The OC Posted November 8, 2022 Share Posted November 8, 2022 Does being white have to do with race, culture, language or economic privilege? What does it mean to be white in 2022? 54 years ago ... "Speak White" is a French-language poem written by Canadian poet Michèle Lalonde in 1968, and condemns the linguistic, cultural, and economic exploitation and oppression of French-speaking Canadians, especially the Québécois, by the English language and Anglo-American culture. 1-Speak-Whiteen.pdf (umaine.edu) English Translation Speak White - Wikipedia Michèle Lalonde - Wikipedia “Speak White” by Michèle Lalonde (1968) Speak white It sounds so good when you Speak of Paradise Lost And of the gracious and anonymous profile that trembles In Shakespeare's sonnets We're an uncultured stammering race But we are not deaf to the genius of a language Speak with the accent of Milton and Byron and Shelley and Keats Speak white And forgive us our only answer Being the raucous songs of our ancestors And the sorrows of Nelligan Speak white Talk about this and that Tell us about Magna Carta Or the Lincoln Memorial The grey charm of the Thames The pink waters of the Potomac Tell us about your traditions As a people we don't really shine But we're quite capable of appreciating All the significance of crumpets Or the Boston Tea Party But when you really speak white When you get down to brass tacks To talk about gracious living And speak of standing in life And the Great Society A bit stronger then, speak white Raise your foremen's voices We're a bit hard of hearing We live too close to the machines And we only hear the sound of our breathing over the tools. Speak white and loud So that we can hear you From St-Henri to St-Domingue What an admirable tongue For hiring Giving orders Setting the time for working yourself to death And for the pause that refreshes And invigorates the dollar Speak white Tell us that God is a great big shot And that we're paid to trust him Speak white Talk to us about production profits and percentages Speak white It's a rich language For buying But for selling But for selling your soul But for selling out Ah! Speak white Big deal But to tell you about The eternity of a day on strike To tell the story of How a race of servants live But for us to come home at night At the time that the sun snuffs itself out over the backstreets But to tell you yes that the sun is setting yes Every day of our lives to the east of your empires There's nothing to match a language of swearwords Our none-too-clean parlure Greasy and oil-stained. Speak white Be easy in your words We're a race that holds grudges But let's not criticize anyone For having a monopoly On correcting language In Shakespeare's soft tongue With the accent of Longfellow Speak a pure and atrociously white French Like in Vietnam, like in the Congo Speak impeccable German A yellow star between your teeth Speak Russian speak call to order speak repression Speak white It is a universal language We were born to understand it With its teargas words With its nightstick words Speak white Tell us again about Freedom and Democracy We know that liberty is a black word Just as poverty is black And just as blood mixes with dust in the streets of Algiers And Little Rock Speak white From Westminster to Washington take it in turn Speak white like they do on Wall Street White like they do in Watts Be civilized And understand us when we speak of circumstances When you ask us politely How do you do And we hear you say We're doing all right We're doing fine We Are not alone We know That we are not alone Michèle Lalonde, 1970, translated Albert Herring, 2001–2012 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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