Christopher Collaguazo – “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin – Response — Classic Editor
After reading “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin, he talks about his definition and point of view of what language is. One of his main points was that language is a political instrument, he says “It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity”(Baldwin). This conveys how language defines who one is based on the larger public or communal identity. In his definition of language, he views it as a way for a group to be allowed to define and express who they are based on other groups perspective of them. For example, he mentions “A Frenchman living in Paris speaks a subtly and crucially different language from that of the man living in Marseilles,” this shows how these two different people living in different parts of France are viewed differently due to their different language despite of the common language in France which is French. Another main point of James Baldwin is when he talks about the differentiation between a language and a dialect. He supports this by saying “A people at the center of the Western world, and in the midst of so hostile a population, has not endured and transcended by means of what is patronizingly called a “dialect”(Baldwin). He defines a dialect as a simply version of a language that white people talk. He adds on by saying how black people back in slavery time deserved more than a simple version of the white language.
One interesting idea that stood out to me was when James Baldwin says “There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous”(Baldwin). An example of this is when the attack of 9/11 happened, there were was a lot of hatred towards Muslims. People of the United States believed that any Muslim that lived in the U.S. were the ones to blame but in reality the main one to blame was the group of ISIS. Also, people became very uncomfortable near any muslim who spoke in their language and this turned into danger for Muslim people because many people of the U.S. wanted to separate themselves from the Middle East. This proves how James Baldwin saying that a certain language could be dangerous because any Muslim, Indian, or Pakistan would be treated unfairly, get the cops on them, and even get violently attacked by an American
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