Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders, and resistive rhetoric on the electoral stage
Jessica Danielle Kostelnik
December 8, 2017
Department or Program
Heather Ashley Hayes
Interruption, as a rhetorical tactic, has long been understood as a resistive act to silencing. Silencing those who wish to speak is a method of policing behavior. Interruption allows a rhetor to confront silencing tactics designed to disenfranchise them from their political and social systems. In this paper, I analyze the Black Lives Matter interruption of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rally in 2016 to understand how the Black Lives Matter protesters used interruption to reject silencing tactics employed by the Sanders team. Turning to the work of Jacques Rancière, I additionally demonstrate how silencing tactics are a rhetoric of control. To reject this control, marginalized groups can practice incivility—negating a policing logic that determines who is permitted to speak and when. In the case of the Sanders rally, protesters Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford demonstrate the ways that uncivil interruption facilitates a space for struggle and social change.