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Kahleb Plak

Professor Hellmers

ENG.1201

25 June 2020

Visual Text Analysis

If you have even opened any social media app within the past 10 years, it is almost

certain that you have either seen from or heard from, a quite controversial man, Kanye West.

Furthermore, if you have heard his music, then you are almost certainly in agreement with

myself, saying that he is quite an interesting, yet controversial man. Ranging from discussions

about corrupt diamond trade in Sierra Leone, to saying that Slavery was a choice. For instance, if

you take a deep look into his song, “Jesus Walks,” you will come to understand that he is quite a

knowledgeable man when it comes to discrimination. While both versions of Kanye West's

"Jesus Walks" attempt to showcase and face the great oppression that African Americans have

faced in the past, and continue to face in the future, the 2015 remake acknowledges a shift in

media attention that African Americans are receiving based off of discrimination. This version

highlights the fact that, even after all these years African Americans are STILL facing issues

with, not a problem of race, but more a lack of human rights. While both videos attempt to tackle

and slow discrimination, the latter of the two seems to appeal more to modern day issues, not

issues from the past.

While both videos are for the same song, they both vary heavily on what content is being

shown in the video, however, the content seeming almost opposite between the two videos, has a

link that not everyone may be able to realize during the first glance of the videos. The claims in

both of the videos for the song is simple; We have progressed so far from Slavery, yet it is still
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so common for African Americans to still face hardship and discrimination, no matter what the

situation is. In essence, even though the title of the song is “Jesus Walks” I feel that a more

fitting title for the song would be something like “Racism Lives” or something of the sorts,

because to me it feels like the song is more focused on African American’s rights rather than

Jesus. Where the videos vary, is in the context that they show discrimination. In the older of the

two videos, the discrimination is shows through a “Chain Gang” which is basically a group of

prisoners who do labor to pass their time, and are chained to eachother by their ankles. This

video to me focuses more on a systematic type of racism, basically slavery as a whole to me.

However, the more modern of the two videos I believe is more impactful, because it shows a

more widespread situation that African Americans are facing, showing media evidence, and

almost making it seem like the news.

Along the lines of appeals that are created throughout the duration of both of the videos,

the only appeal that stands out to me as almost oblivious is Pathos. To me, Pathos is the most

obvious appeal that is created because, it makes sense that during a discussion about a sensitive

subject, such as racism and discrimination, you would want the main feeling for the reader /

listener to be emotional. I feel that the goal for Kanye, and the producer of the music video were

for people to listen to the song, pay close attention to the lyrics, and realize how truly sad what is

going on in the world is, and how easily it is to avoid it. I say “easily” however that is only in

discussion. This is not a perfect world, so sadly nothing is “easy” even treating another human

being as an equal is too hard for people these days, which is depressing.

The audience in these videos, is everyone who is watching. This song and these videos

seem to be a kind of “Call for help” that Kanye is making as an African American, I feel like

through the videos he is trying to put it out there that although things may seem “fine” for
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Blacks, they are not “fine” in fact they are not good at all. The audience can also be argued to be

young people, like aforementioned I believe that youth can be an audience because they could

interpret this message differently, than say someone late in their life, because to be frank,

someone younger has a lot more time on this planet to make an impact, and maybe change the

world.

I am a big fan of this song, and I heavily enjoy the music video because I think that

someone as controversial as Kanye, can do great things with his platform. We have come a long

way from slavery, and we still have a long way to go, whether people like it or not. I hope that

the audience of “Jesus Walks” can see just how much discrimination remains in the world even

though it may not seem apparent, and hopefully one day we can push the issue off the table, and

not have to worry about judging someone off of something that they have no control over, the

color of their skin.

Works Cited

Kanye West. “Kanye West - Jesus Walks (Version 2).” 24 Dec. 2009.

Kiara, Javonte. “Kanye West Jesus Walk Version 1 - Video Dailymotion.” Dailymotion,

Dailymotion, 22 Aug. 2015, www.dailymotion.com/video/x32ohgw.


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