Sam, firstly, thank you so much for reading. and secondly, man this is such a good ass question. you know, the thing i find so funny about slang being treated as something not worthy of text by those that dictate such things is, they act as if Shakespeare didn’t write and speak in the voice and tone of the same audience he wanted to fill the rows of the spaces the actors who played with his words carried so beautifully. “cuckolds” and things of that regard. and i feel like, our language, my language, the language i grew up around, is just as poetical and influential. and we (not you, or i, i don’t believe) love to treat those who use street vernacular as those who can’t hold court in other areas of life. i feel like my language, this language, OUR language, speaks to the ghosts of Biggie Smalls and Big Pun and Big L. i use the slang to prove a point: that language can be maniupulated, bent, shaped and directed however we so choose; and that angst towards ones choice of language says a lot more about the reader, than the writer itself.
i want my neighborhood to be featured in the NYT in the way that i saw it, and still see it as a grown adult, because when i say it’s “brick” outside, i mean that it’s cold, and that “mad” prefacing any other word just intensifies it’s meaning tenfold, like “mad love” or “mad dollars” or “mad layers of living that surely lies in the prose”; because i believe the same fear that those may have with the colloquial manner in which i phrase my stories, are the same lot who may be scared if i stand near them in an empty elevator, or if they see “Jameel” instead of “Jake” on a resumé. i pray and hope the language is jarring, and that it moves them in the same way my mother’s accent perks up around West Indian’s, does. i like lower case, i love using the hood i was raised in as a symbol for something bigger than me. because it always has been. because my language is what saved me, you know? it kept me safe, so for me, it’s sacred. because language is language, right? and language is the barometer in which i weigh the merit of the convictions i hold dearest: peace, love and light.
thank you for inspiring this, Sam.