Christopher Lara response to “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?”, By James Baldwin

In “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?” written by James Baldwin, he provides his perspective on what language truly represents. In James Baldwin’s op-ed, he states, “it goes without saying, that language is a political instrument, means, & proof of power”, conveying the idea that language brings people together. I believe he is trying to say that although there are different languages and different variations speaking all around the world, people share a common ground in understanding one another at a certain point. Baldwin says,  “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances”, and this is exactly how and why Black English was formed. Black English was formed under historical events which occurred in America, which took part into developing this form of language. For example, he mentions that the white man never meant to teach the black man, the white man just needed them to understand them for the sole purpose of serving them. Black English is the creation of black diaspora. Another concept James Baldwin brings up in his writing is that language can be used not just be used for communication, but to classify people. It reveals the private identify of an individual as Baldwin states, and it can be used to identify people’s background, salary, school, etc.

In general, I was most intrigued by James Baldwin’s writing as a whole. As I read this, I felt the anger his words conveyed and you can really notice the emotion throughout the writing. He was angry at the fact that the white people did not want to accept Black English. He mentions that the white man never really intended to teach the black man, but only for the purpose of the black man being able to understand and serve the whites.

Comment ( 1 )

  1. Anahis Garcia
    I completely agree with you this op-ed definitely sparked a lot of emotions up because it is truly outraging the reality that people of color have to deal with on a day to day basis. I agreed with Baldwin's stance that the whites should acknowledge "black language" as a language because it is the way they identify and feel as though they are a community. I like your use of evidence to portray what was truly trying to be said throughout the op-ed.

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