“Sorry to Bother You: Theorizing Language, Resistance, and Racial Capitalism”

Event Date: 

Friday, October 18, 2019 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm

This working paper explores how Black and Indigenous cultural actors in the U.S. and South Africa produce media to disrupt the white cultural and linguistic hegemonies that uphold racial capitalism. I analyze excerpts from three texts—Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, social media produced by Black women in the U.S., and the documentary film Afrikaaps produced by Hip Hop artists in South Africa—to explore how creatives are theorizing the links between language, race, patriarchy, capitalism and colonialism. Integrating linguistic analysis with critical media studies, I illustrate how paradigms like raciolinguistics and culturally sustaining pedagogies, among others, can offer a substantive break from mainstream thought and help move us towards justice.

H. Samy Alim is the David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology at UCLA, and the Founding Director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Language (since 2010). His is also affiliated faculty with the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.