Ethos, Pathos and Logos in 'Between the World and Me'

In 'Between the World and Me' essay, we see how Coates establishes mainly pathos and logos with the credibility of Richard Wright. Pathos here causes anger to those who have ripped away from the black body and the sorrow/fear for those who go about their day and are suddenly surprise with White Supremacy. Coates calls out history to conclude how America has gained success, giving them the power to destruct whatever they pleased. He speaks of police brutality, division of the world and the dreamers to get to his point. By addressing these concerns, he is establishing not only a survival guide for African Americans and his son but as well as bringing light to the problem, the black body being stolen leading to white privilege. When reading this, I feel a sort of relationship, and understanding of Coates life that brings a championship. As a person of color, I experienced similar events but not as brutal as Coates describes. With these feelings that I have the experience, the poem by Wright clearly uses effective pathos and logos. Bringing in the purpose of Coates: to deliver the sense of hope as well as to grasp the attention of those who have white privilege.

Logos is used as a way to reference back the history of America and how it has developed to the country that is today. As revealed by Coates, “At the onset of the Civil War, our stolen bodies were worth four billion dollars, more than all of the American industry [...] and the prime product rendered by our stolen bodies-cotton-was America’s primary export”. A perfect example of logos since it references back to the Civil War. Blacks were being employed as the US agricultural. Although they freed by the emancipation proclamation, they couldn't own property or land. Cotton was a major profit for America but was produced by African Americans. To add this history is to prove that America has become successful and wealthy by stealing the bodies (through slavery and then through labor) to develop America. Reflecting back to ‘the Dream,” the idea created in America where one comes in search for freedom and success, however, this dream was created by America’s success and America’s success was created by the stolen bodies.

To bring hope, there is a reference that African Americans have come so far from history. “We have made something down here. We have taken the one-drop rules of Dreamers and flipped them. They made us into a race. We made ourselves into a people”. The one-drop rule was a historical context to classify a race. This one-drop rule didn’t allow African Americans to communicate with other whites. Compare from back in history to now that a person of color can attend the same schools, restaurants, and etc., shows how African Americans came a long way. And building some hope to everyone who experiences racial discrimination. Since the one-drop rule was overcome, a person of color can overcome his and learn to live and make something for themselves while facing police brutality.

Pathos is used effectively to cause a sense of emotion of the victims of police brutality. Coates states, ”So I knew that PG County police had killed Elmer Clay Newman, then claimed he’d rammed his own head into the wall of a jail cell [...]. And I have read reports of these officers choking mechanics, shooting construction workers...”. There are clear actions done by of by police in America that shows the division of the race. Police for African Americans are not seen as a way to protect and serve, but as a way to steal their body away and gain more white privilege. When I read this, I feel a sort of anger and connection to Coates living in a black body. My family and I have always seen the police as a threat, we saw them as separating our family. Similar to Coates, it is the fear of losing someone. The purpose of this statement is to cause guilt for whites, to give a warning for people living in a black body, and open the eyes to people of the problem in America. Logos and pathos here attract the attention of white privilege people.

When Coates states, “The fear was there in the extravagant boys of my neighborhood, in large rings and medallions, their big puffy coats and full-length fur-collared leathers….”, I find it to be more pathos than ethos because it can cause a person to feel a certain way. At least, for me, I felt a connection since I grow up in a community where there was much of violence and gangs and one knew to stay away from a person that looked a certain way. It may cause others to understand why African Americans act this way. For example, there are many stereotypes that African Americans are more dangerous because they are dangerous proven by statistical analysis of imprisonment. However, the reason being is because they turn to whatever makes them feel in power of safe from the outside world that America created for them. It can also be a sign of hope because this reaches out to the African Americans that at the moment it made feel better to going gangs but remember that you are turning into something else, so you are still letting whites control your body.

Ethos is presented by recalling Coates experience along with his son Samurai, “A white woman pushed you and said, “Come on!” [...]. A white man nearby spoke up in her defense [….] The man came closer. He grew louder. I pushed him away. He said, “I can have you arrested’’’. This particular scene makes me feel a sense of disappointment towards America. America proclaims to be the land of the free and equality to all. However, it shows clearly whites seem to dominate backs because they feel like they are entitled to more. When the man says, “I will have you arrested,” shows that the police is the protection of whites and not blacks-division of the world. It seems like a way that the man is mocking and threatening Coates because the man knows African American has lived in police brutality. The white man is as well showing his privilege.

Coates expresses his experiences throughout his life since his life was build in all hardships: murders, violence, parents actions, and fear, which can’t be arguably (ethos). One of Coates experience was when he went to France, “Teenagers together in cafes. School-children kicking a soccer ball on the street [...]. The people wore no armor, or none that I recognized”. France is described as a place where one can freely walk and not get stopped or strip by Whites. This brings in a sense of hope for his son and any other African American. France is compared to America to show that America is the problem and the black body is beautiful in every way possible. Importantly, this can act as a way to stop the youth from going gangs to build armor against white supremacy.

Overall, Coates uses pathos, logos, and ethos in an effective way to get his purpose across: bring hope to people of color and to bring the attention of how Americans gained their white privilege. The amount of descriptive experience in terms of pathos: the victims of police brutality and the experiences were the most effective in the passage.It caused a sense of emotions that for me, it caused a sense of connection that made me tear up, while others it made have caused guilt realizing their privilege and yet that privilege is used in a bad way instead of a good way. In a good way as bringing the issue of the black body being stolen into the light. Logos made Coates argument more reliable since it is known in history and stated in many other articles or books rather than Ethos, Coates experiences. We can't argue with his experiences but we do not guarantee if he did go through those. Also, when Coates stated the name of the victims, I found myself going on the internet and searching the name of the people who were murder. Although I had to do this, I still found ethos effective because I helped with the purpose, but I would argue that pathos and logos were the most effective. 

11 February 2023
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