Someone gave me that: oh you speak so well for a black man speech.
It was the feeling of embarrassment that I first had to deal with. After that, I wanted to channel Jeezy and reply “miss me with that rap shit”. My actual reply was one of stereotypes based on speech patterns as being a lazy ass observation that is a result of the listener being an outsider. Don’t limit me with the you speak so well, its more to it than running phrases back to back without pause. Its calculated thought. Its looking to discuss topics of lasting value without being pretentious.
Stepping away from that interaction, yes I’m known to use a healthy range of words, but I developed this condition by way of hours of endless reading and writing. Don’t ever get it twisted, my day time persona is a result of the NEED to assimilate. Ive met some good people exercising my knowledge in exchange for cash and we have become actual friends. In my free time I’m sitting in the sun getting as BLACK as I want.
Language is only part of I am and I don’t ever feel like what I say or how I say it makes me better than any other black man. I admire the intelligence and moxie of Marshawn Lynch with the same affinity I have for those traits in Dr. Cornell West. To base assumptions on overall intellect or integrity on speech is missing the mark on the fact that speech is about what you are exposed to. That also applies to comprehension of the listener as well. Every group of people has forms of laxed colloquial communication. Why is it that black people are singled out for speaking “Ebonics”. Better yet why is it assumed by non-blacks that colloquial speech is all encompassing, as if a person from Oakland speaks the same as someone in Atlanta. How much slang one uses is in no way a compass that can be used for gauging character. But since perceptions of black men has everything to do with how one postures himself and easy way to keep ignorance at bay is to be able to have your words and diction do some very low level disarming of observers. This plays into what the generation before us to do work three times as hard. Doing that work gives me constant anxiety. No one told me that was also part of the arrangement.
Lets take a break and let Nas explain the nuances of the thoughts I’m liable to feel in my day to day as a Black man trying to blend his talents,(and only talents) into the corporate space without sacrificing my senses of dignity and decency:
By the way I hate this song for naming names.
I’ve from time to time tried to gauge another’s blackness as if I had a metric to do so. On the flip side of that I am ever aware of the fact that my ambitions can take me to a place where my own blackness is questioned. I suppose the fear is the love I have for people who look like me being rejected and having no community to fit into. A definite phobia is getting into a relationship with someone who isn’t black and in that, becoming a caricature of someone who is trying to run away from his blackness by turning his own household into a melting pot. I don’t think that is actually even possible.
Its that time again Home Slices. Another year has come only to stay in our world for 12 months before deciding that none of us were cool enough for it to stick around to give an encore performance. Well then, if you feel like I do about 2016 can ease on down the road. If you’re anything like me you won’t be placing a late night call trying to get 2016 back. You now that when your time with a year is over their is no going back. In my case celebrating the end to my relationship with this year will be done with me popping the finest bottom shelf bubbly Target. (If intoxication comes before nausea I expect 2017 will be ready to call for our first nightcap by 5AM.)
In saying goodbye to this year. Here is a countdown with the top 10 songs that’s made 2016’s long work days bearable. The song titles and excerpts you are about to witness gave me the edge that I could never find in the bottom of watered down workplace coffee. See if any of these tunes made the list of compositions that kept your urge to go postal on no one other than yourself and your workstation at bay.
10. Erykah Badu “Hello” album But You Cant Use My Phone. Feel that smooth serenade of Ron Isley and his Bros offering a drifting yet blissful journey through lyrical ecstasy, now flip it ever so softly onto its head as a rendition performed by the duet Queen Erykah “Fat Belly Bella” Badu and Andre “3000” Benjamin. Their closing back and forth of “don’t change, don’t change squirrel”, made me smile softly to myself and hope for a mate silly enough to be willing to go back and forth playfully with me. I didn’t find such a lady in my world but that’s another topic.
9. Billie Black “Black and White”album 000 100. I’m a sucker for bass heavy instrumentals paired with slow seductive vocals. If Sade was to somehow be a new artist in 2016 I guarantee her sound would mirror Billie Blacks. I further Suspect that there would be no Billie Black without Sade. “I see you lost in a riddle, when you gonna break it up” and the hook “Do you ever feel the world is looking through you; like your just a reflection in anothers eyes looking at the world in Black & White. Do you ever feel the moment slipping through you; living day to day but only getting by looking at the world in black and white”. Great music for pushing through the creation of a spreadsheet that no one one will read or analyze with the an insightful vigour that pays respect to the man hours and attention detail that it took to make said spreadsheet.(Curse you Microsoft…and curse you Carpal Tunnel syndrome.)
8. Oddisee “Strength and Weakness” album Alawasta. I discovered Oddisee in 2016 because I created a Little Brother radio station on preferred streaming radio account (Google Play hopefully the namedrop gets me a few hits…I’ve been paying for your service a long time Google pay me back in your search algorithm or I’m switching my default browser to Firefox and asking Jeeves).I ignored the suggestion to check out his work for a year mainly because acts that get tied to Little Brother fail to bring the quality of music of Phonte, Pooh, and 9th. In this case I was very wrong to ignore this guy. The song being discussed opens over a jamming arrangement of sound. In the first line he sets the tone for the dreaming version of Jamison that finds himself as a lower mid level employee trapped behind a punch clock. The opening bar “I fell asleep with open eyes again. Seeing me how others see me on my mind again. I hope I don’t find offense with people’s versions of what I present.” My take away is the songs meaning being one where the singer follows his own dreams while working hard not to be mean spirited toward naysayers who are still trying to figure their place in the world out. Whether I am the focused Jamison who is trying to climb a corporate ladders greased rungs, or I am the Jamison who writes this exhausted as after a hard day’s work hoping to find a fan; the humbling call to action this song inspires with me doesn’t change.
What made your 10-8? What music kept you pushing? What should I hear next? Comment below.