Arkansas 36

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BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

AGE: 39

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 1980

PLACE OF BIRTH: Warren, Arkansas

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: Black

OCCUPATION: author and facilitator

EDUCATION: Ph.D

AREAS OF RESIDENCE OUTSIDE REPRESENTATIVE REGION FOR LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS:

The subject has always lived in Arkansas. He has lived in both Warren and Fayetteville.

OTHER INFLUENCES ON SPEECH:

He says he was always told to speak properly and to enunciate his words.

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: Ben Corbett

DATE OF RECORDING (DD/MM/YYYY): 23/06/2020

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF SCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

ORTHOGRAPHIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH:

[Instead of an unscripted reading, the subject, Dr. RL Booker, reads his own composition, Am I Next?]

Am I next?
This is a thought that does not come to mind every day. But when it does, it’s enough to make any person challenge, and be angry at the idea that all men are created equal. It angers me to see my brothers and sisters continually being unjustly murdered in the streets. Every time I embrace my wife and my three-year-old daughter, I am flooded with the same question: Is this the last time they will embrace me?

Am I next?
The past three weeks for me have been filled with roller coaster of emotions. I have felt these emotions before, but this ride has been much more intense. We all saw Ahmaub Arbery running, fighting for his life, and ultimately murdered. We all heard the cries of George Floyd. “I can’t breathe … please … your knee in my neck.” His cries for help were not unfamiliar to Black Americans, for we have heard cries for help from our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, and friends. We also saw Amy Cooper weaponize her White privilege in an attempt to show Christian Cooper how inferior he was to her when she stated, “I’m taking a picture and calling the cops. I’m going to tell them there is an African-American man threatening my life.” This one call could have ended like so many real-life scripts that we have seen in which a Black person loses their life.

Am I next?
The situations Black folks experience in America are not isolated events. Sine 1619, history has been the marker with which we can see the long list of millions of Black folk that have been enslaved 246 years: lynched, segregated, deprived, marginalized, murdered, discriminated, discounted, and not believed. Twelve years after the 13th amendment, which actually freed enslaved Black bodies, Black folk were more prosperous than we had ever been. Nonetheless, the Great Compromise of 1877, fueled by White jealousy of Black success and prosperity, unleashed 103 years of Jim Crow on Blacks across the United States. This destroyed businesses, the ability to own a home, congressional positions held, human rights, and denied Black folk the ability to build wealth, which killed people like my five-times great grand-father, Anthony Lewis, who was brought here as a slave, from leaving any legacy to his children and his grand-children.

Am I next?
According to Roland Martin, 2013 National Association of Black Journalist National Journalist of the Year, the marker when Black Americans were technically fully free was 1970, meaning you could work anywhere, live anywhere, or eat anywhere. My mother was born in 1958 and attended a segregated school until fifth grade. This means that my three sisters and I are the first generation in our family to be born technically fully free. Even though we had important legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, there is a mountain of research and life experiences that show that Black Americans continue to face lynchings, segregation, marginalization, oppression, murder, discrimination, discounted, and not believed from the 1960s forward.

Am I next?
Fast-forwarding to the 1990s where Black folk, mostly men, have been the targets of police brutality, mass incarcerations, devaluing of life, and the subject of fear in the minds of people. This fear people of displayed for centuries has led to Black folk to work even harder to assimilate to the dominant culture. As many Black leaders have noted, if Black people in this country do not master the ability to bend, the system of systemic racism will break them. We’ve changed our hair. We’ve changed our clothing. We’ve learned to adjust the way we talk when in White spaces, and more. This assimilation is something that most Black people do not even realize anymore because this has become such a survival mechanism. Nonetheless, research shows that more than 80 percent of White people have very high levels of unconscious racial bias. This bias has led and continues to lead to the denial of access to much needed resources and dehumanization merely because of the color of one’s skin.

Am I next?
As a Black man, husband, father, and son, I ask that all Americans, especially my White brothers and sisters, not just stand with me but also do the work of learning the full history and injustices that plague Americans. Why am I asking this? Because I do not want to be next. Dr. Martin Luther King stated that Negroes only hold one key to the double lock of peaceful change. The other is in the hands of the White community.

We have written a Declaration of Independence, itself an accomplishment. But the efforts to transform the words into a life experience still lies ahead.

[Copyright Dr. RL Booker]

TRANSCRIBED BY: Ben Corbett

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): 18/08/2020

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY:

The subject’s tongue position is predominantly low in the mouth.

THOUGHT words lengthen the [ɔ] (daughter, thought, saw, calling, call, all, talk).

/r/ may drop in an inter-vocalic position or near the end of a plural word (murdered, brothers, sisters, inferior). This habit is not consistent.

Ending plosives /d/ and /t/ drop from some words (fast, adjust, next, old). /t/ occasionally drops from “it’s.”

DRESS words sometimes have an /ɪ/ KIT sound in the stressed syllable (friends, ended, events, bend).

KIT words sometimes use a lengthened /i/ FLEECE sound (skin, filled).

PRICE words use the monophthong [a] before both voiced and unvoiced consonants (wife, minds, time, ride cries, deprived, denied, compromise, minds).

/m/ may be held momentarily before released (marginalized, murders).

COMMENTARY BY: Ben Corbett

DATE OF COMMENTARY (DD/MM/YYYY): 01/09/2020

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