have you ever watched someone make your loved ones feel small in english? do your parents ever ask you to look over their emails or letters because they want to speak like the amreekis? yes our parents leave the -ing off of the end of certain words, yes some words make them stutter, make their mouths twist uncomfortably, they repeat words over and over again until they can form them right. i want to kill the english in me, i want to rip my tongue out of my mouth. english makes me feel cold, it is a language that is dead to me. it is the language the colonizers spoke, it is the language they taught our children in when they set up their schools.
don’t you dare correct my english, do not correct the english of those i love. do not pretend our dark skin gets in the way of your ability to construct meaning.
listen- i can name all the parts of a flower outside of your cold scientific terminology. i can tell you a hundred different ways to love someone using a hundred different words. i can tell you about the land and the sun and the soil. your english is a bitter thing, it gets stuck in my throat, it gets in the way of everything i want to say. how do you say love besides love? how have you boiled love down to a single four letter, one syllable word?
english is economical, perhaps. it is sufficient, it is just good enough. the language of the world, the language of trade and capital. but what language do we speak in? those of us who carry the world economy on our backs? those of us who are dark and migrant and foreign and poor? who pave roads and build stadiums and watch your children?
what language do we bleed in, what language do we slave in, do we work in, do we die in? we do not speak english, we do not think english. we do not dream in your english, we do not dream in your dollars.
there is a word for the moon at midnight, there is a word for a woman in her second term of pregnancy, there is a word for a woman 40 days after birth. there is a word for the dead, for the living, for the sick. there is a word for fresh milk, for old milk, for a cow with heavy teats, for a cow without a calf. your english barely scratches the surface, but our words, our words can break the world open.