Focus on African American Language
Smitherman, Geneva. Word from the Mother: Language and African Americans
York: Routledge, 2006.
In his “shout outs” in Roc the Mic Right
, H. Samy Alim gives “major props and thanks to the one and only Docta G. Geneva Smitherman” and adds, “keep doin your work on Black Language, Education, and Social Change.
We need a word from the mother” (xiii).
That is precisely what Smitherman provides—in Word from the Mother
, Smitherman assumes a maternal stance toward AAL, a passion for keeping AAL alive, determination to ensure that it is respected and honored, pride towards those who use AAL, and anger for those who denigrate it.
For Smitherman, AAL is more than a language; as is true of all languages, AAL represents “a people's identity, culture, and history . . . language is power" (145).
She is thus justifiably angry when, as she explains it, “Yet, still today, in the twenty-first century, after more than four decades—count’em, foe decades
!—of research by language scholars, it’s some people who say Black Language ain nothin but ‘slang and cuss words,’ or ‘it’s just broken English.’ Not to mention those who be sayin ain no such thang as Black Language