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BLACK AMERICAN STYLES

by Dr. Joseph A. Bailey II, MD., FACS on 22nd-March-2017

Europeans daily advertised “knot-hole-through-a-fence” view of today’s Black American "Style" is a basketball “slam dunk.” But mental Genius styles are the reality, many forming from African American slavery’s fragmentation of the Enslaved. Very roughly, Type I–“Elite” were valets for the White slave owner and the “Big House” Mulattos. Most of their Styles were imitating and/or catering to Euro-Americans social ladder counterparts. They later embraced White people’s baseless contempt for Black People—and gradually changed from representing Black Americans to “Oreos,” using various Styles in serving as  the White man’s representative to damage Black People. Type II–Omnibus Black Americans are Mixtures of multiple cultures and with hybrid Styles. Type III–Mainstream Black Americans following African Traditions and their styles have been judged upon their degree of presentations regarding Traditions of Africa and African American culture. Type IV–Enslaved Mind Black Americans remain burdened with Slave Survivals (maintaining Styles for forgotten reasons) which worked for the Enslaved but are now self-defeating. Type V the Criminals model European styles, like Al Capone’s gang wars and drive-by shootings. Type VI are Ambitious Isolated Individualists whose style is primarily Self-Reliance, Assertive, Creative, and self-enhancing within frames of doing right and decent things. They travel alone towards their goals, for that enables them to move faster by avoiding Crowd hindrances. This imparts great struggles in solving problems and leads to Self-Efficacy—i.e. knowing ones skills match challenges one has not seen nor heard of before; Courage not have to go to Supernatural people for help or  approval; and by-pass Crowd support. Still, there were/are various Black Styles for Acceptable Disrespect, Sounding, Signifying, Respect, Trash Talking, and the Dozens—each done as an Artful Lifestyle. For Types IV and V, Rap gave/gives information and talks about society and Black History. It recovers and revises elements of Black rhetorical style, some from Black Preachers. As Tupac Shakur said: “Before you can understand what I mean, you have to know how I lived or how the people I’m talking to live.” Present in Types III, but particularly in Types IV and V is Slang—i.e. Abstractions like Metaphors. Members of these Black American groups are on various rungs of the Social Ladder, each in cross-cultural or subcultural Black communities. 

Thus, they are far, far from being a homogeneous group and no “across the board” style applies to any group. In African Tradition, the people’s Style is to discover, internalize, and stay within the Spiritual Elements. Its  disruption, starting during African American slavery, caused a collage of kaleidoscopic stylistic mindsets radiation in every conceivable direction—and many are discussed in my book: Word Stories Surrounding African American Slavery. For example, most traditional African customs, vocabulary, and idioms were brought on board Middle Passage slave ships by Enslaved Africans and their vestiges resurfaced all over the New World. On plantations, Americanized further developments and flavors were given to African practices, songs, and musical styles. Examples included African folk tales emerging as Brer Rabbit. African allegory stories evolved into Negro Spirituals. The Negro Church fashioned its moods and styles on African Affect Symbolic Imagery  speech plus expressed in “Call and Response” type patterns. Emerging from Africans’ language facilities was Colloquial speech–a form of language used by the Enslaved–most talking together between formal speech and slang. 

Negro church music has always influenced Whites’ music. Particularly prominent then, and throughout African American history, is the powerful influences Black Styles have had on White culture. For example, Charles Dickens said: “All the women who have been bred in slave States speak more or less like Negroes, from having been constantly in their childhood with black nurses.” Another White wrote: “It was inevitable that the Negro mammy should flavor the speech of the white children she brought up and the house slave that of his young master.” A third White blamed the “bad grammare” of Negroes as well as those of Southern Whites, “even in the loftiest circles,” on this same association. But in typical White people’s fashion of failing to see the part they play in causing and participating as leaders in problems, the only way the Enslaved could have learned “Bad English” was from White people. Still, all Black People’s style is copied. jabaileymd.com;JABLifeSkills; Theievoice.com

Category: Dr. Joseph A. Bailey II, MD., FACS.
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