Monday, August 8, 2005

Know What I'm Sayin?

You know sometimes I think some (most) people talk just to hear themselves speak; especially those with “education”. It’s commonplace to hear people of “esteem” speak on C-Span or some other station that shows political happenings, and see someone talking and using words that even Webster himself would have to go to the dictionary to figure out. And then, if you’re not from where I’m from, and you drive through one the area that I grew up, you’ll hear loud boisterous vernacular from every street corner: the kind of talk that makes us proud and ashamed at the same time of being Black. So to that end, I pose a simple question. What’s the point?
Being a young educated black man in 21st Century America, I’m often faced with the decision of whether I should “keep it real” or “go corporate”. Neither one of them is a fair assessment to anyone. By the standards of most, “keeping it real” means that I make a choice to use broken English and a limitless amount of profanity. While on the other hand, “going corporate” would cause me to speak the King’s English to a tee, and from time to time dabble into the Old English art form. To combat this dilemma some geniuses came up with the idea of Ebonics. The mere thought of that was a slap in the face to me and every other Black person that lives in America. What it said to me was, “Since you don’t have the capacity to speak proper English, we’ll water it down to make it more acceptable for your kind.” To that I say, “Take your idea of Ebonics and ALL the money that you were going to spend trying to incorporate it into America, and use it where it SHOULD be used: on children who are today STILL feeling the after effects of slavery and its laws that made it illegal to teach Blacks to read. Use it to find our public schools better educators for our children who are today STILL feeling the after effects of segregation in public schools pre-“Brown v. Topeka BOE”. But that’s another point entirely.
Getting back to the issue at hand, though, I choose to be different. I chose to do neither. What I have chosen to do is BE MYSELF. Having studied each Spanish and French for 2 years, I can understand them, but can’t speak a lick of either one of them. By the same token, I can perfectly articulate and understand the King’s language as well as the street’s language. And most importantly, I know the appropriate time and usage of both.
During slavery, Black people created codes to speak in to help them plan escapes. And that could probably ultimately be traced to the way that our people speak today on the street corners and in their homes. But at times, we (i.e. Black people) don’t know when it’s inappropriate for us to use this particular type of talk.
By the same token, it’s insulting to us (Black people) when someone of another ethnic group (not just Whites) comes to us and says, “Hey Homey” or “What’s up my Brotha”. Okay. First off, I’m not your brotha. You’re insulting my mother. (Unless of course, you mean we’re siblings via religious principles. In such case, I’m your brothER). And just so you know, whenever you (i.e. people of other ethnic groups) start to use any of the words that we us as “ours”, it immediately loses all credibility and its cool factor.
So all that was said to say this: Black people, let’s learn when and how to use proper English. And all other people who don’t consider yourself Black, it’s okay to be yourself. Trying to speak the way that we do, doesn’t make you Black, neither does it make you cool. None of this stuff matters. What DOES matter is that we are able to communicate with each other effectively, without any confusion whatsoever. Words that we use everyday may be completely foreign to the next man. So when speaking to someone who is outside of your niche, break it down in terms that the common man should understand. Because the whole point in opening your mouth to speak to someone is to relay a point. If they don’t know what you’re saying, that’s wasted time, energy, and breath. And when you’re on your deathbed, WHEW!! Those three things that you wasted sure could come in handy.