A Sanctified Women’s Bible Study (BM #2)

Jalen Smith  1/4/12

Quarter BM- Language Essay                             

       How Does Language Intersect With Identity?

                               A Sanctified Women’s Bible Study                                                      

“Jalen, Jalen it is time to wake up shug. Time to have us some bible study. Meet us down stairs ok shug.” 

“Alright Aunt Shirley, coming soon.” I replied politely.

I told Aunt Shirley I would be coming soon but all I can think is; Oh lord, this women is crazy. Calling herself trying to have bible study at 7:30 in the morning, or at least she is crazy enough to tag me along in the religious participation on my vacation. I found her demands to be a little too oblivious to my expectations of what I had planned for this vacation. This is supposed to be my vacation, and I didn’t want to wake up early on a day like this. Just because she is a pastor and all, doesn’t mean she has to be spreading the word of god. She did this so often that it had gotten to the point where she exaggerated every little thing drawing all the attention to her. No one ever paid any attention to me anymore. All eyes and ears were on her. 

Some times I feel really frustrated with my aunt Shirley. I love her but I don’t like how she uses up more of her energy pastoring instead paying attention to me. I mean, In my opinion an aunt is supposed to love and welcome their nephew more than she is suppose to lecture and preach about her job and religion. I tried understanding why my aunt was treating me like this but just couldn’t figure it out. I was too annoyed with the way I felt that I just couldn’t bring my self to put myself in her shoes. I understood that my aunt truly believed in what she preached and that she wanted others to as well. But sometimes I come to the conclusion that she loves Jesus more than she loves me.  

  Nobody is going to want to be around her. She always talks about Jesus. Jesus this and Jesus that, even around others. Not just me. There is a place for everything, and pastoring should be done in the church and not anywhere else. 

After I had completed all my thoughts about my problems with aunt Shirley I realized that she was still here.

“Come on Jalen, mama said to come down stairs now.” Aunt Shirley said.

“Alright!” I said, with force.

“Jalen we got some Bojangles, come on here. You betta come down stairs and get you some chicken and then after that we can have some bible study” said Aunt Shirley

I hurried and got ready. I ran down the steps to the kitchen, and I saw a whole bunch of people around the table. I started thinking quietly to myself again “she done called the whole family to the table.” I gagged. All my 50 million cousins were gathered around the table. Ten thousand biblical posters, hundreds of bibles and millions of sermon papers were all over the place. I knew that we were going to be in for a terrible vacation bible school lesson. 

After staring at all the biblical work my aunt said,

“Alright how did you sleep last night shug?” 

I wanted to say: “I slept good until you woke me up” but instead I answered “yes mam, I slept great last night”, with a satisfied tone of voice.

“Good, now get you sumna eat so we can have us some bible study.” She said.

“Yes mam.” I replied looking at the floor.

I felt doomed and I thought I was in church on a regular Sunday morning, instead of my aunt’s house, but at least she managed to ask me how my night was instead of going on about how great Jesus is.

Like I said before I love my aunt, even though my Aunt is very self-seeking when it comes to Christianity. And when it comes to support and love she is anything but self-seeking. After gorging my face with chicken, bowl berry biscuits and rice I felt this unfamiliar feeling of awkwardness, knowing that it was morning and we were sitting up here eaten some dinner food when it was the morning time. I shoved that thought away I sat down at the dinning room table and she began. 

“ The Laud Shall Suplay All Uv My Needs According To His Riches In Gloray. Alrayt Jalen I woon’t you to read the 10 coommandments.“ She ordered like a preacher in a church.

“Yes mam. You must put god first, Respect your parents, Do not be envious of others.” I said bored.

“Oh noooo shug you caint say that, it saays “Do not be envayous of others.” You gotta make sure to say exactly everything that the laud says. We gotta do this one more again honey bunches of oats.” She said stern.

Already I felt as though Aunt Shirley was going to chop me up and spit me out just because I pronounced the words differently than she does. I said everything that the paper was saying and felt like I had a guard on, the whole time as to please her. As I read the paper she knew that she is from North Carolina  and that I’m from Philadelphia, but yet she still continued to stagger me about forming my words with a southern accent so as to sound like a southern boy who was living in California like she was.  She assumes that, just because I say things differently from the ways she says them that I am mixing up the words of the lord. Her assumptions and expectations are becoming unbearable; she assumes I am wrong she expects me to be a “Christian-holic” like her.  I sighed unable to do anything about my disagreement and carried along with my biblical side, reading what she wanted me to.   

“You must out god first Respect you parents, Do not be envayous of others, Remember God’s Sabbath.” 

“You caint say that baby cakes. The laud didn’t say that shug. He saay’s Remamber God’s Saybbath shug. You gotta get this rioght hun.”  She said.

That was when I had just expressed the truth as to how I was feeling about being ordered to pronounce the way I’m not used to. Of course I did it in the most quaint and polite way possible, not to offend her or God but just enough to get my point across.

“ Aunt Shirley, I am saying everything right but you are always correcting me just because I have different dialect than you. I am reading exactly what the paper is saying. When you keep correcting me over small grammatical errors I makes me feel non intelligent. I feel like I am in a spanish class room and every-time I speak spanish I get the accents wrong but this is plain english. I am speaking correct english and the bible was written in plain english. Jesus also known as the “lord” spoke clearly with no accents even though he did speak a different language. We all have different ways in which we speak and I don’t think that it is right for you to keep correcting me over accents.” I finally and conclusively stated my frustration.

“ Well I am so sorry darling. I didn’t mean to be so hard on you and make you think that you are non intelligent. It’s just that I have been speakin’ with a southern accent fo’ many years and sometimes when I hear someones dialact from the east coast it sounds confusing to me shug. I so sorry hun and I don’t won’t you to think that I am a bad aunty. She replied to me apologetically. 

“No Aunt Shirley I love you and I forgive you for correcting me. I know that sometimes it is difficult to hear a different dialect from someone and sometimes you want to correct it because it is not familiar to you but just know that everyone are different and you can’t always correct everyone because you may hurt someones feelings.”

“Okay my honey bunches of oats. I will take that in consideration, now I know what to do when something like that happens again. Would you like me to make you some pig feet shug?”

“Yes mam, I would greatly appreciate that.” I said with a smile to her thoughtful offer to make up for her mistake.  

My situation with my aunt at that moment reminded me of a story called “The Woman Warrior” By, Maxine Hong Kingston. This was a story about a girl who similarly like me. She was urged to speak “properly” as to what her mother’s requirements were. She did not meet her mother’s requirements and so her mother out of “love” literally cut a portion of her daughters tongue off. In my case it was my aunt that was trying to correct my dialect to the way she talked which was a southern accent, but at least I did not literally get my tong cut off. I only got pronging criticism. 

“I cut it so that it could not be tongue-tied. Your tong would be able to move in any language”.

Said the mother of her tongue-tied daughter. 

I feel like I can closely relate to the character from the story. Even though my situation was not nearly as drastic as hers. since an elder that she really loved- her mother was nagging her about changing a part of who she was just like my aunt was doing to me.