Jahman Hill – “Slavery, Freedom, and Authority”

Jahman Hill – “Slavery, Freedom, and Authority”


Dear boy in my Slavery,
Freedom and Authority class who asked the following question: “How did slave masters
communicate with slaves if the slave masters
didn’t speak African?” The fuck? How does one speak African? No, no, no, you tell me,
because I’m black, and I don’t know. So when a white teacher looking back at me
and the only other black kid in our Slavery, Freedom
and Authority class, we’re looking back at her like, “No, go ahead, answer the question!” “No, I want to see
what you do with this one!” See, I ain’t never heard
nobody speakinh African. I heard the slaves and they masters
spoke that slave talk. It had an American dialect, and we never forgot the language. It was branded onto our bodies. The literature was cemented
in the scars on our backs. I heard a runaway body
looked just like poetry. You see the way they ingrain
[imit-t-t-til] into the alphabet. When a police officer pulls me over, I can hear the syntax in his step. When he says the word “boy,” it sounds like quotation marks. When he exercises his authority, I find myself sitting in slang, waiting for this grammar policeman
to sentence me to a period or leave me in fragments, accents accentuating the sidewalk when this subject
has always been seen as object. The predicate for police
is premeditated murder. There has never, there has never, there has never been
a perfect past tense when my people have always been
disintegrated into participles, like going, going, gone. See, this black skin
been speaking American since our skeletons
touched these shores, and there ain’t no way a slave master
could have spoke African. They ain’t even read the Middle Passage. (cheers and applause)

21 thoughts on “Jahman Hill – “Slavery, Freedom, and Authority”

  1. This is pure poetry it's like been entertained and educated at the same time. I'm also spoken word artist and I'll like y'all to watch my videos and tell me what you think about it..your honest criticism will be appreciated.

  2. I have boxes of writings stuffed in my cage that no one has ever read and seeing Button Poetry videos has inspired me to share them. They are on my YouTube channel. Check them out. Thank you 🌸

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