There are two diametrically opposed cultures in this country, whose languages are both spoken in the same inner city, where I know how to do some serious starvin’ and wreckless drug takin’ once upon a time, the way so many citizens on the fast track to the streets do to themselves, down on da avenue from where I beeen. These two languages are separate and distinct, even though the two type a folk inhabit the same streets n avenues n da same hood.
The one is the prim and proper cracker English, which is demanded at least as much as it be spoken among da honkies. The stiff shirt language is spoken almost everywhere by crackers of highfalutin background and education, you know what I be sayin’? Crackers go to the depths of the inner city to be wiff ova crackers at certain places downtown. They be in the churches and libraries at least, but they be all over. Ya don’ have to look far to see a lot a crackers. They’s everywhere.
This confounded cracker language a theirs, or versions of it, is still be formally taught in classrooms of the children’s school system of the cities and the counties around the cities. Cracker ladies make themselves feel better by being demanding cracker language of kids of color, until the kids’ll practically lose their natural dialect altogether. Dat’s whar crackers is up to. It’s all still spoken in cracker Sunday schools in cracker churches, far and wide in this country.
Crackers still win, too. This country hain’t narly so free as some pumped up crackers make it out be. They be folks in this here country what don’t cotton to listening this here cracker language spoken wherever they is. Day don’ like to hear it from their own kids neither. To them, dialect is the only false language ’round here. Day say it’s bad language if it Hain’t cracker. Plenty of people of color have been cogitatin’ how to git crackers out of the inner cities or sumpin’, so’s people of color kin have the place to themselves, but its impossible to force or cajole them crackers into doin’ nothin.
They’ll be mo’ n happy to give a cracker mo’ than a little bit of trouble if’n he goes round folks of color talkin’ such trash. An ole jail trick is to try demanding the cracker’s shoes, whenever you be locked down some places wif’ cracks. They be scared of people of color, because they know what they did. Day wanna hide from in behind locked doors.
What Ah’m talkin’ ’bout is freely spoken dialect, an’ ya can’t escape it goin’ out into da country down da’ state hospital, ta git yo self two hots and a cot fo’ a time or two, maybe in winter or some such time or anywheres you think you kin go ta git away from others. Crackers is everywhere, n their chatter be there with them too, whether you like it or not.
Ah had ‘nough of thinkin’ like dat for da moment, n Ah walks out of the day room n A Ward, Takernon State Hospital, out in the country club like a lot of crackers like ta go do. What Stanley Hockenschmidt, of German and Irish descent, was going to do was study dialect, without writing anything down to annoy anybody on the ward, an learn da language. Hockenschmidt always been good at languages n ain’t nobody gonna give him enough guff to keep him from learnin’ dis’n.
Stanley Hockenschmidt could conversate good in da language o the Home Boys from down on the Avenue, until the men of color on the ward were calling the guy Tarzan. It was a little tough to be learnin’ and speakin’ dialect, for a guy like Hockenschmidt, because he happen to be a cracker, brought up in the greatest traditions of crackers, from a cracker background the way White folks is raised.
The people of color have backgrounds and traditions like crackers do too. People of color, some of ’em, don’ like cracker police, and don’ like cracker mouth worth a crap. Tarzan was hoping to learn how to blend in with the home Boys from Down on th Avenue, on da ward n on da grounds, just by talkin’ different from what is customary of his cracker self. He got good wiff it all, and Hockenschmidt was truly accepted by men of color. He foun’ he had give up the herb and the wine, whatnot, go straight, so’s he understood what he was doin’.
He could walk up n down th avenue, or the ward, or the grounds o Takernon State Hospital like they wasn’t nothin’ to it. It wasn’t so tough for Tarzan to get along wi da Home Boys. Boy had friends among da people of color after a time. He’d been down on that self same Avenue they was. He’d been doin’ the self same starving they’d had ta done, eatin’ in the self same soup kitchens with people of color, and toked up on some of da self same herb.
Cracker didn’t recognize nobody in da soup kitchen anymore than he did on da avenue, but he be knowed, anyway. A cracker take the cotton out of his ears and put it in his mouth, he could learn somethin’, even though he might be thinkin’ he know’d everything. Stanley Hockenschmidt knew all this highfalutin cracker language, but he was good ‘nough to avoid complainin’ ’bout dialect. He crackers run th’ outside n people of color run da inside, an’ da boy was Hockenschmidt Tarzan if they ever be one.
Hockenschmidt be put out on da street by his folks for getting’ wasted too much, same as some of his homies down on the avenue was po’ and starvin’ within a few. Hockenschmidt was in good stead now. The Shylock and the dope man had lost a customer when Stan got sober and stayed sober. Those people didn’t know what to make of Hockenschmidt, now that he done walkt away from da’ herb and the booze. He got sober n kep’ his money to himself. He was all strung out when the brothers first knew him, but got all straightened out ever since he been to da state hospital wiff da boys dat last time.
Hockenschmidt wasn’t giving into the strong arm of that curs-ed Shylock, way he once did, an he hain’t havin’ no herb anymore, neither, same as he won’t take no wine. Man be struttin’ n speakin’ dialect good as any. Crackers want homies ta learn they language, but Hockenschmidt be doin’ it tother way ’round. He’s been turnin’ down everybody’s what gots the herb or the juice, like Hockenschmidt hain’t never had none of it. He’s a stand up guy. He be good to go. He don’t bother nobody, either down on da avenue or out Takernon way. He just don’t party no more, but he be cool.