Michelle Ortiz James Baldwin Reading Post
In “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?”, James Baldwin discusses the importance of language. He discusses that every person has a common language in which they articulate. Through these variety of languages, people express different realities and experiences they must go through. He shows this by writing “Frenchman living in Paris speaks a subtly and crucially different language than from that of a man living in Marseilles; neither sounds very much like a man living in Quebec; and they would all have great difficulty in comprehending what a man from Guadeloupe, or Martinique is saying . . .”(Baldwin 1). Baldwin also mentions that people must accept other’s achievements and identity which can be done by accepting one’s language including black language. Your language says a lot about the type of person of who you are. He mentions how we, as humans, must not penalize people of color for creating their own language the shows the reality and struggles they have endures throughout history. “Black English is the creation of the black diaspora” (Baldwin 3). Black English represents black history and their struggles they have faced ever since they came to the United States chained to each other. Lastly, Baldwin mention how “. . .white people in America never had any interest in education black people, except as this could serve white purposes . . . A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled”(Baldwin 3). This is very important because white people that despise people of color refuse to truly teach people of color, to help them become the best person they can be just because these type of people do not see the potential of a black child and that is something these children cannot afford.
James Baldwin, a brilliant writer, states “He cannot afford to understand it. This understanding would reveal to him too much about himself, and smash that mirror before which he has been frozen too long”(Baldwin 3). I found this very interesting and in fact, true. By saying this Baldwin is implying that white people refuse to understand black language for a reason. This reason is because white people were the ones that caused this language to form. They forced people of color to struggle, to lose their native languages and adapt to horrific, unsafe environment they must and continue to experience. White people cannot afford to neither accept nor understand black language because it will force them to accept and view who they really are as a person. It will allow them to understand their history as well; the history of plundering and denigrating the black body and that is something they refuse to accept. However, I believe the past will catch up with these racist, white people and sooner or later they will have to accept not only black language but the reality of their own history.