Language is an institution. Mastery of a particular piece of it, either grants or denies access. Language holds systematic power. The closer one stays to the language of the ruling class, the more access one is granted. The further away one moves, the more one is denied access to a specific piece of society.
The hood thrives off of conceptual conversations, long windedness, explaining ideas. For years, I struggled keeping up because I am conceptual learner. I am long winded. I need to understand the idea before I'll ever remember the word for it.
The ruling class is based on concise. Short phrases. One word for a huge idea. Language blocks folk who can do the work from even knowing they can do the work because of the mastery of a specific language.
The hood and the ivory tower say the exact same thing. Just that the ivory tower is validated because it speaks according to the ruling class' ideals. When, arguably, the hood is better at explaining things conceptually. The ivory tower develops one word that means an entire idea then shuts the folk out who don't master the one word. Even if that idea was appropriated from those very people.
The ideals of the ruling class have shifted our thinking into validating short phrases and folk who can explain things in a concise way. Concise is ruling class. Long windedness and full explanations are shamed. Words like oppression, hegemony, privilege, micro aggressions, etc are all experienced day in and out in the very environments that are shut out of these conversations because they don't use those words.
APA format is a ruling class ideal. It is mastered within the walls of the ivory tower. The Ivory Tower has monetized the everyday lexicon of 'regular folk' and sold it to those who can afford it and shut out those who created it.
Aint that some shit.
So often, the people excluded from conversations are those who don't speak academic language, or a particular type of English. However, the other day, I witnessed the most magical thing.
There was an older man in Core Workshop. Around 55 or 60. Black. Salt and pepper hair. Rich Chocolate skin. Named Lucas. He is one of our pest control employees who...controls pests.
He was interesting. He reminded me of a grandpa mixed with an uncle. He pressed me for my activist credentials. I think he initially read me solely as a high-falutin academic who spends all her time around white folk in elite institutions and has either lost or never had regular degular street experience.
Let me tell you how difficult you Blacks are!
So once I passed his series of tests ending in "Lucas. You can't train or workshop people to Equity. And I say that as Lead Trainer who spends a lot of time training people".
So over the course of the workshop, something is happening that I didn't realize was happening. Most white folk and many of the POC are slowly becoming excluded from the convo. All because of how Lucas, myself, and like 10 other participants are framing concepts. Lucas has an astute analysis, and Lucas speaks in what I call "pimp riddles". The only people I know who speak in what I've termed "pimp riddles" are Black people. Not POC. Black people. The main Black people who speak in "pimp riddles" are older Black people. Mostly men. With Southern roots. And the younger ones who do, have old souls. If, upon reading the phrase "pimp riddles", you don't immediately have an idea of what it is...I can't explain no further than that.
So any way, the convo is great IMO but I didn't realize what made it so great was that we were framing things and speaking in ways that are seldom included in theoretical conversations.
We got to spend a lot of time talking about equity, and racism, and ANTI Blackness like your uncle and cousins and grandma talk about it. Long winded vs concise. Conceptually vs singular words/quick phrases. Qualitatively vs quantitatively. Experientially vs theoretically.
What a lovely day that was!!
It was quite an interesting spin on "accessible language". For once, accessible meant that Black folk understood it.
Seldom do I hear folk speak of this publicly. But it AIN'T EASY outchea for trans/gender queer/gender nonconforming folk and dating. And it focuses primarily on our bodies and when those bodies don't conform to gender. When boobs meet beard meet chiseled bodies meet vagina meet hairy chests/belly, folk struggle. When boobs meet penis meets the Apple of Adam, folk are in a frenzy.
HOWZENEVA, we are cute and intriguing as da phuk because gender phukery is intriguing...but none of that seems to impact years of gender socialization. Years of rigid binaries. Straight women find themselves attracted to transmasculine folk but don't know WTF to do with it because they don't know how it will impact their own sexuality. We're too much this. Not enough that.
MANY cis-men are attracted to transwomen. Ask Eddie Murphy, Mister Cee, Teddy P, and Tevin Campbell. We are both repulsive and intriguing. And the result is a vomiting of all this angst onto the bodies of trans and GNC people. Resulting in many folk feeling undesirable. When really they are VERY desired but others are unable to box their desires of us.
This isn't a pity party. This is reality. Dating someone whose very existence flips a construct so rigid as gender on its head takes a special someone to walk in and with that. Affirmingly. Not I can deal with it, but I AFFIRM AND LOVE IT! It is sexy to me. Flip side, I get it. I understand how something as deep and ingrained as this can be difficult. Ideally folk would allow themselves the freedom to like who they like. But...
Zerandrian S. Morris
I am a social and cultural critic.