“Feed ‘em with a long handled spoon”
“You’ll get better before you get married”
“Dead cat on the line”
“Dry along so”
“All willy nilly”
“Like talkin’ about”
These are all sayings and phrases I’ve heard throughout my life. I didn’t learn them in English class. I didn’t learn them from reading classic literature, either. I learned this vernacular from my family, in the comfort of my own home.
To many, these phrases sound foreign or don’t make sense. They aren’t in Webster’s Dictionary, probably can’t be found in any public school textbook and weren’t written by Shakespeare, Mark Twain or Edgar Allen Poe. But, despite a lack of formal acknowledgement of this black vernacular by the status quo, I know what these sayings mean, can use them in a sentence and everything else. And I do so – proudly.
My parents were raised knowing this vernacular, and so were their parents, and so were my great grandparents – and so on and so forth. It’s part of my blood and therefore, it’s part of my history. My grandparents, great grandparents and other ancestors may not be honored in black history month specials on TV. Their lives may not be portrayed in schoolhouse plays, either. But regardless of any of that, it’s still part of my history. It still has value and valor.
In our daily lives, when we speak the words of the ones before us, we are remembering them. We are acknowledging the lives they led and the circumstances surrounding their language. Ultimately, we’re carrying on their legacy — not just in February, but each & every day.