Monday, December 13, 2010
13. Unity of Language
Toward the Unity of North American Africans 13. Unity of Language
Language unifies a people, when they speak a common language, when there is a consensus on word definitions, an agreement on what terms are sacred and what words are profane and obscene.
Chaos comes into a culture when these is no longer a consensus on language, or what we call a psycholinguistic crisis, for words define reality. Words are the vehicle we use to express our interpretation of reality. When the words lose a once agreed upon meaning, it is as though the earth shifts beneath our feet, for we are no longer able to communicate with each other. We then suffer a mental paralysis, a breakdown of the psyche because we are talking loud but saying nothing.
The words thus lose their meaning for there is no agreement. If the culture in its normal state is communal but suddenly the focus shifts to the supremacy of the individual, then we have a problem. We cannot unite for freedom when there is no agreed definition of freedom. For you, freedom is a job. For her, freedom is land and economic independence. For him, freedom is being with same gender loving people, and for her it is the same. Nothing else matters. So what items can we agree upon that defines freedom? And are we going around the corner together or do we have a divisive situation that shall lead us nowhere except to tread water in a pitiful state until we drown, since we refuse to help each other push our agenda items because we don't agree.
We started out on freedom but got diverted into things not communal but individual. Or the language was polluted by class division. The bourgeoisie culture police attempted to define the terms of reality. We wonder by what right do they assume the gate keeper role. Perhaps by being placed into leadership by the oppressor.
In the 1960s, we revolted against the language of the colonial elite, the leadership of the liberation movement shifted because a new consensus on language came into vogue, the language of black power that transcended civil rights to human rights, that shifted from integration to liberation and yes, sometimes, separation. The old language was suddenly obsolete. The term Negro was cast into the dustbin of history. The Negro psycholinguistics shifted from passivity and non violence to revolution.
The Black Arts Movement helped to cause the paradigm shift in terms of language. We revolted from the bourgeoisie socalled proper speech. In our plays, poems, essays, songs, we broke free of the conservative language. We used such terms as motherfucker, yes, bitch, devil, cracker, peckerwoood, and other terms to express our rejection of the American language in favor our our Mother tongue, the raw ghetto language so despised by our culture police, for they were rejected as well. Of course we went to the extreme when we said anyone over thirty should be killed (Bobby Seale). But the expression in grass roots language advanced the freedom mentality in our people. We suddenly realized we can say what we want, we're truly free to do so.
Of course there was reaction, from the oppressor and the colonial elite. The police attempted to ban our plays, to invade our performances, to arrest us if we showed up to perform. The bourgeoisie refused to support us with their money. All this was actually good because it inspired us to continue doing our thing, realizing we were truly independent, no longer slaves to anyone.
We were not able to return to our native language as Ngugi wa Thiango has called upon African writers to do, for we have no idea what it is, though we attempted to learn Swahili, Arabic and Yoruba. And the little we learned helped advance our black consciousness and heal our psycholinguistic crisis. Yes, these languages unified some of us. We held classes in the hood with grass roots people who wanted to transcend the English or American language we called the slave master's language, so how can we ever break free speaking this devil language. This is the language of the kidnapper, the rapist, the man and woman who lynched us, who stole our very identity and replace it with his notion of our very being. Thus, it is he and his language that is profane and obscene, and must be rejected, for it is not the language of love, it is the language of violence and madness.
We thus call for silence as the language of love, since our psycholinguistic crisis is so great it is the cause of physical, emotional and verbal violence with our mates. Almost any word we say is cause for argument. And it is the same when we gather at conferences and gatherings. We must spend an inordinate amount of time debating terms, defining what we mean by freedom, liberation, reparations, gender identity. Yes, what is a woman, what is a man. Today "black brothers" is a gay term. How did "black brother" shift from revolutionary black men to gay men? Of course language is fluid and undergoing constant change. And those with power attempt to define the terms. How else did we come upon this English/American language? It was a violent act, a long process of domination and oppression. Toby was physically abused until he renounced his holy name Kunta Kinte. Muhammad Ali reversed the process, not only by renaming himself but forcing his opponent to call out his name in the ring. Ali chanted, "What's my name, what's my name?" as he beat down his opponent, but he was calling for more than name recognition but for the recognition of his being as a free black man, the member of the Nation of Islam, a transcendence of his American slave identity.
And yet today we have a reaction by the culture police such as Bill Crosby and others who would have us claim our American identity and stop naming our children African and/or Muslim names. He doesn't tell Jose to call himself Joe. He doesn't tell the Chinese who get rich in the hood selling us their food but speaking no English/American to go learn English/American.
He don't tell the Arabs who get rich selling us swine and wine in the name of Allah, to stop speaking Arabic in the hood and speak English/America.
Clearly, Bill Crosby suffers a psycholinguistic crisis of major proportion. And he is not alone. It is again for this reason that I call for the language of silence as the language of love, until we can indeed arrive at a new consensus. The Million Man March brothers took a vow to never use the term bitch. But in the hood bitch is clearly a trans-gender term, for males are called bitches these days, especially when they come incorrect in the dope culture. The dope boys will address an adult male dope fiend as punk bitch. "Punk bitch you better take this dope and get the fuck up otter here wit da quickness 'fore I smoke yo ass."
It's possible the language shifted when adults began buying dope from children, especially during the Crack era, reversing the natural order of adults serving children, thus children lost all respect for their elders and this aspect of the psycholinguistic crisis resulted. It was being addressed with this language when I was a dope fiend that made me want to recover so that I would no longer be so verbally debased by children who had every right to talk to me in this manner because I was, as a dope fiend, in the persona of a punk bitch!
There shall be no language of love until we stop behaving like a nigguh or punk bitch. Don't tell me to stop saying motherfucker while you are in bed with your mother, son, daughter. Who is the real motherfucker up in here, me or you? I'm saying it but you doing it!
Language confusion exists when there are contradictions in behavior, especially adult behavior that the children observe. And so when we hear them on the street, at school, in the clubs, in their raps, we must ask ourselves where they got this language from, and more importantly, what is the meaning of it. They are simply trying to do as we did, give order to reality by way of language. Is it better to be silent, to say nothing since the entire language is vile, polluted and corrupted. Let us not go to an examination of the political language, double speak, evasiveness,
subterfuge. See George Orwell's Politics and the English Language. Listen to the politicians lie and attempt to deceive the world with words, yes, talking loud but saying nothing. Vote for me, I'll set you free. Change we can believe in. Change is gonna come. A chicken in every pot!
Yes, silence, there are possibilities for unity if, we just be quiet. To speak is to fail the tone test, for anything we say is suspect, for we don't trust the language, the words, and most of all, we are not truthful in our expressions, in short, we have become liars too, in harmony with the ruling class and the culture police or those colonial elite gate keepers in league with the blood suckers of the poor.
Some day we shall arrive at the language of love, where we say what we mean and mean what we say, where we understand the tone test and can pass it, with the police, with a brother and with a sister, especially our mate who was going to make love with us until we said the wrong thing, even though we didn't intend to do so, something just slipped out carelessly, but we blew it. Baby's mood changed because we said the wrong word, or she took it the wrong way.
Let us strive to reach a consensus on this pitiful bastard language we speak, for these words are killing us, literally. Better to speak as little as possible until we can transcend to a language that unifies us and allows us to love each other unconditionally.