Creating a Space to #SayHerName: Rhetorical Stratification in the Networked Sphere


Borda JL, Marshall B. Creating a Space to #SayHerName: Rhetorical Stratification in the Networked Sphere. Quarterly Journal of Speech [Internet]. 2020;106 (2).


This essay examines #SayHerName as a case study to analyze how circulation of the hashtag both challenged women’s erasure from #BlackLivesMatter discourse and motivated activists to center the stories of Black women killed in police interactions. We introduce the term rhetorical stratification to discern why the #SayHerName hashtag came to matter, and how it remained relevant in the national discourse about police brutality. To do so, we analyze how the #SayHerName movement evolved from the discursive to the material through policy briefs, social media circulation, and citizen journalism, which influenced news framing and initiated greater deliberation about this issue in both the networked public sphere and in local communities. We conclude that this hashtag invitation to digital activists engaged more nuanced perspectives about police brutality and policy reform, influenced the way Black women victims of police violence are covered in the news, and motivated community-based policy proposals addressing necessary changes in local policing.

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Last updated on 06/20/2020