March 24, 2018

It's hard to Google "Black Girl Code."

I'm trying to Google that phrase because I said I would after reading the accusation that WaPo columnist Robin Givhan violated "Black girl code." Search results are dominated by things about the Givhan incident itself and also by an organization called Black Girls Code (which works on getting black female children involved in digital technology — that kind of code).

In fact, I give up. I'll just say it made me think of the idea of the "code of the streets," and that led me to this article in The Atlantic from 1994, "The Code of the Streets" by Elijah Anderson. Subheadline: "In this essay in urban anthropology a social scientist takes us inside a world most of us only glimpse in grisly headlines—'Teen Killed in Drive By Shooting'—to show us how a desperate search for respect governs social relations among many African-American young men." Note: men (not girls and certainly not "boys"). Excerpt:

[T]he street culture has evolved what may be called a code of the streets, which amounts to a set of informal rules governing interpersonal public behavior, including violence. The rules prescribe both a proper comportment and a proper way to respond if challenged. They regulate the use of violence and so allow those who are inclined to aggression to precipitate violent encounters in an approved way. The rules have been established and are enforced mainly by the street-oriented, but on the streets the distinction between street and decent is often irrelevant; everybody knows that if the rules are violated, there are penalties. Knowledge of the code is thus largely defensive; it is literally necessary for operating in public. Therefore, even though families with a decency orientation are usually opposed to the values of the code, they often reluctantly encourage their children's familiarity with it to enable them to negotiate the inner-city environment.

At the heart of the code is the issue of respect--loosely defined as being treated "right," or granted the deference one deserves. However, in the troublesome public environment of the inner city, as people increasingly feel buffeted by forces beyond their control, what one deserves in the way of respect becomes more and more problematic and uncertain. This in turn further opens the issue of respect to sometimes intense interpersonal negotiation. In the street culture, especially among young people, respect is viewed as almost an external entity that is hard-won but easily lost, and so must constantly be guarded. The rules of the code in fact provide a framework for negotiating respect. The person whose very appearance-- including his clothing, demeanor, and way of moving--deters transgressions feels that he possesses, and may be considered by others to possess, a measure of respect. With the right amount of respect, for instance, he can avoid "being bothered" in public. If he is bothered, not only may he be in physical danger but he has been disgraced or "dissed" (disrespected). Many of the forms that dissing can take might seem petty to middle-class people (maintaining eye contact for too long, for example), but to those invested in the street code, these actions become serious indications of the other person's intentions. Consequently, such people become very sensitive to advances and slights, which could well serve as warnings of imminent physical confrontation.

46 comments:

traditionalguy said...

R E S P E C T find out what it means to me...or I will kill you. Good thing guns are outlawed in Chicago.

Wince said...

Here's what Monica Showalter said over at American Thinker... more like a left-wing code of Omerta with the media.

The statement was meant to be off the record, private, and secret, just as President Obama wanted his speech to an unimportant sports conference kept top-secret. This is what she says in private when she thinks the cameras are off.

And it doesn't paint a pretty picture. In a bid to advance a wide-ranging left-wing agenda on America, Michelle Obama strategized that it would be best to fool the American people first into thinking she was just a nice garden lady and concerned only about nutrition. Her "nasty-rotty" food left the trust thing a failure, but never mind that.


https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/03/michelle_obama_admits_her_vegetable_garden_schtick_was_all_a_ruse.html#ixzz5AgLfqenx

rhhardin said...

It's like ebonics. It has strict grammar rules, just not those of standard English.

rhhardin said...

Systematizing is a white thing.

Lucien said...

When you don’t respect yourself it becomes more important to get respect from others. Black Lives Don’t Matter to the young men who would rather kill than be disrespected.

rhhardin said...

Read Erving Goffman for systemization of things everybody does that nobody notices is rule-bound.

Rob said...

If I understand this correctly, Robin Givhan disrespected Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, and they now the right to pop a cap in her ass.

Gahrie said...

The first rule of Black girl code is never talk about Black girl code.

donald said...

You are correct Rob.

William said...

The first rule of the Black Girl Code is that you don't discuss the Black Girl Code in public. Ironically, the woman who banned the reporter committed a greater infraction of the Code than the reporter. It's important to maintain the pretense that all mention of a Black Girl Code is racist........I wonder what their position on Mrs Mugabe is.

Bay Area Guy said...

Cardi b has some thoughts on the Black Girl IRS Code:

"So you know the government is taking 40 percent of my taxes, And, Uncle Sam, I want to know what you're doing with my f***ing tax money."

madAsHell said...

"Acting white" has it's own wikipedia page.

Michael K said...

Feral children. Raised by wolves.

Ironclad said...

In simple terms it's an honor versus a rule based culture. Personal "honor" or "face" is more important that mere societal rules developed in the west. We see those cultures in the Middle East and generally associated with failed states.

And in the streets of our urban paradises.

tcrosse said...

Being a black woman with a grudge was, as it turns out, not that special.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

If he is bothered, not only may he be in physical danger but he has been disgraced or "dissed" (disrespected). Many of the forms that dissing can take might seem petty to middle-class people (maintaining eye contact for too long, for example), but to those invested in the street code, these actions become serious indications of the other person's intentions. Consequently, such people become very sensitive to advances and slights, which could well serve as warnings of imminent physical confrontation.

This sounds like one of those nature shows. I hear the narrator's voice when I read this.

Achilles said...

Racism is all the leftists seem to have right now as a platform.

Gahrie said...

Racism is all the leftists seem to have right now as a platform.

Which is sort of ironic, because the Left also insists that race doesn't exist.

madAsHell said...

"Black girl code" can only be seen from the left edge of the bell curve, and is a corollary to "Snitches get stitches".

Big Mike said...

Blacks responding violently to a “dis,” even when no “diss” is meant, has to be fixed — and from within the black community — or the loss of life will be horrendous forever.

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

I found this on the internet:

"...The “strong Black woman” is a long-established image in U.S. society pressuring Black women to maintain a fa├žade of strength at all times... ...By exhibiting these behaviors, they delineate a safe space to promote solidarity within the group and confront oppressors collectively....

...The study advances a path model to represent the empirical associations among four key variables: strength regulation, group identification and solidarity, verbal confrontation, and relational quality with the White woman....

...In particular, many Black women cherish their cultural communication style because it signifies a common experience of enslavement, disenfranchisement, and marginalization...

...This kind of work treats Black women’s talk as a unique system of speaking and steers away from drawing shallow comparisons between Black women and other speech communities (i.e., White women and Black men)....

...Standard White American English is the dominant language system in the U.S., but Black women occasionally want to communicate from a perspective that allows them to fully express themselves without the linguistic limitations of American English. In other situations, Black women must speak with a Standard American English system to avoid unfair judgment of non- normative, culturally specific speech...

...Strength is also interwoven into the fabric of Black womanhood. Some women fear that they will lose their cherished Black woman identity (the essence of their entire self-concept) if they deviate from the strength image because that behavior is considered “weak,” “not Black,” and “white girl shit”...

Which basically could be boiled down to:

• Black Girl Code is a facade of strength delineating a safe space to confront oppressors collectively.

• Black Girl Code is, in part, a reaction to relational quality with the White woman.

• Black Girl Code is a way to avoid the limitations of Standard White American English and of the speech employed by White women and Black men.

• To deviate from Black Girl Code is to exhibit behavior that is considered “weak,” “not Black,” and “white girl shit”.

Which seems to say that Black Girl Code is defined by reaction to external forces.

Those external forces are primarily white people.

(to be continued)

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

(continued)

Which seems to say that Black Girl Code is defined by reaction to external forces.

Those external forces are primarily white people.

Which then seems to say that Black Girl Code is just the opposition to Stuff White People Like.

From Wiki:

"Stuff White People Like (sometimes known by the initialism SWPL) is a blog that takes a satirical aim at the interests of North American "left-leaning, city-dwelling, white people"...

"..it is not about the interests of all white people, but rather a stereotype of affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans, who typically hold a degree in the liberal arts."

So Black Girl Code could be particularly seen as a reaction to "affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans".

Which often are the people who believe themselves to be the most sensitive to racism.

And the more sensitive to race that you proclaim your white self to be just increases the importance of Black Girl Code.

Which might then position Black Girl Code closer to the antithesis of affluent liberal whites: Redneck Code.

From the Redneck Country Club website:

“RCC”, or the Redneck Country Club, is a place where good people can relax and have a beer, a bourbon or some whiskey, and some proper Southern cooking while listening to a musician croon his heart out, around other like-minded people."

I would suggest that Black Girls might appreciate proper Southern cooking while listening to a musician croon his heart out, rather than being at a party with affluent whites who pat themselves on the back about understanding racism and eating organic kale.

Also note, however, that the above states that Black Girl Code also is a reaction to the speech community of black men.

From singleblackmale.org, "The G-Code: Unwritten Rules That Separate Men From Boys."

Rule # 1: You can’t knock the hustle

Rule # 3: A Gentleman does not console women or disparage other men for the purposes of winning.

Or:

"I live by the g-code, I die by the g-code
don't rat, don't snitch, don't bend, don't fold"
--B.G. "Heart of da Streetz"

This is where a Venn Diagram would come into play. The circles of Black Girl Code, Redneck Code and G Code, when overlapped, most likely produce the archetypal 'Ride-or-Die' chick that Althouse posted about previously this week.

Considerably outside of that overlap are the affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans. No ride-or-die chick would ever have any use for them.

The Germans have a word for this.

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

I would also say that the affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans probably like the Almost Politically Correct Redneck meme. In a socially conscious way of course.

From Know Your Meme:

"Almost Politically Correct Redneck is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photo of a young shirtless man with a mullet hairstyle standing next to a pickup truck. The captions typically portray the man as an earnest and well-meaning but unaware of his own stereotypical redneck prejudice."

An example of this meme:

"It don't matter if yer yellow, brown, black, orange. Or normal."

Implicit in this meme is a way for the affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North American to say non-P.C. things, while keeping an ironic distance. Making it better is that the affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North American is making fun of the white Americans they disdain.

How many affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans would forward these memes to a black friend*?

(*if they actually had black friends, not just the black people they might work with)

The answer is obvious: they would not send such things to a black friend.

Because they are worried that the black friend might be offended.

Or -- worse -- think they are racist.

Because they believe the black friend wouldn't get the joke.

Because the Almost Politically Correct Redneck meme is Stuff White People Like.

And a black woman receiving this meme from an affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North American would no doubt be expected to respond in a "Standard American English system to avoid unfair judgment of non-normative, culturally specific speech."

Black Girl Code would mean that she could only say what she really feels in a cultural community that shares "a common experience of enslavement, disenfranchisement, and marginalization."

Otherwise she is angry, not an energetic, lovely, passionate woman.

And an energetic, lovely, passionate woman is considered by Black Girl Code to really mean "“weak,” “not Black,” and “white girl shit”.

The affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North American probably pretends to dislike "white girl shit" from white girls, while wanting that from black girls because it is less threatening.

But to say they feel threatened by a black woman is akin to racism. So they would probably couch such concerns in a variant of Standard American English: Standard Affluent, Environmentally and Socially Conscious, Anti-Corporate White North American English.

Of course, "Standard Affluent, Environmentally and Socially Conscious, Anti-Corporate White North American English" is way too cumbersome to say, so there is an effective shorthand:

Woke.

The Germans have a word for this.

Howard said...

Blogger Achilles said... Racism is all the leftists seem to have right now as a platform.
Where does that leave the right? As was demonstrated yesterday your lord and savior, famous NY liberal entertainment mogul DJ Trump lead his merry acolytes down the leftist rabbit hole. You people like to say butt hurt in situations like this, but TMJ seems more appropriate to your situation.

Howard said...

Blogger tcrosse said...
Being a black woman with a grudge was, as it turns out, not that special.

Also Sprach RuPaulthustra

Gahrie said...

Blogger Achilles said... Racism is all the leftists seem to have right now as a platform.

Where does that leave the right?


I'm actually becoming worried that the Left's obsession with race is going to spur the same on the Right.

Howard said...

The millennial kids don't care about race or sexual orientation. Fortunately all the boomer baggage, left and right, is dying off. It's just that the light burns brightest just before it burns out. Try not to be distracted by noise.

Lance said...

After a couple minutes I came up with '"black girl code" -programming -camp -create -givhan', which produced a hit for www.skinnyblackgirlscode.com which purports to be a "digital safe space for black millennial women to feel unapologetically free from the status quo pressures of society." I don't see any mention of Jamilah Lemieux, so dunno if there's a connection. Also dunno what "skinny" has to do with "black girl code".

Other than that one site, the results seem to be about programming and the Givhan affair.

Bill Peschel said...

So "black girls code" doesn't exist, except as a media construct to bash Givens?

You mean like "alt-right" and "white hispanic" (re: George Zimmerman)?

Sounds about right.

Ann Althouse said...

Some of you are suggesting (or causing me to think) that the accusation that RG violated "black girl code" should be understood as a threat of violence. That is highly disturbing.

Ann Althouse said...

Maybe it's more of ironic/humorous gesturing at the idea of threatening.

Rabel said...

"The first rule of Black girl code is never talk about Black girl code."

Wrong. The first rule of Black Girl Code is...well, you'll get it if you'll watch this.

Michael said...

There was "The Code of the Hills" in Li'l Abner...

Bilwick said...

In the city where I live, the first rule of Black girl code seems to be talk as loudly as possible, and if the sound of the subway gets too loud, shout or scream.

After the Bernhard Goetz subway-shooting incident, David Letterman read a Top Ten list about James Ramseur, one of the guys Goetz shot. The list was something like "James Ramseur's Top Ten Rules of Subway Etiquette." One of the rules was something like, "Don't be greedy--share your music with everyone on the subway car."
That would apparently be the second rule of Black girl code in the city where I live.

Narayanan said...

@ironclad: do you think our elites/Congress critters display culture of rules or personal honor?

Narayanan said...

As compared to deplorables

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

From an internet thesis I quoted above was this line:

"...In particular, many Black women cherish their cultural communication style because it signifies a common experience of enslavement, disenfranchisement, and marginalization..."

Althouse later said (not in response):

"Some of you are suggesting (or causing me to think) that the accusation that RG violated "black girl code" should be understood as a threat of violence."

Violence, or the threat of violence, is seen by many as an acceptable response to "enslavement, disenfranchisement, and marginalization" (see: Palestinians; South Africa, etc)

This made me think of another group athat may be considered disenfranchised, marginalized, or even -- at least metaphorically -- enslaved: prisoners serving time.

From Wiki:

"Inmate Code (sometimes called "Convict Code") refers to the rules and values that have developed among prisoners inside prisons' social systems.[1] The inmate code helps define an inmate's image as a model prisoner. The code helps to emphasize unity of prisoners against correctional workers.

This code highlights the reasons why "rehabilitation" is often so difficult to achieve.

In New Jersey, Gresham Sykes performed a study in prisons and refined the code as follows:

1. Don't Interfere With Inmate Interests. Never rat on an inmate, don't be nosy, don't have loose lips, and never put an inmate on the spot.

2. Don't Fight With Other Inmates. Don't lose your head and do your own time.

3. Don't Exploit Inmates. If you make a promise, keep it, don't steal from inmates, don't sell favors, and don't go back on bets.

4. Maintain Yourself. Don't: weaken, whine, cop out. Be a man and be tough.

5. Don't Trust Guards Or The Things They Stand For. Don't be a sucker, the officials are wrong and the prisoners are right.

How different is this in spirit from the societal factors the above thesis attributes to the formation of what could be considered Black Girl Code?

Is Black Girl Code a way for black women to talk with other black women -- fellow 'inmates' -- who feel imprisoned in a racist America?

(to be continued)

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

(continued)

How different is this in spirit from the societal factors the above thesis attributes to the formation of what could be considered Black Girl Code?

Is Black Girl Code a way for black women to talk with other black women -- fellow 'inmates' -- who feel imprisoned in a racist America?

A way of speaking the truth with others of the same experience outside of the understanding of oppressors: from black women to prisoners to slaves:

From the Harriet Tubman Historical Society:

"Underground Railroad Secret Codes"

"Supporters of the Underground Railroad used words railroad conductors employed everyday to create their own code as secret language in order to help slaves escape. Railroad language was chosen because the railroad was an emerging form of transportation and its communication language was not widespread. Code words would be used in letters to “agents” so that if they were intercepted they could not be caught. Underground Railroad code was also used in songs sung by slaves to communicate among each other without their masters being aware."

"Baggage: Fugitive slaves carried by Underground Railroad workers.

Conductor: Person who directly transported slaves.

French leave: Sudden departure.

Load of potatoes: Escaping slaves hidden under farm produce in a wagon."

Notice: "Underground Railroad code was also used in songs sung by slaves to communicate among each other without their masters being aware."

From this context, now view Black Girl Code.

When the prisoner says "Don't Trust Guards Or The Things They Stand For. Don't be a sucker, the officials are wrong and the prisoners are right."

Replace "Guards" with Whites.

It is not 'some guards' or 'many guards' -- there is no attempt at divining distinctions.

From this light, Black Girl Code needs no attempt at divining distinctions. Whites are not to be trusted, no matter what they may say about the evils of racism: they are all part of the prison's guard system.

To use Standard White American English -- "the dominant language system in the U.S" is to use the language and vocabulary of your captors.

White People are Big Brother.

For black people the Ministry of White Peace concerns itself with War; the Ministry of White Truth with Lies; the Ministry of White Love with Torture; and the Ministry of White Plenty with Starvation.

Whites tell blacks that 2+2=5, and expect blacks to accept this.

Black Girl Code is a way for black women to tell each other that 2 + 2 DOES = 4.

The Germans have a word for this.

BJM said...

Whites tell blacks that 2+2=5, and expect blacks to accept this.

Black Girl Code is a way for black women to tell each other that 2 + 2 DOES = 4.

The Germans have a word for this.



They certainly do: Schwachsinn.

BJM said...

DDG didn't return a definition either, but Urban Dictionary returned many examples of black girls leaning to code...so that's a good thing, yes?

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

"They certainly do: Schwachsinn."

Ahhhh... but if you accept the concept of black women in America living as prisoners of white America, of black women culturally enslaved by white women, does any of my above comments not work?

The expected answer is usually going to be along the lines of 'black people are not prisoners of America. They are free to do what they please."

But what if they DO see themselves as prisoners?

Is not Michelle Obama inferring that she was metaphorically imprisoned by the limitations whites put upon her -- to not be angry in a 'black woman way', for instance?

Were the people at the conference not wanting to be heard/reported to the outside population not akin to prisoners talking outside of the hearing of the guards?

If this framework is how the wife of a Black President can see herself, does saying otherwise sound to many black people like white people expressing that 2+2=5?

2.49 rounds down to 2.

2.49 plus 2.49 rounds up to 5.

The concept of self isn't mathematical.

So the issue is how someone 'shows their work'.

From Wiki: "Category theory"

"...The "arrows" of category theory are often said to represent a process connecting two objects, or in many cases a "structure-preserving" transformation connecting two objects. There are, however, many applications where much more abstract concepts are represented by objects and morphisms. The most important property of the arrows is that they can be "composed", in other words, arranged in a sequence to form a new arrow....

"If one axiomatizes relations instead of functions, one obtains the theory of allegories."

The 'One Drop' rule was a mathematical rule, after all.

The word octoroon means one-eighth black.

A quarter black is a quadroon.

Half black is a mulatto.

Is this not White Math defining a black's identity?

Show your work.

The Germans have a word for this.

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

Perhaps commenters in Althouse share an Althouse Commenter Code.

Where would it diverge from the above prison code?

In New Jersey, Gresham Sykes performed a study in prisons and refined the code as follows:

1. Don't Interfere With Inmate Interests. Never rat on an inmate, don't be nosy, don't have loose lips, and never put an inmate on the spot.

2. Don't Fight With Other Inmates. Don't lose your head and do your own time.

3. Don't Exploit Inmates. If you make a promise, keep it, don't steal from inmates, don't sell favors, and don't go back on bets.

4. Maintain Yourself. Don't: weaken, whine, cop out. Be a man and be tough.

5. Don't Trust Guards Or The Things They Stand For. Don't be a sucker, the officials are wrong and the prisoners are right.

I imagine Rule #2 doesn't really apply.

Especially later at night.

This place IS Minimum Security.

The Germans have a word for this.

Achilles said...

Howard said...

Blogger Achilles said... Racism is all the leftists seem to have right now as a platform.

Where does that leave the right? As was demonstrated yesterday your lord and savior, famous NY liberal entertainment mogul DJ Trump lead his merry acolytes down the leftist rabbit hole. You people like to say butt hurt in situations like this, but TMJ seems more appropriate to your situation.

If I was as dumb as you that is how I would see it.

More realistically there are a bunch of people like Paul Ryan who run as one thing to get elected and do another when they are elected. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConell are democrats who aren't up front about their intentions.

This was not Trump's budget. This was the swamp's budget. Mattis and Kelley managed to convince Trump not to veto the bill.

I think Trump made a mistake. But I see you for what you are too.

Roy Lofquist said...

Ms. Althouse discussed the difficulty she had searching for "black girl code". There are a number of "tricks" you can use to make things easier. For example, you can exclude pages that contain certain words by prefixing them with a "dash". e.g.,

"black girl code" -givhan -computer

Here is a list: https://www.hbagency.com/every-google-search-operator-youll-ever-need/

Additionally, there is a "Tools" button just under the search box on the right. It allows you to select a date range to search.

Xmas said...

What Roy says, under the Google Search bar on the Google results page, click 'Tools', Click the text "Any Time", then select "Custom Date Range". I'd put in something like 1/1/2016 to Current or Previous Month's first day to get older but recent result.

When I did it I got something about "Black Girls Code" which was a charity to teach young black girls how to program computers.

JAORE said...

Strong black woman..... sigh.
I've known several woman claiming to be strong black women. They are, to an old, white me, to be negative individuals.

Loud, violent - out of proportion to events, socially irresponsible.

A really strong woman (of ANY color) tends to be self sufficient. A really strong woman only sexually connects (or at least limits having children with) men who could be a net positive in their lives. A really strong woman deals with adversity in a mature, socially responsible way absent a real threat to her and hers. A really strong woman gives great weight to the needs of her partner and children over her immediate pleasure.