The rhetorical emergency kit: Engaging ethically with end the silence and protest rhetoric on a campus in crisis

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This article offers a theoretically based solution to faculty hesitation to engage in difficult dialogs on a campus in crisis. Using the constructs of Ratcliffe’s language of rhetorical listening through the lens of Freire’s interactive educational framework from the stance of second-wave whiteness studies, this paper argues that instructors can engage in ethical discourse in situations of campus crisis such as vandalism, campus hate crime, instances of micro-aggressions, national tragedy, or other traumatic events. Drawing on a history of social justice in the classroom, the importance of listening, the necessity of reflection on whiteness, the self, and social inequity and immersive forms of social justice this article explores the theoretical constructs of rhetorical listening as a framework to create a safe space for students to voice their concerns in moments of unexpected upheaval. Beginning with unpacking conscious identity and dis-identity and illustrating how consciousness can allow for eavesdropping and lead to an exploration of accountability logic, this article illustrates an applicable method to assist students to understand and draw strength from social interdependency. Accepting that the classroom is a public space, and that the campus is a microcosm struggling with the civil liberties issues of our country, this article hopes to offer a practical rhetorical emergency kit for high school and college instructors to use across disciplines to support student voice and student listening and create safe classroom space in moments of crisis.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Curriculum and Pedagogy
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • social justice
  • rhetoric
  • difficult dialogs
  • protest
  • second-wave whiteness studies


  • Arts and Humanities
  • Rhetoric and Composition

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