The article “You Can’t ‘Steal’ a Culture: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation” by John McWhorter

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The Daily Beast post “You Can’t ‘Steal’ a Culture: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation” by John McWhorter is an insightful essay in which the author attempts to speak against the concept of imitating the ways of other groups, with particular emphasis on minority groups. As a result, the imitation in the writing of the commentary is meant to prevent the involved parties from considering the need to improve and be creative. However, it is noted that while there is no specific sentence in the paper that describes the author thesis statement, it is apparent that the overall focus is the use of rhetorical appeals to discourage the trend where white groups are following the trends initiated by the minority groups in the US.

One of the identified features from the passage is that there is a characteristic use of ethos that the author uses in the establishment of character. Ethos involves the consideration of ethical appeals to make it appear that the subject that he highlights has been well discussed in broad setting and has been proven to be consistent in the community. The author writes, “A much-discussed recent editorial in Time, where a black woman tells white gay men to stop imitating them by taking on their gestures and expressions, neatly illustrated the nut of the issue (McWhorter). The statement is used by the author to convince the reader into believing that their story and justifying the trustworthiness of the narrated issues. Thus, the author assumes that the audience is not much informed about the trends that varied reports that are taking place and which are crucial.

From the passage, it is also seen that the author seeks to gain the attention of the reader through the appeal to their emotion. Referred to in Greek as the concept of pathos, this type of appeal is primarily focused on making a decision based on anger, pity and fear, all of which are intended to consider emotions (I.S.U. Writing Center 2). A suitable quotation that justifies the feature is the statement where the author describes that “We are now to get angry simply when whites happily imitate something that minorities do” (McWhorter). The effect that the reader gets, in this case, is that the author is disappointed with the challenge that it appears that he has become a victim. The assertion that the writer makes is that the audience is ignorant about the basic need for the code of ethics that will not create further minority effect.

The essay also considers the need of logos as a suitable approach to convincing to the reader through employing the appeal to reason. The editor appreciates this factor when they require the audience to involve some basic reasoning to understand the justification process. The author considers varying statement bearing facts as a huge consideration to justify the use of logical appeal. Sentences like, “A great deal of black culture was “appropriated” by young America as recently as the ’90s” and “In the ’20s, white Carl Van Vechten started feeling so comfortable…” (McWhorter). The implication that the reader get is that of various statistics and fact being used to show that calories. The assumption that the author makes in the publishing of the paper is that everyone is accustomed to the idea because they are likely to be motivated by facts.

Thus, through an assertive tone, the author uses the appeal to reason, logic, and emotion as the primary ways of convincing whites to quit imitating the minority groups. The affirmative tone is effective because it enables the reader to appreciate the understand the need to stop black imitation. Through the structuring of the essay in the form a narration, the author was successful at passing their argument.

Works Cited

I.S.U. Writing Center. “Ethos, Pathos and Logos.” Student Success Center (2013): n. pag. Web.

McWhorter, John. “You Can’t ‘Steal’ a Culture: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation.” The daily beast (2014): n. pag. Web.

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