Analysis Of If Black Isn T A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is By James Baldwin

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Novelist and poet, James Baldwin, expresses himself on a hearty topic in his essay, “If Black Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” Through carefully-structured wording and literary devices such as allusion, James Baldwin depicts the intricacy of languages and the significance of the black language in America. Written in 1979, Baldwin enlightens the readers on the desperate need for man to be able to vocalize his thoughts through language, the importance of a specific language in America, and how it came to be. Baldwin sheds much light on a topic that many people in America live, yet have possibly never even thought about.

Baldwin starts out his second paragraph by informing readers on why people feel the need to create and evolve their
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He states that without blacks in America, whites would sound very different. Recalling the Jazz Age, Baldwin confronts an issue in which blacks would create slang terms and “let it all hang out”, only to have this all “purified” by white authors until it eventually formed the Beat Generation. Baldwin goes on to acknowledge the Beat Generation as mostly “uptight, middle class white people, imitating poverty…” He writes this with a condescending tone, most likely due to the fact that black people were already poor, already “beat”, already “funky”, which whites were so desperately trying to be. And he makes the distinction between this and black English very clear in the next …show more content…
Shattering the argument that one who speaks this is “inarticulate”, he combats this with the notion that blacks are not guilty of defending some faulty form of morality. Meaning that this wide subculture has allowed them to articulate themselves even more as a people, instead of the opposite. He then goes on to explain the growth of this language and enters into a quite complex explanation of how it affects black youth. Baldwin states that the black child, at this time, is despised for their experience, the same experience that emits their language. If this child is taught by someone who despises their experience, they will be forced to disassociate themselves with it. Thus, entering into a “limbo” where they have given up their social identity as “black” but also coming to terms with the realization that they will never be white. He finishes this off with a final paragraph telling his reasoning for why he lives in a country that ponders why so many colored people are impoverished, incarcerated, etc. He explains that maybe blacks are not in the business of learning from a country which has refused to learn their own most detrimental traits, whilst pointing their hypocritical fingers at the ones whom they continued to keep down for so

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