“Black English is the creation of the black diaspora. Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other’s language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world’s history, had been able to speak to each other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did. Subsequently, the slave was given, under the eye, and the gun, of his master, Congo Square, and the Bible—or in other words, and under these conditions, the slave began the formation of the black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed.This was not, merely, as in the European example, the adoption of a foreign tongue, but an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language: A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.”
—James Baldwin, If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?
“Pet names are a persistant remnant of childhood, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated. They are a reminder, too, that one is not all things to all people.”
—Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
Number one, author Jhumpa Lahiri is fine. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way …
I introduce myself to damn near everyone as “Jay Fingers.” It’s a college nickname that stuck, and it’s actually served to help me stand out in . While some people do ask if it’s my real name, most realize right away that it’s just a cute little sobriquet and are generally unperturbed by it. There is a small contingent of people, however, who will scoff upon hearing me addressed as “Fingers.” I’ll never forget the young woman who, after I’d be introduced to her by my nickname, sucked her teeth and said, “Well, if that’s what you want to be called.”
She was then immediately scolded by her friends. You see, I was promoting a party and actually hooking them up; they were afraid I would take the insult to heart and leave them standing outside the velvet rope. Luckily, I am not that thin-skinned.
I’ll be very, very honest: I’m not the biggest Wale fan. I mean, I dug a couple songs off his Mixtape About Nothing (which I can recognize is classic despite not really liking the whole project), and I certainly recognize the man’s talent. I just don’t feel him like that. Add to the fact that he linked with Rick Ross’s MMG camp and Wale continues to get the side-eye from me.
Having said that, a recent interview Wale did with The FADER has only made my respect for the man grow. Check out what he said about working with Lady Gaga, who, if you didn’t know, was featured on Wale’s first single “Chillin’.” It’s some real shit:
Niggas ain’t your friend. Lady Gaga ain’t my friend. We at the “Chillin’” video shoot talking like we friends, then we at the awards and she walked right past. She got seven, eight, nine number one records and the record we made never worked. “Why should I still care about Wale? His record sold 28,000.” But in the studio we was homies. That was my first lesson. Not that I thought I’d be taking fucking shots of Ciroc with Lady Gaga on a Friday night watching SVU, but put it this way: friendships fluctuate with how hot you are or how cold you are in the industry.
“Anyone can become a writer. The trick is staying a writer.”
—Harlan Ellison, Writer
“Writing is a fairly lonely business unless you invite people in to watch you do it, which is often distracting.”
—Marc Lawrence, Writer/Director