A fun and thoughtful dictionary of Black language you didn’t know you needed, Historically Black Phrases is a love letter to the Black community and the ways it drives culture.
“This perfect blend of explanation, definition and social commentary will have you laughing while learning.”—George M. Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of All Boys Aren't Blue and We Are Not Broken
Black vernacular doesn’t often get its due—despite its enormous influence on mainstream culture—but Historically Black Phrases is here to give Black language its flowers. A celebration of more than two hundred staples of Black conversation—from church sayings and units of measure to compliments and reprimands—this sharp and witty guide explores the unique importance of Black expression and communication. Historically Black Phrases offers definitions and notable pop culture moments, as well as tips on pronunciation and usage of phrases like “feelin’ yourself,” “don’t get it twisted,” and “pop off.” In addition to the phrases, short essays offer insight on different facets of Black language from scholars, entertainers, and pop culture commentators (i.e., everybody and they mama).
Authors, journalists, and hosts of the award-winning podcast FANTI, jarrett hill and Tre’vell Anderson examine each phrase with humor and cultural precision, making Historically Black Phrases a vital ode to how Black language influences the world.
About the Author
jarrett hill (he/him) is an award-winning journalist, sought-after host, moderator, and writer. He is president of the National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles and was named to the Ebony Power 100 in 2016. He is most notably known for breaking the 2016 Melania Trump/Michelle Obama RNC plagiarism story. He currently teaches at the University of Southern California and is a co-host of the widely popular podcast FANTI.
Tre’vell Anderson (they/them) is an award-winning journalist, social curator, and world changer. Named to The Root’s 2020 list of 100 most influential African Americans, they have dedicated their career to centering those in the margins, grey spaces, and at the intersections of life through a pop culture lens. Tre’vell is currently Editor-At-Large for Toronto’s Xtra Magazine and co-hosts two podcasts, Crooked Media's What A Day and Maximum Fun's FANTI.
“Historically Black Phrases is proof that Black folks all grew up in the same family. At a time when our words and sayings are often co-opted, this book reminds everyone that we are the originators. This perfect blend of explanation, definition, and social commentary will have you laughing while learning.”—George M. Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of All Boys Aren't Blue and We Are Not Broken
“The endless creative contributions of the Black community continue to be written off and dismissed—yet Historically Black Phrases fearlessly challenges this pattern. Black English is not ‘slang’ or ‘Gen-Z lingo,’ it is a documented and legitimate language. With everything from pronunciation to the proper contextual usage, this book teaches readers how our community communicates—and has them laughing along the way.”—Blair Imani, author of Read This to Get Smarter
“This colorful collection of words and phrases that connect us as a community and a culture reminds us that we do have a language—a lexicon that celebrates us and leaves us with a sense of camaraderie. With this book we are well reminded, with joy, who we are . . . Black and proud!”—Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield Norris, host of the Positively Gam podcast and cohost of Red Table Talk
“For anyone who has ever questioned the origin of the potato salad at the cookout or accused someone of reneging in a game of spades, Historically Black Phrases is for you. At a time when our culture is being widely appropriated, jarrett hill and Tre'vell Anderson give us a gift box of words filled with Black love, and they bring all the receipts. This book is a hilarious, provocative, empowering, informative, and inclusive celebration of Blackness, and I'm here for it.”—Keith Boykin, New York Times bestselling author