Everyone has their personal purpose for the use of a tool; a hunter would use a knife to kill prey, a butcher would use the knife to filet the hunter’s catch, a cook would use the knife to prepare the butcher’s meat, a mother would use the knife to slice pieces of the cooks dish. The knife was necessary from the moment the prey was caught to the final bite off of the mothers plate, but intended use was not consistent. The mother wouldn’t see the knife as the weapon used to slain the prey’s life, nor would the hunter attack its prey with the knife used to dine.
The ambiguity of Call & Response governing aesthetic serves to represent its universality, similar to the butchers, hunters, cooks, and mothers knife. It serves as a cultural bible used to be liberally interpreted by whoever flips through the pages. To some it may be a dictionary to be referenced by some of the great works of the African American story, or the manifesto to a stronger revolution than the ones displayed among the excerpts.
Within the preface we read how the content of the anthology responds to important socio-political issues, phrasing its ability to reach generations prior to the works provided and beyond. Personally, the preface explains clearly that the anthology serves as something greater than a reference to great African American work. It is evident that the content is used to stir the cultural flame that exists within the pain, hurt, and pride among the Spirituals and Folk cry.
It is a weapon waiting for its proper wielder.
The anthology’s greatest purpose is used to enlighten the reader of their incredible purpose- to act on the themes expressed through the excerpts. It represents a much more prominent cultural nationalist aesthetic than what it may be given credit for. To say that the excerpts are primarily used to reference the soul and heart of ancestral resilience is an extreme disservice to its true potential. While still understanding that the knife is utilized differently by the operator, I have internalized that everyone’s purpose with knowledge is different. Nonetheless, you do not need a curriculum to understand how you affect math; the dates in which the anthology was formatted displays a fountain of information for the youth to understand the relationship between the culture and its relationship it has with embracing black liberation and progression.
The table of contents represents more than a traditional sequential order of events, it stylistically creates a foundation of revolution amidst great struggle and its reflections in today’s time. From the Slave Works songs dated between 1619 to 1808, to the lyrics of Gil Scott Heron or the terrors seen in the Bronx from the rhymes by Grand Master Flash. But Rakim is not just another individual in the greater war for liberation, he gets is musical hymns from lives before his, so it isn’t him that’s lyrical- that rhythmic regiment that white America has profitalized, navigates from the soul and a touch grace reigns out everytime we hear a verse. This book serves to academically, spiritually, and emotionally activate a revolution within ourselves.
In the same manner where Sweet Honey In The Rock can emotionally move someone by detailing the words of their song “No More Auction Block”, or Dr. C.J Johsnson signing of the “One Morning Soon”, or thousands of AME churches all over America, that chant these rhythms in their unique variations, telling the story of betterment within struggle. Call & Response is a compilation of art that is used to promote a grander revolution by igniting subconscious flames among generations of thinkers, scholars, and anyone with the will to strive for justice.
We see commonalities within the subheadings of the table on contents when attempting to understand their specific significance. When reading the categories for each time period, we can see the story among them. The format subjectively reads: poetic context to the development of political action. From Southern Folk Call for Resistance (235) and Northern Literary Response… Rights For Women (245) to the entire subheading under “Win the War Blues” to “Cross Road Blues”. The format provided by the editors is a map; a journey already started by our ancestors, and it is up to our ferocious interpretation of this art to truly utilize our blessed tools.
I understand that purpose, I understand the map being drawn up within the compilation of our great works. The knife can be used to shape more than just a piece of venison, this particular knife can carve a nation for generations to come. Its content can fuel the fire for a march stronger than the untold freedom marches of New York City in the 60s, more than the 5 percent nations everlasting brotherhood that I have been taught to love in my city, more than the heaven sent instrumentals that have been echoed to the ears of the blind for centuries. Call & Response represents an empowering road map in this everlasting arc of justice; a guide in which my brothers and sisters can utilize to celebrate the voices prior to our interpretation of such wisdom and power.
The editors may have meticulously used Call & Responses ambiguity for the very purpose I have detailed, or the compilation has served greater meaning than its intended erection. Nonetheless, its aesthetic is beyond cultural nationalism, it is the almanac that WILL be used for tomorrow’s glorious revolution!