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Shvoong Home>Books>BLACK JARGON IN WHITE AMERICA Review

BLACK JARGON IN WHITE AMERICA

Book Review   by:CatherineGallagher     Original Author: David Claerbaut
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This book, published in 1972, is an interesting exercise in attempting to understand another culture. The author went through a hideous experience as a Junior High School teacher -- Civics with some standard English. He was teaching in a predominantly black inner city area. He did not understand his students, and while they understood HIM fairly well, they had little or no respect for him, and used their understanding to make his life (for the most part) a living hell. He had a black friend on the faculty, however, who taught him some of what he needed to know, and a few kids who were kind enough to do the same for him. One of the things he needed to do was to learn the language of the black ghetto. He did, and he tries to teach it here in this book. Much of the black language has gone mainstream in the last 35 years, but that''s inevitable in America. We are one people, whether we want to admit it or not -- and most of us watch Saturday Night Live, now and then or religiously, and listen to rap and hip-hop and blues music (or its faster version, rock and roll), where these words and others like them express feelings, perceptions, and understandings that make them common currency linguistically before long. So many of the terms are familiar to nearly everyone. But if you wish to know how white liberals think, in their beautifully well-intentioned way, this is an excellent book to pick up and read. The vocabulary in the back is exciting and interesting (though some is outdated, or means differently in one place than another).I liked it, although it made me feel a little race-conscious for a while. You get over it, and on the whole, it''s well worth reading.
Published: September 07, 2007   
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