The Vernacular Tradition

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American Literature (ENG. 2132) November 3, 2013 The Vernacular Tradition The vernacular tradition is said to be a form of oral expression, a structure made without a blueprint, or informal language. The term “vernacular” is used in so many ways. When looking at African American literature, poems, and songs, each are filled with passionate words. Whether it is a poem by Maya Angelou or a hip-hop song by Nas, it all has a feeling of expression that someone or a whole group of people can relate too. The format that the slaves used in their gospels are still present in today’s form of music. The vernacular tradition is an ever growing art form as said in the text “black vernacular forms are works in progress, experiment in a still new country” (pg.8). In African American history this vernacular art which is used day in and day out is a way of life, a way of survival, and a way of hope. African Americans have been subjected for centuries, no matter it be 300 years ago or yesterday you can hear that oppression being expressed in the music, speeches, poems, screen plays, a gospel, or just about any art form. African Americans are very skillful and talented when it comes to expression. When listening to the music or reading a piece of work you, have to look beyond the surface. A lot of the times the music is filled with such upbeat tunes that the message is not fully understood. Or sometimes in a speech like “The Ballot or the Bullet”, Malcolm X is so passionate in the way that he feels and so passionate that sometimes he went off topic with a few of his witty jokes and remarks. He might have gone off topic and said a funny joke here or there, but these jokes still fit into his message. If you didn’t get his sense of humor you really would have missed the deeper meaning of his joke. For example he uses this ideology when he says: “They got you going and coming. In
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