The primary purpose of “I’d Rather Be Black Than Female” is expressive. The first sentence of the essay, “the first black woman elected to Congress” (409), provides an historical context for the reader and a self-definition of Chisholm. Later the in essay, Chisholm adds more detail about her political career by writing “I have been active in politics for more than twenty years” (409). By self-definition, Chisholm is introduced as a seasoned politicians, who has struggled against patriarchal expectations of female behavior. In terms of expressing her values, Chisholm is dedicated to civil rights and feminism. Chisholm writes about whites indifference towards racial prejudice until “blacks finally started to ‘mention’ it, with sit-ins, boycotts, and freedom rides” (409). Another topic, related to feminism, is the lack of high-ranking political offices held by women, “No women sit on the Supreme Court. Only two have held Cabinet rank, and none do at present. Only two women hold ambassadorial rank” (410). The essay concludes with why Chisholm’s values women in politics: “It is women who can bring empathy, tolerance, insight, patience, and persistence to the government” (411).
Emotional responses are another characteristic of the expressive purpose. Chisholm uses emotional responses through emotional language, such as “love” (411), when describing her opinions on teaching, a...
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...an Female,” Shirley Chisholm primarily uses the expressive purpose to convey her opinions and experience of racism and sexism, specifically in politics. By utilizing self-definition, emotional responses, expression of values, and first-person pronouns, Chisholm paints a picture of injustice and inequality. The referential purpose is secondary, but contributes to the essay by explaining and expanding on the topic of women in politics. In terms of pattern, the essay uses classification with the subgroup of comparison/contrast. By using comparison/contrast, Chisholm provides the reader with examples of women treated as second-class citizens versus blacks being treated as second-class citizens. The comparisons/contrasts include societal expectations of racial and gender roles. Chisholm uses the purposes and patterns to make a case for equality within the political sphere.
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