An Analysis of “Memphis: A Tale of Two Cities” 

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The article, “Memphis: A Tale of Two Cities” was published by Troy L. Wiggins in 2017 to discuss the unnecessary urban development and the impoverished. Wiggins delves into his personal experiences growing up in Memphis, arguing that the city has twisted priorities. More specifically, he interprets his own impression of the development of Crosstown Concourse, a building centered on the idea of an “urban village,” being more important than the quality of life of the poor who live in the surrounding areas. Wiggin’s targeted audience is more fortunate Memphians who are unaware of the way in which Memphis is prioritizing urban development over the wants and needs of the poor. To further his claims, he provides a summary of an interview conducted with a resident of a less fortunate neighborhood in South Memphis. Wiggins organizes his argument by alternating between experience and evidence to convince Memphians who are unaware of the unfairness. He utilizes his own experiences, strong imaging and pathetic and logical appeals to create an ethos and to support his argument that the new developments of the city are pointless when more basic needs of the poor have yet to be taken care of.

Wiggins incorporates his background to convince the reader. His main ethical appeal involves detailed accounts of his grandmother and her attitude towards the growing urban development. The first account takes place in Wiggin’s childhood in the 90s during a bus ride passing Crosstown Concourse. “As we passed the building, Granny looked up at it, cursed (she only cursed when she was mad), and sighed” (Wiggins 1). Wiggins included this to display the point of view of an impoverished Memphian when Crosstown Concourse was undergoing an early renovation. His grandmother did not approve of the new development, while the poor were without the fundamentals the more well-off were certainly receiving. Another first-hand experience included by Wiggins touches on a modern-day outlook, nearly twenty years later, of another Memphian outraged by the less fortunate being put on the back-burner. While visiting a lead-contaminated area of South Memphis, he crossed paths with a woman who had a striking resemblance to his late grandmother. Wiggins included her complaints in his argument:

Where were the opportunities for her children and grandchildren to escape the chains of poverty that had held her in place for generations? Where were the nearby jobs? Adequately funded schools? There isn’t a full-service grocery story within three miles of her house. (Wiggins 1).

The woman told him that while Crosstown Concourse was reinventing itself, basic necessities of her community were being neglected by the city. Wiggin’s incorporation of his own life’s events makes his argument all the more compelling.

Wiggin’s attempts to appeal to the reader’s logical reasoning to create a strong argument. He sheds light on what was actually happening in the surrounding areas of Crosstown Concourse’s opening day. Wiggins includes a juxtaposition to provide an example of how Memphis is figuratively living two different tales:

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Less than three miles from the celebration of Crosstown’s shining beacon, hundreds of protesters (many of whom are descendants of the slaves that kept Memphis living in high cotton) decided to use their bodies and lives to demand that our elected representatives stand on the correct side of history and remove hateful edifices from our taxpayer-funded parks. (Wiggins 1).

While the people Wiggins claims are made a priority by Memphis are inside the newly-designed building observing performances, families are protesting for the city to remove historic statues they believe are promoting the incorrect side of history. He includes this logical appeal to expose what is underneath the good face Memphis puts on. Additionally, Wiggins gives more examples of issues in poorer parts of the city that Memphis has not found a solution for yet:

How can I be excited about the Crosstown Concourse when there are thousands of unemployed and underemployed Memphians in a two-mile radius of its doors? How can I be excited about the Crosstown Concourse when entire swaths of the city remain blighted and infested with vermin and waste? How can I be excited about the Crosstown Concourse when white supremacy, the system that makes Memphis great (for white residents) is still deeply ingrained in every facet of our city’s operation, from the police to the politics to the food and employment deserts, and is still killing people in whatever way it deems best — just like it killed my Granny? (Wiggins 1).

This section allows the reader to put themselves in the writer’s shoes. Wiggins’s use of logic greatly helps to convince more fortunate Memphians of the neglect of the impoverished. While providing facts, he also includes a small, nonetheless effective, snippet of his grandmother as a pathological appeal at the end of this paragraph. By mixing together logical and pathological appeals, Wiggins creates a valid argument.

Troy L. Wiggins uses a blend of logical, ethical and pathological appeals to establish his argument as credible. He provides logic when discussing the protests taking place in the same area, as well as the on the same day, as the opening of Crosstown Concourse. Wiggins uses this fact to further his claim that Memphis prioritizes the wealthy and does not care about the basic rights of the poor. Ethical appeals were utilized throughout his argument. Wiggins identifies himself as a less fortunate Memphian, making him a credible witness. He gives several examples of his experiences growing up feeling less prioritized by the city. Further, Wiggins blends ethics and logos when he includes an interview with a South Memphis woman fed up with the mistreatment. In his discussion about the woman’s claims, he includes a statistic involving lead contamination in the soil where the she lived to establish validity. Lastly, Wiggins appeals to the reader’s emotions by including many statements of and about his deceased grandmother. The inclusion of her suffering serves as one of his strongest points. By forcing the reader into an emotional state, Wiggins effectively uses pathological appeals. His blending of each appeal helps to further the credibility of his stance.

Wiggins presents a well-grounded and interpretive revelation that reveals the ways in which urban development is prioritized over the impoverished. He argues that the condition of less fortunate Memphians is the result of Memphis catering to the wants of the wealthier class. Wiggins insists that instead of facing the issues the poor try to bring to light, Memphis covers them up with new, shiny buildings. Conclusively, his mixing of facts, personal experience, emotional appeals and quotes presents an interesting argument.

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