Counterlanguage powermoves in African American women’s language practice
Keywords:African American, counterlanguage, intersectionality, gender, racism, sexuality, speech community
This essay considers some of the insight we have gathered about language, feminism, racism and power. In many respects, it celebrates the linguistic power of the many theories about how Black women navigate intersectionality where racism and sexism intermingle, suggesting that our analyses should always recognise that a lethal combination of factors are in play. Black women, in particular, actively insist on forms of language and discourse that both represent and create their world through words, expressions and verbal routines that are created within and outside of the African American speech community to confront injustice. One example involves the verb ‘play,’ which I argue often functions as a power statement or ‘powermove’ that demands respect while presenting a threat to the status quo. This use of ‘play’ is the opposite of inconsequential games of play or joking.
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