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Aristotle, Luke Cage and Talking About Trauma

Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. candidate Angela Mack

Do a Google Scholar search for Angela Mack, and you will find a piece entitled “Afrosurrealism, Aristotle, and Racial Presence in Netflix’s Luke Cage.” An unusual set of subjects to be sure, but Mack’s talent is such that she goes between talking about the ancient Greek philosopher and the Netflix series inspired by the comic of the same name with ease.

“I am a huge Marvel Cinematic Universe fangirl,” Mack said. “What I found interesting was that Luke Cage is a bulletproof superhero in black skin. One of the trademarks in that show was him wearing a hoodie with bullet holes. This was a way of giving a very visible badge of honor to Trayvon Martin and the movement for Black lives to matter,” she continued.

“I saw how the show is making some classic rhetorical appeals with Luke Cage’s Hercules-like journey, but also a commentary on race, on our country grappling with whether we are post-racial and radical changes of the administration,” Mack concludes.

Mack’s research focuses on how the perspectives of African American rhetorics specifically, along with the rhetorics of Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, can be interpreted through multiple definitions of space and place, even in the classroom.

To that end, her dissertation project is based on her own experience and a tragic element of recent Fort Worth history. On October 12, 2019, Atatiana Jefferson was killed in her home by Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean.* Mack is native of Fort Worth’s Morningside neighborhood, not far from were Jefferson resided in the same zip code. Morningside, and its associated zip code of 76104, have some of the highest levels of poverty in Texas and the lowest life expectancy of any Texas zip code.

The pandemic forced an intense focus on issues of police brutality and a racial reckoning across the nation, and according to Mack, she watched her community react and began to ask questions.

“The greatest thing to advocate for may be a bit cliché, but it’s true, ‘representation matters.’ Black history should be part of who we are and what we do in honor of it regularly.” – Angela Mack

“What I began to think through is that after everyone finishes the initial protests and rallies and marches, and things start to die down, what happened after?” she asked. “Who’s exploring the narratives of where these tragedies happen, the impact on those families and communities, how we sustain ourselves, move through it and figure out life, in those areas of trauma?” she continued.

Mack hopes her dissertation will document how Jefferson’s family and the Fort Worth community has dealt with the tragedy and heals itself moving forward, even with a trial approaching.

In closing, Mack recounted how her presence helped inspire an undergraduate student, also a Black woman, to begin graduate studies of her own. “I have a student who was the very first class that I taught here at TCU. She is getting ready for graduate school and part of the reason she told me was that she saw an instructor that looks like her,” Mack said.

“The greatest thing to advocate for may be a bit cliché, but it’s true, ‘representation matters.’ Black history should be part of who we are and what we do in honor of it regularly,” she concluded.

*Dean was indicted for murder by a Tarrant County grand jury in December 2019. The trial is expected to begin in May 2022In January 2022, lawyers for Dean asked for a change of venue. No decision on a change of venue has been announced at the time of this article’s release.