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outlaw orthography

amanda.simone's picture

In the chapter we read this week, Meiners, referencing Audre Lorde and Alison Jaggar's work on outlaw emotions, wrote:

I also heed Lorde's warning that any display of anger will always be used against those that are marginalized. As Lorde writes, evocatively, in her essay, Uses of Anger: Everything can be used I except what is wasteful / (you will need/to remember this when you are accused of destruction). (Lorde, 1984, 127) 

This made me think about how vernacular and grammar, like those demonstrated in June Jordan's piece on Black English, are also used against those who are marginalized to disqualify important critiques. June Jordan's students recognized that by writing their letter on an issue of recent police brutality in Black English, they would not be taken seriously. I see this invalidation happening more and more on facebook and twitter (platforms that encourage non traditional grammars and vernaculars) when people either confront rascist, bigoted, and discriminatory content or bigoted people respond to content. As my friend and colleague Marty wrote in Silver Chips, our high school newspaper, a few years ago:

Early in Novemeber, when I tweeted about the protests against racism at the University of Missouri (also known as "Mizzou"), I wasn't surprised that some people disagreed with me. However, I was surprised when multiple adult, white strangers argued with me for hours over my use of the word "ain't." On twitter. ... I have seen countless people online try to get an important point across about racism or sexism but struggle with people who are caught up with exactly how they say it. Grammar should not be used as a weapon to oppress marginalized groups- it should be a tool we use to make ourselves understood. 
( Page B3)

Often anger and the language and grammar used to express that anger go hand in hand. I didn't really see Meiners giving any concrete ways to incorporate anger productively and pedagogically but I think Jordan made a convincing argument that Black English can have more value in public and pedagocial spaces.