“Y’all Got Some Chips?”: Why I Refuse to “Talk Like A College Man” and a Message to Black College Students/Grads

Talented tenth ideology, the idea that the destiny of the New Afrikan nation is tied up in the hands of Black people who are attending universities and colleges and bound for petit-bourgeois positions, still permeates our people. This term was created by Northern white philanthropists who had no real interest in the self-determination and liberation of our people, but wanted to create and expand a comprador class tied to white supremacist capital. Were I alive in the early 20th century, I’d undoubtedly be considered part of this “Talented Tenth”. Yet, I reject it and the petit-bourgeois aspirations that go along with it. I am the descendant of Black peasants, sharecroppers, from Mississippi and Texas, and slaves. My people, the proletariat which was imported and forced to build this country on land wrested by force from the indigenous (from whom I am also partially descended) were the foundational rock on which this country was built, and we have been consistently locked out of the fruit of our labor, criminalized, lumpenized, and shunted from here to there with no relief whatsoever. Without the labor of my people, this country would not be the richest in human history. The liberation of my people will only come through unity in a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist political party and the making of revolution. We built it, and we are who will destroy it.

To my illustration. I visited the Qdoba on my university’s campus today. Some background — the janitors, food service personnel, etc. on my campus are almost entirely Black. I’ve built up a steady rapport with most of them since freshman year, discussing politics and other issues of importance. I’ve written articles for my university’s paper, about Black Lives Matter, the state of the Black nation in the US, and also a defense of the Cuban Revolution. These articles, written by a black undergraduate student in colloquial language, have aroused interest, debate and discussion in contrast to the foolish tripe about how bad the campus food is (why not cook for yourself?) and sports. Going through the line to get my food, I asked the cashier, an older black woman, if “y’all got chips”. This is called “code-switching”, and is done unconsciously. This is familiar to Latino comrades, who grow up bilingual. When I’m among white people, I don’t say “y’all got”, I say “do you guys have”. When I’m among my people, I say “y’all got”, “we finna”, and similar African derived terms that were adapted to the English language. I was corrected. “You’re a college man, you say ‘do you all have.’” Since we are raised to respect our elders and Communists respect the masses, I didn’t argue, and accepted her correction. But this set me to thinking about how petit-bourgeois aspirations have trickled down to the working class. Even though I reject talented tenthism and the ideology of an educated elite of black people pulling the rest of our race up with us, older, working class black people are usually conservative, or politically intermediate. The “pull your pants” up movement comes from this segment of society. Of course, I don’t sag because it’s uncomfortable as hell. I was corrected because my use of “y’all” was seen as inappropriate for my status as a university student, particularly a black one. I was “embarrassing our people in front of the white folks”. This shows how the politically intermediate have to be related to and respected. If I had launched into an argument like many would have, I’d have lost my rapport. When engaging in something as simple as a discussion, we have to be aware of how we are perceived and how we are understood. My grandmother, who only has an 8th grade education (she was forced to drop out to pick cotton) has corrected my language. “All this education you got, you still can’t talk right?” Of course, I can “talk right”, I scored a 32 on the English section of the ACT, but I recognize that Europeans have sought to take away our culture and linguistic heritage and it is my job as a Black Maoist to preserve our people’s language and culture because this is in our interests. If I start speaking like some petit-bourgeois fop I would be abdicating my duty to fight for my people’s self determination.

To Black college students: Most of you, like myself, are the first in your family to attend university. The aspirations of countless generations are on your backs and like my own family, you’ve probably heard countless admonitions as to your style of dress, speech, and career path. If you are a Communist, and you should be, you must keep in mind that while our elders are to be respected, we must also combat, gently, the petit-bourgeois talented-tenth style rhetoric that we oftentimes hear. It is tempting to go through the typical motions, pledge a fraternity or sorority, keep our contact with the lowest and deepest masses to our Greek organizations’ “service projects”, church volunteer work, and other things, and make money for ourselves. This is wrong. I seek to become an attorney because I want to follow in the path of Lenin, Castro, and Mandela, who used their legal training to help their people and the world. Our duty is to our class and our nation first and foremost. We are the children of the working class, the lumpen, slaves and peasants. Never forget this. Our duty is not only to ourselves and our families, but to black people all over the world, the Caribbean and back on the Continent included. I was raised by working class and lumpenproletarian people. Going on to become a corporate lawyer, a businessman, and follow Jay-Z and Beyonce’s black bourgeois rhetoric and mindset, wanting to be a “Black Bill Gates” is not in the interests of our people in the long run. Of course, this isn’t to say that being financially secure and not suffering is a bad thing, but whatever resources we obtain through our positions and educations (not much, a white high school graduate oftentimes makes more than a Black person with a B.A. or higher degree) must be put at the full disposal of our people. Struggle against the sugar coated bullets that will be offered you. I don’t want to work for the Urban League, get a big time position, or make 250,000 a year. I may just forsake law school altogether and go teach at an inner city school, living in the neighborhood where I teach and organizing my people. Who cares if I only make $25,000, I’m a Maoist, I don’t give a damn.

I ask again: “Y’all got some chips?”

Black Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. STL based. Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/blackredguard