The Case for Black English

One of my favorite sounds in the world is the voice of the late comedian Bernie Mac. I often think of an early performance of his, on the nineties standup showcase “Def Comedy Jam.” The routine, slightly less than six minutes long, is songlike in structure—after each cluster of two or three jokes, Mac yells “Kick it!” and a snippet of cheesy, drum-heavy hip-hop plays. Between these punctuations, he affects poses that would fit as comfortably within a twelve-bar blues as they do on the dimly lit Def Jam stage: sexual bravado, profane delight, sly self-deprecation, dismay and gathering confusion at a rapidly changing world. “I ain’t come here for no foolishness,” he says toward the beginning of the set, his double negative signalling playfulness and threat in equal measure. “You don’t understand,” he says again and again, sometimes stretching “understand” into four or five syllables. Then, with swift, hilarious anger, like Jackie Gleason’s: “I ain’t scared of you motherfuckers.” The “r” in “scared” is barely audible, and the subsequent profanity is a fluid, tossed-off “muhfuckas.”

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Source: newyorker (MALE SLIKE)
The Case for Black English