as normative (Catano, 2001, p. 2), masculinity is not a fixed category, but is constructed by discourse and manifested in multiple ways (see Condit, 1997, p. 103; Spitzack, 1998, pp. 141-142).

Because constructions of manhood often assume and bolster white supremacy, racial constructions of masculinity can exclude and oppress men of color (Bederman, 1995; Booker, 2000; Hine & Jenkins, 1999; Horton & Horton, 1993a; Wilder, 2001). Just as feminist and womanist theorists have stressed that womanhood must be seen as part of the larger context of gender and community relationships, scholars emphasize the political and communal implications of masculinity for men of color. Because resistance to white oppression often is seen as essential to self-determination, traditionally masculine ideals, such as authority in the family and community and physical strength, frequently are linked to resistance, freedom, equality, and racial power (Booker, 2000; Graham, 2001; Hammerback, Jensen, & Gutierrez, 1985, pp. 74-75, 93-94; Hine & Jenkins, 1999; Horton & Horton, 1993b; Wilder, 2001).

Links between masculinity and racial power can be problematic for women of color, suggesting that they should privilege race over gender (Guy-Sheftall, 1992; hooks, 1981; White, 1999). Carby’s (1987) work on African American women novelists, however, suggests that doing so must be viewed in terms of strategic, historically specific concerns (pp. 67-68). Other scholars note that the equation of manhood and racial uplift need not imply patriarchy and that masculinity can be understood in ways that empower men and women (Allen, 1995; Estes, 2000). Hammerback and Jensen (1998) argue that César Chávez linked manliness to nonviolence (pp. 116-117).

Intersectionality, Identity, and Difference

Scholars agree that the notion of intersections is key to understanding the ways that race and gender influence rhetorical identity and praxis. Those who study women of color stress that it is not enough just to add them to analyses of the discourse of white women or men of color (Houston & Davis, 2002, p. 3; Turner, 1998, p. 331). Nor can the relative or disparate influence of race and gender be identified (Powell, 1995; Trinh, 1989, p. 106). Instead, racism and sexism—and other forms of oppression— interact, creating a complex subject position. The notion of intersectionality, articulated by African American feminist scholars Collins (1990) and Crenshaw (1991), posits that African American women’s perspectives are shaped by “intersecting systems of race, class, gender, sexual, and national oppression” that should be viewed with a “both/and conceptual orientation” (Collins, 1990, pp. 11-12, 29).

Similar claims apply to women of other ethnic groups. Flores (1996) and Mao (2004) rely on Anzaldúa’s (1987) concept of “borderlands” to theorize the ways that women of color (Chicanas and Asian Americans) negotiate aspects of their identity. Women who occupy a literal and/or figurative border, Anzaldúa maintains, “live in the interface” between two cultures (p. 37). In their rhetoric, she proposes, “the dominant culture’s traditional, conventional narratives” coexist in a “struggle” with “other counter narratives” (cited in Lunsford, 1999, p. 48). However the interactions of race and gender are characterized, employing “an intersectional method” means more “than just ‘covering all the categories’”; critics must “trace them to their intersections” and understand how “oppressive ideologies intersect in mutually reinforcing ways” (Crenshaw, 1997b, p. 230).

The identities and rhetorics of white women and men also are shaped by intersections. As scholars have begun to study whiteness, which, like masculinity, has been unexamined or undertheorized, they have probed its influence on the rhetoric of white women and men (Cramer, 2003; Crenshaw, 1997a; Jackson, 1999). Understanding the influences of gender and race includes understanding the ways that both advantage and oppress (Bacon, 2002; Powell, 1995; Rowe, 2000; Zaeske, 2003). Individuals can adopt “contradictory subject positions” that permit “the interplay of privilege and alterity” as “part of both a dominant culture and a marginalized one” (Friedman, 1995, p. 15; see also Rowe, 2000).

Essentializing the experiences, perspectives, or rhetorical strategies of groups such as African American women and relying on binaries such as white women/nonwhite women are tempting but dangerous critical traps (Allen, 2002, p. 23; Buzzanell, 2000; Friedman, 1995, p. 5; McPhail, 1991). As Dow (1995) asserts, critics naturally wish to “create an identity for whom we study and what we do,” and “difference theories” are useful in “explaining the experiences of some women” (pp. 108-109). Dow and others advocate self-reflexivity about groupings and divisions. Crenshaw (1991) claims that it is “more fruitful” to understand identity as created “at the site where categories intersect” than to challenge “the possibility of talking about categories at all” (p. 1299).

Rhetorical critics also interrogate the conventional frameworks used to discuss diversity. Difference is not a problem to be overcome, a struggle with winners or losers, or an obstacle to unity within and between groups. McPhail (1991) advocates models “in which differences might be complementary, and not merely antagonistic” (p. 8). Olson (1997) identifies the rhetoric of Audre Lorde as a model of a discursive practice that “acknowledges] and bridg[es] differences” (p. 63). “Although difference often translates into division in U.S. culture,” Olson (1998) asserts, “Lorde’s rhetorical technique endeavors to build identifications among diverse subordinated communities by focusing upon commonalities in oppressive, relational practices across differences” (p. 454).

Agency and Embodiment

Agency, which Campbell (2005) defines as “a sense that language matter[s], that influence through symbolic action in speech and/or writing [is] possible and occur[s]” (p. 2), has particular connotations for speakers marginalized by race, gender, or both. Royster’s (2000) description of agency as created in African American women’s writing can be a model for others: “The act of claiming creative and intellectual authority over information and experience and thereby, with a sense of vision and agency, using literacy both well and with persuasive attempt” allows African American women “to empower themselves” and “to operate with vision, insight, passion, and compassion in making sense of their lives and seeking to improve their conditions” (p. 61). Leff and Utney (2004) explain that black rhetors’ “efforts to overcome a system that repressed and demeaned them require rhetorical instruments sufficient not only to serve immediate political ends but also to constitute a new conception of themselves and their fellow African Americans” (p. 38).

Agency, as Campbell (2005) explains, is complex, multifaceted, and often ambiguous. Her view of agency as “communal and participatory, hence, both constituted and constrained by externals that are material and symbolic” (p. 2) speaks to the ways that race and gender are manifested in discourse. Rhetors must “accept, negotiate, and resist the subject-positions available to them at given moments in a particular culture”; and these “culturally available subject-positions are, simultaneously, obstacles and opportunities” (p. 4; see also Triece, 2000, pp. 242-243). Race and gender demarcate potential locations, and rhetors simultaneously invent their roles and negotiate the constraints and expectations that race and gender place on them. Campbell’s assertion that agency is communal also points to contexts that empower various groups rhetorically. For African American women, “rhetorical prowess has been intertwined historically with the artful ways in which they have participated as agents of change in community life” (Royster, 1995, p. 176).

Rhetorical agents choose and enact different subject-positions, and embodiment creates authority in distinctively nonverbal ways. People of color and white women never are disembodied; their physical presence always carries racialized and/or gendered meanings. Although physical presence shapes and constrains symbolic action, it can also be marshaled, as Leff and Utney (2004) demonstrate, to allow rhetors to perform and convey experience in “ways that no propositional argument could accomplish” (p. 45) or even to claim alternative and empowering definitions of their physicality (Painter, 1996, pp. 139-142; see also Bacon, 2002; Fanuzzi, 1999; Peterson, 1995).

The Master’s Tools: Complicity, Resistance, or Both?

Critics who study marginalized rhetors who use traditional strategies confront African American feminist poet and essayist Lorde’s (1984) famous words in her 1979 speech to the Second Sex Conference in New York: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change” (p. 112). Can rhetors who use such tools practice resistance?

Some scholars have investigated the ways that marginalized groups create alternative rhetorics—strategies and forms developed in order to respond to a marginalized group’s needs. Flores (1996) posits that a “rhetoric of difference” allows “Chicana feminists” to “construct an identity that runs counter to that created for them by either Anglos or Mexicans” and to defy “other-created images” (pp. 143, 146); Davis (1998) proposes that “a rhetoric of humanity underscores an African cosmology of harmony and time” (p. 80). These alternatives vary, yet they share a focus on everyday experience, a rejection of external definitions, and openness to diversity within a community.

Many marginalized rhetors rely on conventional techniques, and the practices of some do reinforce the master’s privilege. In various contexts, white women have silenced women of color or reinforced stereotypes of them (Bacon, 2002, pp. 124-135; Cramer, 2003; Powell, 1995; Zaeske, 2003, pp. 62-66); Asian women use terms that suggest essentialist differences between the sexes (Wu, 2001). As Sutherland (1999) warns, critics must take care not to “search for ourselves” by assuming that the history of any group to which the critic belongs will follow the critic’s “preferences and political agendas” (p. 14; see also Garrett, 2002, pp. 92-93).

Conventional strategies can be used to resist oppression and patriarchy. Campbell (1998b) asserts that “what seem to be the master’s tools” not only allow “a female voice” to “emerge” but also can challenge “received wisdom” and “undermine, even sabotage, the master’s house” (pp. 112-114). Illo (1966/1972) and Walker (1992) demonstrate that African American speakers rely on classical oratorical tropes, even in explicitly radical discourse. Using the master’s tools can be an act of appropriation and reinvention, a refashioning that turns them into weapons against oppression (Bacon & McClish, 2000, p. 21). What hooks (1994) asserts about slaves’ appropriation of language applies to the master’s tools generally: “This language would need to be possessed, taken … seized and spoken by the tongues of the colonized … re-hear[d] … as a potential site of resistance” (pp. 169-170). Nineteenth-century African American women, for example, accepted and challenged aspects of the “cult of true womanhood” (Bacon, 1999b, 2002; Behling, 2002; Campbell, 1989; White & Dobris, 2002). Antebellum African American women drew on dominant tropes in order to reinvent themselves in potentially revolutionary ways (Bacon, 2002; Bacon & McClish, 2000). Ouyang (2001) examines the “manipulation of dominant language” (p. 204) in the texts of the Eaton sisters, who were of Chinese and English descent. (For African Americans, appropriation and revision includes signifying, explored below.) Flores (1996) asserts that Chicana feminists take the “very acts that are used to denigrate Chicanas, such as the use of Spanglish,” and marshal them as “tributes to the uniqueness of Chicanas” or reinvent the symbol of the Virgin Mary to transform her from “passive idol to be worshipped to active strong woman” (p. 148).

Rhetors do not make either/or choices between so-called traditional and alternative tactics; they use whatever is available. Ritchie and Ronald (2001) maintain that throughout history women have “connected] with and depart[ed] from the rhetorical tradition” and “redefined and subverted traditional means and ends of argument” (p. xvii). Rhetors also adapt to contexts; for example, indirection is common in Chinese discourse (Mao, 2004; Wu, 2001) as well as in that of white women, African American women, and African American men (Bacon, 2002). Choices vary with the rhetor’s position in society and the cultural and social factors constraining his or her discourse.

Critical Methods

Analyzing the discourse of those seeking social change is a challenge to critical methods (Campbell, 1971). Some critical methods develop out of the distinctive experiences of marginalized people. Others urge that conventional tools be redefined. Foss et al. (1997) maintain that instead of abandoning “the notion of ethos,” rhetoricians should consider how it might be developed from a perspective that accounts for “the communication of marginalized groups” (p. 130). Methods based on the distinctive features of discursive practice have demonstrated their value (Bacon, 2002, p. 9; Davis, 1998, pp. 82-83; Pennington, 2003, p. 305).

Close Readings, Historical Foundations

Accordingly, many critics ground their work in analysis designed to identify what is distinctive through close readings of texts. Paying attention to historical context—often challenging conventional assumptions—critics ask how the constructions of gender and race in a particular time and place shape a rhetor’s choice of strategies. Close readings allow critics to focus meticulously on the textual manifestations of the intersections of race and gender. Horton and Horton (1993a, 1993b) and Forbes (2003) examine the ways that militancy and resistance influenced the activism of 19th-century African American men.

Brown’s (1995) research demonstrates that African American women in the postemancipation South participated in public meetings, challenging widespread assumptions about separate public and private spheres, and it explores the complex public roles these women played. Campbell (1986, 1989, 2005), Logan (1995, 1999), Nero (1995), and Royster (2000), for example, explore the historical contexts of discursive acts by African American women, scrutinizing the circumstances that shape a text’s production.

Some texts present special challenges. Rhetors who are illiterate have their words transcribed by others, editors may intervene, and oral discourses may exist only in accounts by journalists. Scholars have determined that Lydia Child edited and, to some extent, altered Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Jacobs, 1861, cited in Mills, 1992) describing the ways in which Child’s assumptions about race and gender may have shaped the final narrative (see also Yellin, 1987). The 1850 Narrative of Sojourner Truth, transcribed by white female abolitionist Olive Gilbert because Truth never learned to read or write, includes observations that Gilbert identifies as her own. Critical analysis of Truth’s 1851 speech at a woman’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio, includes the ways that the prejudices or assumptions of Gilbert and other transcribers might introduce inaccuracies and the variations among different versions (Bacon, 2002; Campbell, 2005; Fitch & Mandziuk, 1997; Lipscomb, 1995; Mabee & Newhouse, 1993; Painter, 1996; Stetson & David, 1994). Murray (1991) identifies the ways that the oratory of Native Americans was recorded by whites for white readers with particular cultural expectations.

Traditional Methods

Students of 19th-century African American rhetoric recognize that it is appropriate to draw on classical as well as 18th-century models in analyzing this discourse because many African American rhetors were trained in these traditions (Bacon & McClish, 2000; Kates, 2001, pp. 53-74; McClish, 2005; McHenry, 2002). At the same time, the influences of gender and/or race on a rhetor’s work suggest that conventional categories must be adapted, reinvented, or challenged. African American oratory cannot always be easily classified as either epideictic or deliberative (Walker, 1992, p. 2). Bacon and McClish show that concepts from 18th-century Scottish faculty psychology were modified by 19th-century African American female literary society members in arguments for women’s activism and education.

Modern theoretical perspectives have proved useful. Burke’s (1945/1969a; 1950/ 1969b) explorations of the power of hierarchy, division, identification, and mystery and his attention to the ways in which language creates association and stratification have been appropriated to analyze the influences of race and/or gender (Bacon, 2002; Carlson, 1999; Lee, 2002; Logan, 1999). Logan (1999) adopts concepts from Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca’s New Rhetoric (1969) to analyze African American women’s rhetoric, noting that their work describes “the kind of communication nineteenth-century black women engaged in to address the pressing needs of people of African descent” (p. xvi). I have found it an appropriate framework for analyzing arguments that engage “the realm of values and interpretation,” including argument about “exegesis, particularly that which advocates alternative scriptural interpretations” (Bacon, 1999a, p. 9; Bacon, 2002, pp. 141-150).

Walker (1992) combines classical categories with elements of Hart’s (1990) cultural criticism, praising Hart’s attention to “cultural and mythic referents” invoked by speakers (p. 408). Dangerfield (2003) uses Hart’s framework to analyze the lyrics of hip-hop musician Lauryn Hill, which includes “the influence of culture” and links “individual experience, social connectedness, and cultural particularity” (p. 212). Logan (1999) and Wu (2001) apply Bitzer’s (1968) rhetorical situation to the discourse of late-19th-century African American women and post-Mao Chinese feminist rhetors respectively.

Alternative Approaches

Scholars apply intersectionality and “both/ and” to explore the ways race and gender shape the rhetorical practices of African American women (Bacon, 2002; Crenshaw, 1997b; Davis, 2002). Standpoint theory has been used to analyze the way that such intersections affect the epistemology and praxis of African American women (Bell, Orbe, Drummond, & Camara, 2000; McClish & Bacon, 2002; Orbe, 1998). As articulated by social scientists, such as Harding (1991) and Hartsock (1983), standpoint theory posits that epistemology emerges out of “socially situated knowledge” (Harding, 1991, p. 138). Research about women, Harding proposes, must be based on “the perspective of women’s lives” rather than on “assumptions and practices that appear natural or unremarkable from the perspective of the lives of men in the dominant groups” (p. 150). Orbe uses standpoint theory to illuminate the ways that differences and commonalities shape discourse (p. 7). McClish and Bacon use standpoint theory to analyze the discourse of African American and white women; however, any standpoint is expressed in language, and “the connection of language to power means that the mediating role of language is always a defining factor in shaping the discourse of the oppressed” (p. 32).

Some critics draw on Afrocentric concepts. Stanford (2004) examines the influence of an Afrocentric worldview on the poetry of a female inmate-student in a writing workshop in the Cook County Jail (Chicago). Dagbovie (2004) analyzes Afrocentric themes in the writings of 19th- and 20th-century African American women. Langley (2001) examines the impact of African epistemologies and the concept of nommo—“the generative and productive power of the spoken word” (Asante, 1987, p. 17)—on the 18th-century griot Lucy Terry Prince. In an analysis of the rhetoric of Essence editor Susan L. Taylor, Hamlet (2000) relies on “womanist epistemology,” which “combines Afrocentric and feminist consciousness with the uniqueness of African American female history, culture, and experiences” (p. 425). Significantly, Hamlet cautions that “a female Afrocentric standpoint might be different from a male Afrocentric standpoint because Afrocentric theories have marginalized African American women’s history and experiences just as traditional feminist theories have done” (p. 423). Jackson (1997) foregrounds gender in his exploration of Afrocentric conceptions of masculinity.

Signifying, a body of strategies linked to African religion and narrative, also has been used to analyze the discourse of African American women and men (Bacon, 2002, pp. 97-108, 215-218; Zafar, 1999). Described by scholars such as Gates (1987, 1988) and Mitchell-Kernan (1973), signifying subsumes tropes that exploit linguistic ambiguity and indeterminacy, such as the repetition and revision of dominant forms, the invocation of multiple linguistic meanings, and irony and ironic reversal.

Critics appropriate the notion of performance to consider rhetoric in which race and gender intersect. Race and gender are performed in discourse; moreover, discourse is a performance, and as Peterson (1995) notes, “speaking and writing” can be “a form of doing, of social action” (p. 3). Peterson analyzes the ways that 19th-century African American women such as Sojourner Truth and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper performed discursively while drawing on, recreating, and undermining racialized and gendered notions of their bodies and creating authority as they engaged “the performative power of the word—both written and spoken” (p. 3). Scholars have analyzed as performance the rhetoric of Deborah Sampson Gannett (Brookey, 1998; Campbell, 1995, pp. 485-490), Nelson Mandela (Zagacki, 2003), Native North American orators (Clements, 2002), and U.S. first ladies (Campbell 1998a; Parry-Giles & Blair, 2002). In addition, critics have begun to explore the performance of masculinity and/or whiteness (Gingrich-Philbrook, 1998; Warren, 2001a, 2001b).

Directions for Research

Although many scholars have considered intersections of race and gender in analyses of the rhetorics of women of color, critics sometimes have overlooked gender in studying the discourse of men of color, particularly the ways that manhood is expressed. Just as scholars have discovered that many of the tools used to study womanhood and women’s discourses were developed using the white female as a standard and, thus, cannot be applied to the lives and texts of women of color, so notions of masculinity must be reconsidered for men of color. As Jackson (1997) notes, many “paradigms” of masculinity have been “constructed with the European American male as the exemplary subject” (p. 743).

Whiteness increasingly is featured in analyses of the rhetorics of white women, but the influence of privileges and opportunities dependent on race are less often noted. Lack of attention to intersections of race and gender is most apparent in analyses of the rhetoric of white men. There is some attention to gender in analyses of white men’s rhetoric; yet, with some notable exceptions (Bostdorff, 2004; Ware, 1997; Wellman, 1997), critics rarely acknowledge that they are focusing on white masculinity. In so doing, they illustrate the “exemplary subject” trap Jackson (1997) describes and fail to challenge white privilege or the dominance of European American perspectives. Two recent volumes on the Promise Keepers (Claussen, 1999, 2000), for example, include analyses of the movement’s rhetoric. Race is mentioned in relation to the Promise Keepers’ stated goals of racial reconciliation and inclusion, yet only one chapter (Hawkins, 2000) discusses the impact of whiteness on the movement’s mainly white middle-class participants.

Although some theoretical treatments of Afrocentricity and Afrocentric analyses of discourse foreground gender, more are needed. Some scholars analyze discursive representations of Afrocentric masculinity, yet as Hamlet (2000) demonstrates, the rhetorical use of Afrocentricity by African American women differs from, modifies, or challenges that of their male colleagues. As noted, some work addresses the interaction of gender and race in the rhetorics of women and men from other ethnic backgrounds, but more is needed.

New methods and histories emerge as critics expand the range of texts they analyze by men and women of different ethnic backgrounds. The academy, including rhetorical studies, remains dominated by white scholars. Rhetoricians must dedicate themselves to changing their disciplinary complexion, advocating educational and social policies that will increase diversity in order to appreciate and celebrate the range of discourses in which race and gender intersect in journals, anthologies, and classrooms.