speak white: liberty is a black word

Speak white. National Patriots Day coincides with Victoria Day. But, the juxtaposition is a bit peculiar, since it honors the rebellion against the British in 1837… Quebec has always been a case study in the sometimes jarring contradictions between form and experience, tempered with a dose of historical betrayal and abandonment between mother France and the vagaries of the British.In this conflict,Quebec psychic survival depends on upon escaping the distortions and constrictions imposed by the accepted ordering of North American society, individual consciousness, inherited language, and ultimately, the established vision of civilization itself.

---In the late 1960s and 1970s, a Marxist trend emerged in French-Canadian historiography. Léandre Bergeron epitomized the most incendiary of the historians of that camp. In the preface to his Petit manuel de l’histoire du Québec, Bergeron addresses his fellow Québécois : ―We Québécois suffer colonialism. We are a prisoner people. To change our situation, we must first come to know it. Bergeron would proceed to present the French-Canadian people of Québec not only as ―colonized,‖ but triply colonized, in a relationship close to that of a ―slave in relation to the master. This history presented the French Canadians as having been exploited first by the French Regime (mid-sixteenth century to 1760)—who submitted them to feudalism and taxes, then by the English Regime (1760-1920), then by the American Regime (1920 to the present) under which the Québécois labor force and natural resources were freely exploited by United States capitalists--- Read More:http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1490&context=etd_hon_theses&sei-redir=1#search=%22leandre+bergeron+patriots+handbook%22

To have a history, in effect, legitimates us; it gives us the story of our existence, explains our role in the world and without it, it is almost as though we did not exist. What Quebec’s intellectual theorists have recognised, is that history has been written by the victor, the suppressor and the idea of history as a single narrative has now become defunct.  It is generally accepted that there is more than one way to see things, including history and which complicates, but makes more necessary, the process of uncovering the truth, a process which can be slow and painful but will inevitably lead to a clearer understanding of ourselves and our world, something a defiant but nonetheless traumatized Quebec people attempts to do through a reclamation of language and her past but Quebecers, and their  fellow Canadians, are also in danger of losing all sense of a cultural identity in the face of the overpowering, neighboring Americans. This cultural imperialism has recently come to be considered under the the term neo-colonialism, which  describes the condition of economic dependence that many post-colonial countries found themselves in.

Speak white
It sounds so beautiful when you
Speak of Paradise Lost
And of the gracious and anonymous profile that trembles
In Shakespeare’s sonnets

We’re an uncultured stammering race
But we are not deaf to the genius of a language
Speak with the accent of Milton and Byron and Shelley and Keats
Speak white
And forgive us our only answer
Being the raucous songs of our ancestors
And the sorrows of Nelligan… ( Michele Lalonde, Speak White)

---In the wake of Vallières‘ book, a few notable Quebec intellectuals began to expand Vallières‘ comparison of African Americans with the Québécois. The historian Léandre Bergeron included a number of parallels in his popular socialist ―textbooks‖ on Quebec history. He wrote that the relationship between a ―colonisé‖— which, he maintained, included the French-speaking people of Canada—and the colonisateur was like that between a slave and his master. He also maintained that those French Canadians who ―have accepted their fate as colonized people and lick the boots of the English and American colonizers‖— including those members of the élite whom the early Felquistes called ―negro-kings‖—were like ―the American Black…who seeks to lose his black identity and integrate into white society....Read More:http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1490&context=etd_hon_theses&sei-redir=1#search=%22leandre+bergeron+patriots+handbook%22 image:http://sites.google.com/site/bisson/montreal

Quebec has maintained a peculiar hold upon the imagination of English-Canadians as well as Americans.For Canadians, Quebec is both an “us” and a “not us” proposition; a type of mirror that reflects their conflicts, their ideals, and sometimes their sense of dispossession, a kind of cultural muse that provided romance, color and legend in compensation for what English Canada sorely lacks in their more staid cultural heritage. In this sense Quebec is an “us”, but at the same time Quebec is far removed and distinct enough for its tales of exaggerated corruption,moral and financial, infamy and gothic fantasy not to disturb the respectability of Protestant Ontario. “Not us” . It is an exploration of the alter ego of what Robertson Davies developed in his postulation of Canada’s “scotch banker” veneer. In this iteration, the English have an exceptional but repressed mystical spirit which can only be unlocked in the symbiosis with the French in which Quebec is both home yet hostile and foreign, an a disposable scapegoat.

But when you really speak white
When you get down to brass tacks

To talk about gracious living
And speak of standing in life
And the Great Society
A bit stronger then, speak white
Raise your foremen’s voices
We’re a bit hard of hearing
We live too close to the machines
And we only hear the sound of our breathing over the tools….( Lalonde )

---When the governor refused to grant them the reforms that they demanded, in 1834, they brought the business of the Assembly to a halt to force the British authorities to change.Under their leader, Louis-Joseph Papineau, the Patriotes gained support among the people. Papineau found particular support among many habitant farmers who had recently lost their crops to disease. People in the countryside were starving.The Patriotes sent the British government a list of demands in a document called the Ninety-Two Resolutions. In March 1837, the British government rejected these demands. Furthermore, it gave the governor, Lord Gosford, the power to use money from the Treasury without the permission of the Assembly. Mass protests followed. Papineau roamed the countryside, rousing the people with speeches. Early in November there was rioting in Montreal, and on November 16, 1837, British soldiers began to arrest Patriote leaders.--- Read More:http://www.angelfire.com/crazy4/rebel

s/ image:http://www.montrealfrancais.info/node/1833

…Speak white and loud
So that we can hear you
From St-Henri to St-Domingue
What an admirable tongue
For hiring
Giving orders
Setting the time for working yourself to death
And for the pause that refreshes
And invigorates the dollar

Speak white
Tell us that God is a great big shot
And that we’re paid to trust him
Speak white
Talk to us about production profits and percentages
Speak white
It’s a rich language
For buying
But for selling
But for selling your soul
But for selling out… ( Lalonde)

Cornelius Krieghoff.---The list of historical instances of ill-treatment of French-speaking Canadians by the British and English Canadians had long been an important element of the Quebecois nationalist rhetoric of suffering. Nationalists in Quebec tended to fall back on a standard narrative of grievances. In 1755, British troops forcibly expelled thousands of French-speaking Acadians from their lands in Nova Scotia. They then defeated General Louis de Montcalm and his French forces on the Plains of Abraham, outside of Quebec City; with the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War, Canada passed into the hands of the English. The Lower Canada Rebellion of the 1830s was harshly suppressed and assimilation policies would follow in its wake....Read More:http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1490&context=etd_hon_theses&sei-redir=1#search=%22leandre+bergeron+patriots+handbook%22 image:http://paddlemaking.blogspot.com/2010_01_01_archive.html

As any visitor to Quebec discovers, not even the protection of language, religion and tradition can save Quebec from the Americans. Because Quebec used to be so distinct, especially in the Duplessis era, the marks of Americanization are here much more visible than in English Canada. The English Canadian version of Quebec, “La Belle Province” is constantly violated by Americans and Canadians who have assimilated the “American” values of material progress and self-centered pursuit including ecological destruction. Ultimately, in Quebec, Americanism reveals itself to be not a nationality, but more powerful: a state of mind. In North America, it is impossible to be non-American. “If you look like them and talk like them and think like them you are them … you speak their language, a language is everything you do.” ( Margaret Atwood, Surfacing)

…Speak white
Be easy in your words
We’re a race that holds grudges
But let’s not criticize anyone
For having a monopoly
On correcting language

In Shakespeare’s soft tongue
With the accent of Longfellow
Speak a pure and atrociously white French
Like in Vietnam, like in the Congo
Speak impeccable German
A yellow star between your teeth
Speak Russian speak call to order speak repression
Speak white
It is a universal language
We were born to understand it
With its teargas words
With its nightstick words…( Lalonde)

---The particular Canadien nationalism of the Patriotes under the leadership of Louis-Joseph Papineau, had been influenced by Enlightenment principles and the American Revolution. It would arise as a response to unfair representation in the colonies and corruption in London. A culminating point of violence in the history of Quebec and of Canada, the rebellion, after a few considerable victories on the side of the Patriotes, was eventually crushed by British troops and twelve of its soldiers publicly hanged to serve as a lesson to future rebels. The Lower Canada Rebellion, although it had been fought by an alliance of French Canadians, Irish immigrants and even English Canadians, was reconceived in some circles as an ethnic struggle of French against English. Others attributed the rebellion‘s failure to the Catholic Church‘s support of the British.---Read More:http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1490&context=etd_hon_theses&sei-redir=1#search=%22leandre+bergeron+patriots+handbook%22 image:http://didwemissanything.edublogs.org/

Quebec has rapidly learned the American language that has already infiltrated the rest of Canada. Quebec can still fulfill its traditional role as the location of genuine Canadian experience and identity, but that seems to be fading, like the sovereignty option under the homogenizing forces of market economics. Still, Anglophones can find in Quebec’s cultural revolution and nationalist assertions a reflection for their own frustrated and far more vaporous and elusive quest for national identity.

…Speak white
Tell us again about Freedom and Democracy
We know that liberty is a black word
Just as poverty is black
And just as blood mixes with dust in the steets of Algiers
And Little Rock

Speak white
From Westminster to Washington take it in turn
Speak white like they do on Wall Street
White like they do in Watts
Be civilized
And understand us when we speak of circumstances
When you ask us politely
How do you do
And we hear you say
We’re doing all right
We’re doing fine
Are not alone

We know
That we are not alone ( Lalonde)

The notion of language as a set of meanings is demonstrated … through the cultural differences that words acquire and denote, … how the worst words in any language are those we are most afraid of, in French these are religious words and in English they are connected with the body and how in some countries the innocent Canadian emblem of a beaver has become a synonym for a female sexual organ….The protagonist, who, feels that she cannot express herself and that language has been hijacked by those in control, she must choose between rejection or subversion. There are some convincing arguments for the former, perhaps most adeptly proposed by Audre Lorde who argues that, ‘The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.’ Read More:http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEnglish/imperial/canada/surfacing.htm

Dustin Jeffrey:The prisons of Lower Canada were filled with Patriotes, and 99 were condemned to death for treason. Of these, 12 were hanged and 58 were sent as convicts to Australia. In Upper Canada, 24 rebels were exiled to Australia, and two were hanged (Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews).The British government sent Lord Durham to Canada to investigate the causes of the rebellions. Durham concluded that the main cause of the trouble in Lower Canada was the conflict between English and French. He considered the French to be a backward people. He proposed that Upper and Lower Canada should be united so that as, as the English grew to outnumber the French, the English would dominate the Assembly. Durham also recommended that the elected Assembly, not the British governor, should control the government. This system, later called “responsible government,” was too radical for the British and was delayed for several years. However, Durham’s plan to unite the two Canadas was carried out in 1841. Read More:http://www.angelfire.com/crazy4/rebellions/

Read More:http://neobeatniks.livejournal.com/55613.html

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