A different understanding of American patriotism

This study guide will help you analyze Deval Patrick’s TED Talk “A different understanding of American patriotism”.

In addition to help for your analysis, you can find a summary of the text.

Here is a short excerpt from the study guide:

There are several examples where Patrick repeats the same words at the beginning of several sentences (anaphora). An example is at the end of the speech, when Patrick lists the positive examples of people who have overcome their cynicism and engage in positive activism:

From women who are demanding to be treated with the respect and decency everyone deserves. From Black and brown people who are demanding consistent professionalism and the presumption of innocence from police. From students (…). From all those lawyers (…)

The repetition of the word “from” at the beginning of the sentence stresses the fact that these people are not the only ones who “shout justice”. Patrick also hints that there are more such cases which he could mention. The repetition is followed by a list of organizations which support human rights: “Black Lives Matter. Time’s Up. Black Girl Magic. Occupy Wall Street. Families Belong Together.” In listing these ethically motivated organizations by name, Patrick links himself and his message to them, which may help him seem more reliable (at least among audience members who share his admiration for these organizations).

The repetition of the phrase “America cannot be great without being good” is also significant in Patrick’s speech. This phrase may be intended as a critical comment on former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America great again”. Patrick’s point is that true greatness must be based on moral goodness, such as being kind to refuge children or creating equal opportunities for everyone. This becomes a direct criticism of the people who believe that a country’s greatness is simply a matter of economic success. 

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A different understanding of American patriotism

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