In the article ” If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me What Is?”, Baldwin uses emotion and logic to relate to his audience. He states that a language can evolve and it all starts with one common language.
He argues that Black English is in fact English just different version of standard English. Having been born during the time where African Americans weren’t always accepted, Baldwin uses personal experiences to support his claims.Baldwin grew up and witnessed racism in his hometown of Harlem, and later on became an advocate for the civil rights movement. It makes sense as to why Baldwin is so passionate to prove how important Black English is and why it should be respected. He uses his personal experiences and examples, to prove his claims and as to why it should not be discredited. He uses the language of French as an example. He states that “people evolve a language in order to control to describe and thus control their circumstances…” (Baldwin 794).
In regions of Paris, Marseilles , Quebec, Guadeloupe and Martinique all share a common language of French. Baldwin uses the example to explain that even though if people from these regions were to travel and to hear the different dialects of French, they wouldn’t be able to understand it but they will still consider it French. Baldwin raises the question why isn’t Black English treated the same way?To capture his audiences emotions, Baldwin touches on the history of slavery. “Blacks came to the United States chained to each other but from different tribes. Neither could speak the others language.” (Baldwin 795). With the conditions of slavery and people coming from different backgrounds, who also spoke different languages, Baldwin explains they came and created their own variation of English, to communicate with one another.
Black English connected the African Americans during their toughest time. It was used often to keep African American after danger. For example he tells a personal story that “his family had to convey to me , for example, the danger in which I was standing from the white man could not possibly understand …” (Baldwin 796). This proves that they needed to use Black English in order to stay safe.The article itself make some Americans feel uncomfortable, because of the choice of words, and how harsh his tone is, but Baldwin is shedding light on an issue that needs to be addressed. Thus having this article published in the New York Times. He expresses his feelings that White Americans would not “sound the way they sound” without Black English.
He claims that White Americans “purified” words such as “Jazz me, baby, let it all hang out, right on,and funky. The way the Americans “purified” the words is a way to convey the control that they had over African Americans.