Why do black people tend to shout? Now there is a question for the ages.
Black people tend to shout in churches, movie theaters, and anywhere else they feel the need to shout. When joy, pain, anger, confusion and frustration, ego and thought, mix it up, the way they do inside black people, the uproar is too big to hold inside. The feeling must be aired.
First of all, black people are too happy just being able to shout not to take advantage of the luxury. When you have read that bits were put in some of your ancestors’ mouth, you tend to shout. When a sweet grandmotherly sort has to tell you how black people once were chained in iron masks in the canebrake, to keep them from eating the cane while they harvested it, and that these masks were like little ovens that cooked the skin off their faces…
When you hear that grandmotherly voice and realize she once was a girl who might have been your girl, and someone caused this pain on her lips and nobody did anything about it but keep living — this gives you a tendency to shout, especially when confronted by an opportunity to speak to a smarmy talk-show host of a snarling highway patrolman.
Black people are too smart not to shout, especially when happiness comes in for a short visit before it has to go on down the road. We want happiness to know it’s appreciated when it comes calling. Poverty has something to do with the shouting, too. Most black people can’t afford to be quiet.
Black people shout because they want the answers to questions that go unasked. Like, who knocked the nose and lips off the Sphinx?
Black people tend to shout because they appreciate these and all of life’s other good jokes which started off as tragedies. We have to. The Bert Williamses, Pryors, Murphys and Cosbys didn’t become funny by accident. Life gave them material. Laugh or die.
Black people tend to shout because nothing has come close to making those of the African diaspora less determined, or less artistic, or less inventive, or less adaptable, or less productive, or less wise, or less creative, or less stupendously gorgeous.
Black people shout because they are immortal and sense this. Black people sense this because we have been dying for years, shouting and dying, yet here black people are, the salt of the earth. Here we are.
Black people tend to shout because nothing can stop a new meaning in life with each passing generation.
Black people tend to shout because they dare to have the nerve to not be silent.
Besides, if black people didn’t shout, who would? Now there is a question for the ages.
The above is an excerpt from the book, Why Black People Tend to Shout. The author, the late Ralph Wiley, offers his opinions and observations on a variety of concerns affecting black Americans.