Articles and Essays, Questions, Words & Works of Others

African American Vernacular English and a lay brief history of dialect integrity!

As posted to the United Front-Civil Rights Organization:

posted by Lex Scott

 

When white people or teenagers in general use it, they are still using AAVE (African American Vernacular English). It’s not only used by African Americans anymore, since our culture is mixed, and (especially suburban teenage male) whites were sold Black culture in pop culture (namely hip hop in the late 80s), and people who are not Black/African American feel a right to co-opt it. Also, I think since AAVE is an American dialect, Americans in general (of all colors and creeds) might use it sometimes, in certain settings–whether an authentic way they learned to talk or not, a later adopted dialect. I agree it can make people sound “uneducated,” but that’s because of race (and class) hegemony pushing whiteness=rightness in education.

The responses to the original anonymous Tumblr post point out that there is a grammar system, i think it’s also called a pattern of syntax, to “You [delete to-be conjugation] + article + noun object-of-sentence” or “You [delete to-be conjugation] + adjective.” And that in fact it *matches* the grammatical system (or pattern of syntax?) of Standard American English (SAE), or “proper” English.

Of course in actual life, in reality, at a job interview or in a professional situation, yeah, it sounds uneducated or is considered unprofessional–but that’s because the Anglo dialect (SAE) is the one given clout. It’s also why AAVE is termed a “vernacular,” language spoken in daily life, colloquially.

African American Vernacular dialect functions with the same if not more complexity as Standard American English.**

See, even though AAVE (and other dialects) actually have grammar or syntax patterns = rules…they’re devalued simply because they’re not the norm (SAE) that white Americans developed for English, by natural random language evolution and on purpose, especially for education and for professional speaking.

Ask yourself: How does it sound when someone speaks with a British cockney accent? Educated or uneducated?

If you are a person who’s not African American and/or did not learn to speak AAVE growing up, do you ever say phrases like, “Where you going?” or even “Where ya going?” These also omit the “are,” the to-be conjugation (though I don’t know if it is happening in the same way linguistically!).
And would you say this, would you speak like this in a job interview or in a professional setting?^^

**African American vernacular dialect functions with the same if not more complexity as Standard American English:

Because English is largely lacking in the subjunctive and other general or what-if verb tenses (cases? Linguists please help me out here!), or doesn’t have a different-sounding word or verb conjugation for the subjunctive or a certain verb tense, Africans who were brought here retained these tenses from their African languages. For instance, saying “She be…” + adjective or + -ing verb, using the infinitive auxiliary, or helping, verb is actually from Yoruba tribe language structure! And from some other African languages, if I remember right what I’ve learned. And it’s a structure **more complex** than that of English! It makes for an additional verb tense. English is missing this kind of verb tense and murky with others: for instance, describing a chronological spot on a timeline that’s distinctly in the present but also a lasting, though undefined, length or range–so when Africans from many different tribes were learning English, suddenly forcibly put into English-speaking American environments as slaves, people or a single person from one tribe mixed up with people from all different tribes who spoke different languages, and communicating, especially learning some English was a matter of life and death, these verb tenses / sentence structures stuck around! The African language infusions clarify the English or add to it.
(Linguists, please correct, if the infinitive in “pronoun + infinitive” structure is not an infinitive auxiliary!)

^^…What if in your job, and maybe in your life in all aspects, you never have to use “professional” speak…? When African Americans and other race people of color, and poor whites and light-skinned people before the category of “white” was so omnipresent as the norm, were kept out of “professional” jobs and business and life, there was no need to learn or adapt to “professional” English of the dominant educated class/race/group. So in that sense of course it is just as “professional” to use whatever dialect you speak–or even a different language or what’s called a “pidgin” (mixture of two languages into a business/commerce dialect) or a “creole”!  If you *are* a business person, say, a butcher or owner of a butchery, and you, say, talk to the German shepherd (no pun intended nor offense meant!) to get lamb and the Jewish Rabbi who speaks Hebrew to get Kosher meat and first-generation Italian immigrants and Irish immigrants, etc., will you speak perfect King’s English or Standard American English of the year 18-something-or-other or the early 1900s? If you are an African American who until segregation mostly was only interacting to do business with other African American people, except maybe sometimes with a few working-class People of Color and/or white, probably immigrant, people…what dialects of English would you speak?

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Articles and Essays, Happs!, Reviews, Words & Works of Others

Urgent Recommendation: Claudia Rankine’s CITIZEN

CITIZEN: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Not racist? Hear, listen, and grasp social and race issues with the renowned author, playwright, and poet. “I don’t think we connect micro-aggressions that indicate the lack of recognition of the black body as a body to the creation and enforcement of laws.” Claudia Rankine said last fall in BOMB.
Wait, what’s a “microaggression”?? These words matter.
CITIZEN: An American Lyric divulges and dissects day-to-day, often sub-surface racism and its effects beyond the moment. Her fifth poetry book, it made history, nominated for two National Book Critics Circle Awards, for Criticism and for Poetry; it won the latter, along with the NAACP Image Award, PEN Open Book Award, and others, and is the only New York Times nonfiction bestseller of its lyric kind.
CITIZEN calls out in solidarity if you’ve ever been run into by an armored tank of racial marginalization or been caught in a nasty traffic jam of intersectionality. Rankine calls you to action if you give a hoot or are susceptible to participating in systemic racism. Cultural theorist Lauren Berlant described in the BOMB interview, “Citizenship involves metabolizing in the language of your flesh what you call the ‘ordinary’ injury of racist encounter.” Rankine’s prose details scene by the millisecond, along with internal reaction, piling on inevitable, immediate, smacking social resonance in fell swoop after fell swoop. Each scene rounds out with that “metabolizing” as it happens, or as its consequence plays out within black bodies and minds constrained by white hegemony and apathy.
Los Angeles’ Fountain Theater produced an adaptation in August, spotlighting the versatility of CITIZEN and Rankine’s multi-form and -genre work. Her dialogue and descriptions came to life on stage particularly smoothly: The ensemble cast rove among different characters, black actors facing white actors, playing out scenes of surprise verbal, contextual complicity or attack and slow-motion, time-stopped response, outburst, or restraint. Sitting, watching in your red theater seat became complacency; cringing and squirming in it were not enough.
In interactions of daily and professional life, how can white people stop colluding to enact racism, even if unintentionally? How can all people not commit and not accept racial microaggression? Recognition of such words and acts is a start.

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Articles and Essays, Works in Progress

Facebook Satisfaction Survey Response: Dissatisfied with Privacy and Grieving over Social Experiments

Facebook Satisfaction Survey Response: Dissatisfied with Privacy and Social Experiments

I don’t like how difficult it is to figure out what can be seen by networks of people. I don’t like that even when a user sets something to only be seen by “Friends” network, for instance, or “Custom” select people, the post is not taken out of others’ NewsFeeds.

This is an issue in the “other” direction in a way, too–but primarily still an issue with the user not knowing how what is private or not works, and not having control or what is private or not private been set by or even *known* by the user:

I don’t like the algorithms where Facebook decides what a user sees of the user’s Friends or Networks, and of whom, in NewsFeed. Right while/after Facebook was “experimenting” with only showing people what some unknown person or group internally of Facebook (????kept undisclosed) were “happy” posts, I noticed that posts a young, troubled friend of mine were posting appeared on my friend’s profile page wall that I had not seen in my NewsFeed.  These were troubled posts…so I had not seen or known that my friend was having *so* much trouble. We use Facebook to keep in touch, to communicate, to know what’s going on with each other. When someone posts on Facebook with an open-privacy post, to Public, or sets the post to Friends or certain networks, the user–and the users friends and networks–are expecting it to be visible…available…in NewsFeed, and noticeable esp. when a person logs in or looks at Facebook at the time of or shortly thereafter a user posts. If I had seen these posts as they happened…as would be the case more so had they been in my NewsFeed as usual, and as expected, without those “experiments” on withholding posts that were deemed not “positive” or “happy” for a “happier” experience on Facebook…I would have interacted differently with my friend, and sooner, and responded to such posts, or contacted my friend some other way sooner. My young friend, troubled and posting about it to express herself, killed herself.  She expressed where she knew others could see, a form of reaching out, posting where she was under the impression others would see…her friends whom she was often too embarrassed to show weakness to in other ways or forms would see, her friends and mentors whom she expected to see these posts and to whom this was the most dignified way she could reach out…. But her posts did not reach our eyes as we expected, under and for the undisclosed purposes of purported and UNWITTING and NON-CONSENSUAL psychosocial experimenting by Facebook.

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Articles and Essays, Ruffled Draft, Works in Progress

What Does an Assault Victim Look Like? What Does Her Assailant Look Like?

“Cops Beat & Kidnap 12-yo Girl in Front of her Home, Claiming She was a Prostitute” (Story: http://bit.ly/1BE3j1F) Response

#doyougetityet  They always do this: Involved officers charge their victim with assault and/or interfering with official acts, in order to cover up their crime and violence and to make the person, or, here, her family, being that she is a young minor, go through and be stuck in a difficult, time-consuming, financially devastating, mentally and emotionally burdensome and even traumatic court case to “distract” her/them from being able to speak up about what was done to herself or themselves as victims (on top of, of course, going through the physical pain often to the point of medical injury, hospitalization, and/or continuous or permanent physical pain or limitation in the first place, and mental anguish also caused by the violence).  It deters focus, and legal focus, from and uses up resources needed for dealing with the actual victimhood, violence and/or injury, It is a COMMON LEGAL STRATEGY, initiated as protocol at the time of “incident,” i.e. victimization by officers or within the time frame of finishing and filing reports and charges.

Keep in mind a pending case is limiting in itself to the point of functionally injurious, often with long-lasting or permanent effect.  While the case against the 12-year-old or any such victim is ongoing, her or her family’s or any victim’s legal record prominently reads “pending case” of “pending charge,” and no matter the circumstance or physical violence she or her family or someone is suffering as a victim, and no matter how obvious to the common person or professional those physical injuries, the victimization, the absurdity of the situation, socially, professionally, and legally one is with pox, rights nixed, opportunities beaten away too by the baton and legal follow-up. …Including for some representation: attorneys, firms, Bar Association referral program participants, some legal aid (including actual area Legal Aid organizations or free or reduced-cost lawyers [legal advice providers] or attorneys [who represent in court]), or that rarity, pro-bono retaining,…are no longer an option for the victim; all of the above professionals, type of organization/agency, and lawyers normally participating in such programs or retaining arrangements…often won’t touch such a case with a ten foot pole. #doyougetityet

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Articles and Essays, Ruffled Draft, Works in Progress

On Crack

Boom, [Crack, / ya think you’re all that], / the Beat goes On / and on and on and on and on.”  I had this neighbor friend  in Albuquerque–yes, in the Bad-lands of Bryan Cranston and gang–whom I had to rescue from the throes of a seizure he was on from crack, and might have died from.  He lay there sprawled in the hall, a seemly smell escaping his apartment, and barely croaking my name out of his throat. He was wearing underwear; I think even tightey-whiteys just like in the show. His eyes were sunken in, and purple, and looked like a raccoon’s–I mean, literally, looked like a raccoon’s.  Glassy, beady, darting alllll crazy! Then I realized the smell was coming from him. He shook and convulsed, and tried to get up to step the one single step from his door that was perpendicular to mine to knock on my door. He couldn’t. He fell in jerky slow-mo half-in, half-out of his apartment, smacking himself against the door and the dirty hallway floor as he seized, straightening out–only his fucked up muscles and nervous system, mind you, not his life–in seizure after seizure that he was fully awake for, aware of losing control and his muscles tightening up so stiffly he smacked his body on whatever was available, and couldn’t stop it. He tried to look at me and talk to me through the seizures. Y’know, between when his eyes were rolling back up in his head so that I could only see the whites, like he were some evil zombie ghost from a movie.
Now, I had a friend who had epilepsy in college. She drank too much and that’s what gave her the seizures, nine times out of ten.  But this was different….
Since he didn’t have epilepsy, there wasn’t a somewhat predictable broken, sizzling neuropathway that the crack sent his body’s electricity on.
. . .

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Articles and Essays, Kettle-Cooked Epaulets

Behavioral Health by Brainwashing and Horror [draft]

A Lit Review of the Exposing of the (For-Profit) Teen “Help” Programs

Concern from a friend over the shock tactic and lack of large study sources for this Cracked article on troubled teen treatment programs prompts me to surf from that starting point, with my magnifying glass out.

My summary response to statistics for sourcing is to put in a plug for Qualitative Analysis of Narratives and Interviews.  That covered, . . . .

It looks to me like that Cracked article is a personal experience account. Granted, it is an essay written with some emotional rhetoric including sarcasm and maybe some sensationalism, it is a “sensationalist” (horror) story she’s been through. Also, the links are more “legit” articles, like “causing . . . [teens’] . . .problems _TO_WORSEN_” leads to a Washington Post article (though hasn’t that top newspaper has had a few of its own issues?) by the author of the book “Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids,” journalist Maia Szalavitz.  Several of the articles linked to are stories based on the book or the findings of the book, including the Vice.com article the next link at “_MY_STORY_IS_NOT_UNIQUE_,” but this article also includes quotes from new interviews with not only author Maia Szalavitz, but also a former teen sufferer of one of the programs.

I followed a link from this article about the 6 deaths in the past 8 years ( D: ) at programs under Aspen Education, one of the main, for-profit companies behind many of these teen “rehabs.”   A Salon article “Dark Side of a Bain Success” proved very comprehensive–and the finding of the for-profit political torture goes all the way to the top. Beware, more information into these programs and their far- and high-reaching backing by former and candidate Republican presidents just makes the reader sicker.  TRIGGER WARNING if you’ve had a negative teen, or adult addiction, rehab program experience.

What’s even sadder, though, is that the Wikipedia article on Aspen Education DOES NOT CONTAIN MENTION OF THIS CRITICISM or even links to it, and only mentions ONE of the young people who died in their “care,” of those SIX teen deaths!  Let’s change that!
In fact, the “Criticism” section on the Wikipedia page is actually self-serving to Aspen Education and their programs, critiquing the fact that programs were closed and staff switched, without mentioning why, because of the consequence of interrupting the continuity of a treatment plan–in fact, therefore, promoting sub-textually that the centers not be investigated or shut down . . . when this is exactly what the real critics are calling for!
(c) Copyright Sabri Sky January 18, 2014

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