African American Language

An Understanding of the Power of a Gesture

Posted on: February 13, 2011

We as humans communicate verbally and non-verbally. Nonetheless,  African Americans have various forms through different mannerisms. It appears that “First African-Americans do it, then everyone else does. ” The words and body languages of African-Americans are portrayed highly in the media.  A great example of this is shown below.

Lil Wayne

Ever wondered where  the word “bling-bling” came from anyway?

African-Americans often rely on body language to get a point across instead of actually stating the problem. There are hundreds of different forms of body language African-Americans do in their daily life. Let’s focus on a few of them.

“Giving the Hand”

http://elev8.com/files/2010/02/black-woman-giving-man-the-hand.jpg

This gesture means that the person throwing up their hand is not trying to hear anything the other person has to say. When a person “gives the hand” the other person automatically knows that their point will not get across.

“Fist Bump”

http://bmia.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/obamafistpound.jpg

This gesture means one of two things. One, you are greeting another person and instead of actually speaking you touch fists with the other individual.  This is often a simple way to say hello in  the matter of seconds. Another way of using this is , when you are acknowledging to the other person that you are impressed with what they accomplished. Examples: passing of a test, winning an election.

As a child, my mother would often use the “give the hand” gesture when she would be conversing on the phone or when I was interrupting something. I learned to keep quiet faster than from my mother stating to be quiet. Thus, we learn what these forms of body languages mean at an early age and use them as we get older.

Other forms of body language African Americans  use is  ” hands on hips.” This form is dominantly used by African American women.

Hands on Hips

http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-3949855/stock-photo-black-woman-in-purple-hands-on-hips-attitude

This form is used to show attitude. African American women often do this as a way of letting people know they are mad or want to get their point across. African American males usually don’t do this.

These are definitely not all the forms of body language African-Americans use but, these are some of the most common ones.  A person would say that African-Americans are one of few words. Nevertheless, that is not the case.  An understanding is made that a gesture can go much further than a spoken word.

Written by: Raven 2/13/11

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9 Responses to "An Understanding of the Power of a Gesture"

(EMMA LUTZ)
In African American Communication and Identities, Ronald Jackson III discusses kinesics. He talks about the nonverbal communication patterns of Blacks. I found it interesting when he exposed how Blacks speak a variety of English different from Whites. Blacks have a common understanding of the dialect they use that differs from mainstream, White, dialect. This idea describes gestures also. Similar to the examples listed in this blog, Jackson points out patterns in nonverbal Black communication. He talks about “the black walk.” White men walk with strides, and look like they are on a mission. However Black men walk slower with rhythm and style. I never considered the meaning behind the different mannerisms of African Americans. I think the problems that result from communication between races are created by misunderstandings. We don’t take the time to consider the meaning behind an action. We don’t try to see through someone elses perception. I think misunderstandings of meaning cause the miscommunication between people of different races.
(EMMA LUTZ)

(EMMA LUTZ)
In African American Communication and Identities, Ronald Jackson III discusses kinesics. He talks about the nonverbal communication patterns of Blacks. I found it interesting when he exposed how Blacks speak a variety of English different from Whites. Blacks have a common understanding of the dialect they use that differs from mainstream, White, dialect. This idea describes gestures also. Similar to the examples listed in this blog, Jackson points out patterns in nonverbal Black communication. He talks about “the black walk.” White men walk with strides, and look like they are on a mission. However Black men walk slower with rhythm and style. I never considered the meaning behind the different mannerisms of African Americans. I think the problems that result from communication between races are created by misunderstandings. We don’t take the time to consider the meaning behind an action. We don’t try to see through someone elses perception. I think misunderstandings of meaning cause the miscommunication between people of different races.
(EMMA LUTZ)

This was a very cool and interesting blog post. I think that many people do not think about the common maneurisms used by people. I like how they were defined and how the blogger provided pictures. It helps me to see what people are saying when they use these maneurisms.

– Jeff

I completely agree with this post. A lot of African American communication is non verbal, especially with females. This is even present in young black children. I have a 6 year old and a 9 year old cousin, both of them girls, and as long as I can remember they have been fluent in rolling their eyes and necks to get their points across. Both the six and nine year old are both at an age where they feel the need to pose with their hands on their hips when they try to get smart with people. Non-verbal communication is a huge part of African American culture that is very specific to those of our race.
~Tameisha

All that was said was true, on each gesture if you read section 2.4 in Jackson’s African American Communication & Identies it talks about “Black Street Speech”. How black street speech is agued by some people to be nonstandard dialect is essential to an cultural group while others wee it as a downfall to success. I bring this up because during the process of speaking gestures are usually use either before, during, or after and all those elements is what make the communication come alive. In most cases, you know as young adults we understand it because we use it alot, but then you have other people, older people, or people from different countries or racial groups who don’t use it or understand it because it is really not involved on a daily basis in their lives. So, I feel like what you said you hit it on the nail exactly. I think it all depends on that person and their social backgrounds they come from and are still in. Because, like I learned in my self in society class, society has come up with all the symbols that have meaning to them and in most cases we base our reasoning based off what society says it is and that is where the problem comes in. In which, the stereotypes and miscommunication starts to come out and really who is to say that one style of living based on a culture is better than another. Because, to me I think you could kind of take things from other cultures to find what you want to implement in to your own life.
(Kirstin Plunkett)

this was a very interesting post because of the fact that i can relate to everything that was posted here. it is done so much around me that you usually don’t even recognize it unless it is pointed out. it is even used out side of the ‘street’ as it was said in the text. but don’t you think that with the mis-education and interpretation of some of the blacks body language and dialect it can be viewed as disrespectful to those who do not understand.

Laya Canty

I also feel like i can agree with the post. After I read this blog I went out and watched some of my friends as they were talking. I never realized how much we use all of those gestures. Especially my female friends when they were talking. It seemed like they switched hands on their hips every time they got deeper and deeper into out conversation.
Kayla Washington

I also feel like i can agree with the post. After I read this blog I went out and watched some of my friends as they were talking. I never realized how much we use all of those gestures. Especially my female friends when they would put their hand up when they weren’t trying to hear what was being said. I know for a fact that I do it ALL of the time.
Kayla Washington

Yeah a lot of females even I do it only in when I’m in a playful mood though not when I’m really mad. But have you ever seen any of you friends use hand gestures to describe something? If you really pay attention their hands can also tell you what they talking about.

Shaniquequa Tyler

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