The current social situation in United States suggests that the notion of racial differentiation is extremely important. Indeed, division into social groups in accordance with race is a common phenomenon in educational establishments, workplaces, and in routine life in general. It determines people’s way of life and attitudes of others towards them. However, is such differentiation justified? In his article “It’s Class, Stupid!” Richard Rodriguez managed to prove the existence of another, more objective criterion for social groups’ differentiation, which is wealth level. One of the main issues of the author’s concern is color of skin as the most significant factor for living in American society. Rodriguez gives a lot of evidence for this idea, using elements of exemplification in his article. For instance, the author mentions the American writers, who “are brilliant at describing what it is like to be a racial minority” (Rodriguez, 1).
Using such irony, the writer clarifies to the readers his position, showing that he disapproves such preoccupation of his nation with race differentiation. In contrast to the existing way of social distinction, the author offers an alternative one, which is dividing people into rich and poor. He introduces the notion of “poor whites” (Rodriguez, 1), in order to prove that not only black people suffer from social inequity. Rodriguez names numerous cases, which show the relevance of such reevaluation of society. Specifically, he tells about poor whites, who are willing to study, but who have no other choice but finding a “dollar-and-cents job working at Safeway or McDonald’s”, due to the financial state of their family (Rodriguez, 1). Thus, Rodriguez proves that material comforts or their absence are more important than belonging to a certain racial group. Moreover, Rodriguez insists that subdivision of society into classes is a more objective way of social differentiation.
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The author emphasizes, “poor whites do not constitute an officially recognized minority group” (Rodriguez, 1). Therefore, the writer encourages Americans, focused on racial narrow-mindedness, to extend their limits of society perception and admit the existence of social classes. What is more, Rodriguez mentions European society as the one, where the acknowledgement of lower social groups is progressing, setting an example for Americans. This proves the rational nature of author’s ideas. It is worth mentioning that Rodriguez uses a persuasive tone in his argument.
One of the evidences is the use of irony and sarcasm in the article: “Our only acknowledgment of working-class existence is to wear fashionable working-class denim” (Rodriguez, 1). The other feature of persuasion is the use of such lexical units as “sneer”, “rednecks”, “trailer-park trash”, etc. (Rodriguez, 1). In addition, the writer uses a deductive type of discourse, developing his ideas from general statements to specific examples. Such tools help the writer to express his opinion more clearly and influence the readers.
The main target emotions that are to be caused are shame, self-consciousness, and compassion. All in all, the article of Rodriguez is aimed at showing the division into rich and poor more adequate than the division into black and white. Thus, the article discusses an important and topical social issue, which proves its usefulness.
The author uses various techniques in order to prove his idea; he presents evidences of his own experience and of world famous cases, which support his point of view. The author is rather successful at persuasion, and his article is very educational.
Rodriguez, Richard. “It’s Class, Stupid!” Salon. Nov.
1997. 14 May 2010.