Jump to content
raincan

Code-switching

Recommended Posts

I've been hearing things through the grapevine about a code-switching critique. From what I can understand, it's using a combination of black vernacular and standard English to make the activity more appealing to minorities. Can anyone explain it a bit more or find a file on it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While i dont have a file for this, i believe the argument states that, in status quo debate, it is structures around sounding smart by using fancy sounding words like "epistemology, ontology, etc." and that it disadvantageous to minorities because they are forced to assimilate and uphold the cultural norms. They are forced to "switch codes" in order to fit in with the culture produced in this scholarly space and that is bad

Edited by MCat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure how this could function as a K. It's the judges who would be the ones with the bias in favor of fancy words, and so there's no link to the other team's actions. Also, how would the alternative manage to solve? Biases are sticky, they won't go away just by mentioning them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have yet to see it as a k, but a team in my state runs this as their aff.

its more of a kritik of the way debate is structured and that they shouldnt have to code switch to be competitive in the system

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have yet to see it as a k, but a team in my state runs this as their aff.

its more of a kritik of the way debate is structured and that they shouldnt have to code switch to be competitive in the system

This really isn't  a great aff.  Like, if we use "their" language, we'll just be excluding other people who don't know the new language.  There's literally no solvency.  Run "language of power" good as a net-benefit to this and its a fairly easy neg ballot.

 

Schmitt would also tear this apart. Attempting to universalise language of debate so it works for everybody probably excludes language not deemed acceptable by the aff a lot more violently than we exclude their language.

Edited by feldsy
  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a lot of this still misses the point that code-switching isn't just in language, but in the literal appearance, tone, diction, and actions of a person (at least as it relates to blackness studies). Google search "Kanye West "white voice"" to get a good idea of what the actual application of this is. The criticism is more on the fact that black people cannot become accepted or successful in civil society unless they code switch and the codes in switch they attempt to switch to are definitively "white". Furthermore, it is a unique symptom of whiteness to be able to code switch (we can "act ghetto" and then act professional ie "white) which is both only possible due to privilege, a form of blackface, and also necessarily excludes blacks/other non-whites because they aren't able to abandon their actual visual race, the aspects of their identity that exist beyond the realm of "codes".

 

This is my understanding tho, there might be someone else who knows more and can fix any preconceived notions I have.

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This:
 

I think a lot of this still misses the point that code-switching isn't just in language, but in the literal appearance, tone, diction, and actions of a person (at least as it relates to blackness studies). Google search "Kanye West "white voice"" to get a good idea of what the actual application of this is. The criticism is more on the fact that black people cannot become accepted or successful in civil society unless they code switch and the codes in switch they attempt to switch to are definitively "white".


Contradicts this:

 

Furthermore, it is a unique symptom of whiteness to be able to code switch (we can "act ghetto" and then act professional ie "white) which is both only possible due to privilege, a form of blackface, and also necessarily excludes blacks/other non-whites because they aren't able to abandon their actual visual race, the aspects of their identity that exist beyond the realm of "codes".

 

Obviously code switching doesn't exclude black people if black people are code switching. You crazy.

  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) I think calling me "you crazy" is an unnecessary insult.

2) You should google search the term "whiteness"

3) You are conflating a literal ability to do something with the possibility to do something without sacrificing identity/key aspects of personal experience and social location, which are a key distinction being made here. This is functionally saying answering Wilderson and Social Death arguments with stuff like "obviously they are not dead if they can breathe." Black people may be able to code-switch out of some aspects, but that doesn't address the underlying violence in the fact that code-switching is sometimes the only viable choice of survival in white society for not just blacks but often times brown bodies (including both latino and middle eastern), especially considering that the coded aspects of blackness (linguistically and socially) are able to be adopted by white counterparts free of charge and without harm because white people can simply switch out while black folk may be able to abandon the culturally coded aspects of blackness, they are still "slaves to their physical appearance" (as Fanon put it), meaning they are still marked black by a society that devalues those aspects of blackness that aren't minstrelized.

 

To reiterate, white people can jokingly call each other "n-----s" all they want, but at the end of the day the black body is still a nigger no matter how white they act (I really hate to use that word, but the strict academic context and necessary desire to convey the extremity of the situation marginally justifies this one instance). This logic of code-switching requires the nonwhite body to abandon it's identity, social location, and lived experience, however due to their visually overriding marking of color, they will never be able to fully abandon said notions, as only the nonvisually marked body (ie the white body) can do so. Thus there is a disconnect between the process and the attempt; black folk can attempt to assimilate through code-switching but in actuality it's a futile process that generates more ontological violence to a body that has already been the victim of immense amounts of that violence (middle passage and white subjecitivity whatnot). The difference is between being able to and being able to afford to.

 

I could probably go on for a variety of reasons, but that's mostly my interpretation of the argument which may or may not necessarily be reflective of how other scholars/debaters articulate it. I think the language of my original post was pretty clear in making the said distinction above.

 

Here's a wall of text from one of John Cook's files in a facebook convo that I saw go down which explains code-switching a little bit more

 

 

Here’s a discussion I had with Stephen Davis, after commenting on a video, in which he destroyed my argument in favor of Deleuze. This should give you a rundown of the criticism and how it functions against K or performance affs. The video we’re discussing is hyperlinked. The way he frames it and answers my points is also very important.



Jonathan Cook: I definitely showed this to a bunch of friends last year. We now talk like this 24-7

Stephen Davis: I am not sure what you mean but i think that it might make me kind of uncomfortable-- im pretty certain that hennesey youngman, is himself a piece of performance art wherein someone puts on a character, the style of that character's speech is a caricature of what anthropologists call "Black Vernacular English" or the possibly the "Hip Hip Speech Style" this method of communication carries with it a particular relationship to the world, a history or a context or a situatedness that is probably inappropriate for us, as white folks, to appropriate and use for our own enjoyment. im not trying to call you out or give you the business or anything cuz i don't know if, indeed, that is what you meant, but i do know that sometimes white folks will, for one reason or another, code switch in and out of a caricature of black communication style that is not, in a sense, theirs. Doing so is probably complicit in some manner of violence. Again, you could be talking about something else or could not have meant it that way but i thought this was a good opportunity to talk about the ethics of code-switching and deploying caricatures of black communication practices and the inevitably blurry lines, and thus precarious situations, that such practices create. all gravity aside tho, this dude is, in fact, amazing.

Jonathan Cook: Very interesting... But wouldn't code switching share the potential for demystifying codes, removing any sense of ownership over them? It seems that a root of many problems, of course not all of them, in the world is the idea that anyone person can have a set code/personality.

Wouldn't scrambling these codes, using them, discarding them, and re-appropriating them create a world in which we cannot associate with any given code, and we move along without a set system or identity?

I'm not arguing, and I find your statement incredibly interesting. I just would love to discuss this idea. Granted, I don't know a lot about code-switching, but it's a curious concept.

Stephen Davis: Ok bout to drop a little rant here-- gonna go in a few different directions-- bear with me.. theoretically, maybe what you say about demystifying could be useful. but it tends to forget the bodies that codes are attached to. its quite difficult to explain what that looks like-- and not have that explanation describe something that sounds kind of racist. we can understand all of that in the abstract but when it becomes embodied the debate turns into one about the appropriateness of blackface or of contexts in which it is appropriate for a white person to drop N-bombs. Towson used to have this thing called the Nommo counter-plan that read the plan-text in the Hip Hop speech style or BVE or whatever and every once in a while a K team would make this kind of argument about why they get to perm the BVE text( they also do this about the Hip Hop arguments that emporia made last year) there was always 2 levels of answers that were difficult for the K team to resolve: what does that look like? cuz we think the practical embodiment of what you describe sounds kinda racist and B. language is as bodily as it is material-- the aff could not perm for the same reason why white bodies can't appropriate and demystify the performance of black cultural expression through some humorous, detached, ironic deployment of it--it cannot be separated from the body that produced it--if fear can be imprinted on bodies, if bodies can accumulate gratuitous violence, or be configured by it then there must be such a thing as embodied writing-- a counter-hegemonic discourse would be one that re/membered what history erased. the argument that there is no self--that there isn't an essential identity/personality is relevant but fails to account for the fact that the black subject was never a full subject in the first place. all of this talk about de-centering the self that the post-structuralist turn tends to valorize assumes there is something to decenter-- i think this is what wilderson, Hartman and others speak to when they talk about the black constituting an ontological void-- its condition was always already a lack--which would then position black cultural expression as an attempt to exist in the first place as oppose to reifying the tyranny of the self which is i think what your criticism would seek to un-work. in order to win an argument like this you would first have to win that black objects have the same ontological resonance as non-black subject do. i also think that you are flattening the nuance of the argument you attempt to deploy--you should be making claims about authenticity--and how there is no essential identity or authentic black cultural expression because blackness is an anathema to authenticity. this still doesn't stick tho--especially if we conceive of black cultural expression as an attempt to resonate--an attempt to get out of the constructedness which confines blackness to "thingness" by willing itself an ontology. it is also becomes problematic for you if we conceive of black cultural expression in deluezean terms--as kind of discursive jazz which escapes its own form as it writes and rewrites itself-- in this light your mimicry becomes an attempt to return that escape to the dialectic of the same-- there are also some opacity arguments that can be used here that would be problematic for you-- opacity--the coded nature of black language( thought) is a specific mechanism of resistance used to prevent the colonizer ( you, white people) from understanding and thus capturing black cultural expression into a white ideological matrix of intelligibility that has historically been a mechanism of control and domination making the "other" and object of the european intellectual tradition. wilderson says :"blackness is incoherent.... it exists in an impossible position with relation to hegemony... it works back against the grammar of hegemony etc. "

 

Edited by Ganondorf901
  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oklahoma CL characterized much of their args from last year as critiques of [the requirement of] code-switching, I think they have some rounds/cites online maybe

Was going to say this. I don't think that they have very good cites, but there are rounds available online.

 

This really isn't  a great aff.  Like, if we use "their" language, we'll just be excluding other people who don't know the new language.  There's literally no solvency.  Run "language of power" good as a net-benefit to this and its a fairly easy neg ballot.

 

Schmitt would also tear this apart. Attempting to universalise language of debate so it works for everybody probably excludes language not deemed acceptable by the aff a lot more violently than we exclude their language.

This does make a really good argument that teams have done well reading. 

The whole point is not that we have to use "their" language (I also feel like the whole idea of talking about ebonics as "their language" is kind've strange), but that we don't require minorities to use "our" (white) language. I don't even know what you mean by: "there's literally no solvency". 

 

Also, good luck finding forcing people to use white people language good and winning on it as a net benefit. I find that argument incredibly problematic, who are you to say what dialect is good or bad)

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

1) I think calling me "you crazy" is an unnecessary insult.

 

It was lighthearted. I'm not upset with you or insulting you. I'm sorry that didn't come across clearly.
 

3) You are conflating a literal ability to do something with the possibility to do something without sacrificing identity/key aspects of personal experience and social location, which are a key distinction being made here. This is functionally saying answering Wilderson and Social Death arguments with stuff like "obviously they are not dead if they can breathe." Black people may be able to code-switch out of some aspects, but that doesn't address the underlying violence in the fact that code-switching is sometimes the only viable choice of survival in white society for not just blacks but often times brown bodies (including both latino and middle eastern), especially considering that the coded aspects of blackness (linguistically and socially) are able to be adopted by white counterparts free of charge and without harm because white people can simply switch out while black folk may be able to abandon the culturally coded aspects of blackness, they are still "slaves to their physical appearance" (as Fanon put it), meaning they are still marked black by a society that devalues those aspects of blackness that aren't minstrelized.

 

To reiterate, white people can jokingly call each other "n-----s" all they want, but at the end of the day the black body is still a nigger no matter how white they act (I really hate to use that word, but the strict academic context and necessary desire to convey the extremity of the situation marginally justifies this one instance). This logic of code-switching requires the nonwhite body to abandon it's identity, social location, and lived experience, however due to their visually overriding marking of color, they will never be able to fully abandon said notions, as only the nonvisually marked body (ie the white body) can do so. Thus there is a disconnect between the process and the attempt; black folk can attempt to assimilate through code-switching but in actuality it's a futile process that generates more ontological violence to a body that has already been the victim of immense amounts of that violence (middle passage and white subjecitivity whatnot). The difference is between being able to and being able to afford to.

 

I could probably go on for a variety of reasons, but that's mostly my interpretation of the argument which may or may not necessarily be reflective of how other scholars/debaters articulate it. I think the language of my original post was pretty clear in making the said distinction above.

 

Here's a wall of text from one of John Cook's files in a facebook convo that I saw go down which explains code-switching a little bit more

 

 

Here’s a discussion I had with Stephen Davis, after commenting on a video, in which he destroyed my argument in favor of Deleuze. This should give you a rundown of the criticism and how it functions against K or performance affs. The video we’re discussing is hyperlinked. The way he frames it and answers my points is also very important.



Jonathan Cook: I definitely showed this to a bunch of friends last year. We now talk like this 24-7

Stephen Davis: I am not sure what you mean but i think that it might make me kind of uncomfortable-- im pretty certain that hennesey youngman, is himself a piece of performance art wherein someone puts on a character, the style of that character's speech is a caricature of what anthropologists call "Black Vernacular English" or the possibly the "Hip Hip Speech Style" this method of communication carries with it a particular relationship to the world, a history or a context or a situatedness that is probably inappropriate for us, as white folks, to appropriate and use for our own enjoyment. im not trying to call you out or give you the business or anything cuz i don't know if, indeed, that is what you meant, but i do know that sometimes white folks will, for one reason or another, code switch in and out of a caricature of black communication style that is not, in a sense, theirs. Doing so is probably complicit in some manner of violence. Again, you could be talking about something else or could not have meant it that way but i thought this was a good opportunity to talk about the ethics of code-switching and deploying caricatures of black communication practices and the inevitably blurry lines, and thus precarious situations, that such practices create. all gravity aside tho, this dude is, in fact, amazing.

Jonathan Cook: Very interesting... But wouldn't code switching share the potential for demystifying codes, removing any sense of ownership over them? It seems that a root of many problems, of course not all of them, in the world is the idea that anyone person can have a set code/personality.

Wouldn't scrambling these codes, using them, discarding them, and re-appropriating them create a world in which we cannot associate with any given code, and we move along without a set system or identity?

I'm not arguing, and I find your statement incredibly interesting. I just would love to discuss this idea. Granted, I don't know a lot about code-switching, but it's a curious concept.

Stephen Davis: Ok bout to drop a little rant here-- gonna go in a few different directions-- bear with me.. theoretically, maybe what you say about demystifying could be useful. but it tends to forget the bodies that codes are attached to. its quite difficult to explain what that looks like-- and not have that explanation describe something that sounds kind of racist. we can understand all of that in the abstract but when it becomes embodied the debate turns into one about the appropriateness of blackface or of contexts in which it is appropriate for a white person to drop N-bombs. Towson used to have this thing called the Nommo counter-plan that read the plan-text in the Hip Hop speech style or BVE or whatever and every once in a while a K team would make this kind of argument about why they get to perm the BVE text( they also do this about the Hip Hop arguments that emporia made last year) there was always 2 levels of answers that were difficult for the K team to resolve: what does that look like? cuz we think the practical embodiment of what you describe sounds kinda racist and B. language is as bodily as it is material-- the aff could not perm for the same reason why white bodies can't appropriate and demystify the performance of black cultural expression through some humorous, detached, ironic deployment of it--it cannot be separated from the body that produced it--if fear can be imprinted on bodies, if bodies can accumulate gratuitous violence, or be configured by it then there must be such a thing as embodied writing-- a counter-hegemonic discourse would be one that re/membered what history erased. the argument that there is no self--that there isn't an essential identity/personality is relevant but fails to account for the fact that the black subject was never a full subject in the first place. all of this talk about de-centering the self that the post-structuralist turn tends to valorize assumes there is something to decenter-- i think this is what wilderson, Hartman and others speak to when they talk about the black constituting an ontological void-- its condition was always already a lack--which would then position black cultural expression as an attempt to exist in the first place as oppose to reifying the tyranny of the self which is i think what your criticism would seek to un-work. in order to win an argument like this you would first have to win that black objects have the same ontological resonance as non-black subject do. i also think that you are flattening the nuance of the argument you attempt to deploy--you should be making claims about authenticity--and how there is no essential identity or authentic black cultural expression because blackness is an anathema to authenticity. this still doesn't stick tho--especially if we conceive of black cultural expression as an attempt to resonate--an attempt to get out of the constructedness which confines blackness to "thingness" by willing itself an ontology. it is also becomes problematic for you if we conceive of black cultural expression in deluezean terms--as kind of discursive jazz which escapes its own form as it writes and rewrites itself-- in this light your mimicry becomes an attempt to return that escape to the dialectic of the same-- there are also some opacity arguments that can be used here that would be problematic for you-- opacity--the coded nature of black language( thought) is a specific mechanism of resistance used to prevent the colonizer ( you, white people) from understanding and thus capturing black cultural expression into a white ideological matrix of intelligibility that has historically been a mechanism of control and domination making the "other" and object of the european intellectual tradition. wilderson says :"blackness is incoherent.... it exists in an impossible position with relation to hegemony... it works back against the grammar of hegemony etc. "

 


The language of your original post was less clear than you think. I'm not making the conflation you discuss. I understand that black people who code switch are under a sort of coercion. What I didn't understand was that part of your post was about your perspective on whites who code switch, which didn't come across until the second time I read your post. Since the thread initialized with a discussion of blacks reading the Code Switching K, I was thinking in terms of blacks code switching. Earlier, when you said "it is a unique symptom of whiteness to be able to code switch... which is both only possible due to privilege, a form of blackface" I was very confused because I thought you were saying that all black code switching is a manifestation of their white privilege. That seemed like nonsense.

Now that it's clear to me what you're actually saying, I've got some quibbles. 

1. Whites aren't unmarked bodies in any meaningful sense. They're marked as white just as blacks are marked as black. Saying that blacks are marked in one way is implicitly to say whites are marked in a different way. Blacks are generally marked negatively and whites are marked positively, but both are marked. It's weird to say that black people have an ontology but white people don't and if that's what you think I guess I need some examples to make it clear what that means.

2. I don't think that code switching is as bad as you do. You act as though it's a rejection of someone's identity when code switching occurs, but I think tying black identity to a code is far too essentialist. I think that the codes we grow up with are a very small and inconsequential part of ourselves. I think that blacks who code switch are probably uncomfortable and I think that white people should be more open to various speaking styles, but you seem to think that situations where people code switch are atrociously violent and I disagree.

3. This argument is related to both the above points but deserves an independent space to be fleshed out. I have issues with the way you talk about white people code switching.

First, I don't think that it's easy for white people to code switch. I think that many white people who try to talk in black vernacular or "talk ghetto" are perceived as inauthentic, in fact much moreso than blacks who use academic jargon. This is true to the point where white kids with an interest in rap are often made fun of. Hardly significant, but still a drawback nonetheless. I think that the way you're perceived is the constraint on code switching with most impact because the entire idea of code switching is that you choose to do it when it's pragmatic to do so, and code switching is not pragmatic if you don't think it will work.

Second, you say that it's bad when black people code switch because they're rejecting part of their identity. I can't think of a reason this wouldn't be true for whites as well, however, unless whites have no social identity. And if whites don't have a social ontology and social ontologies are very important to individuals, isn't this the opposite of whites being privileged, aren't they at a disadvantage if they lack this? I think the conclusion of this chain of thought could easily result in supporting the people who believe whites need to have their own ethnic pride. So I'm inclined to reject the belief that collective identity is important because I think it makes racism really easy. I'll stick with boring old individualist liberalism.

Third, you don't seem to like it when white people code switch because you see it as a manifestation of privilege. But I think that if you're right that white people are easily more able to code switch, that's a good thing that we should try to spread to other races, rather than a bad thing that we should try to stop. I like the idea of fluid identities and want everyone's identity to be highly fluid.


Sorry that this post is highly disorganized and probably redundant in many places.

Edited by Umbrella
  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...