Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How Do You Like Your Coffee?

There's been a call to boycott Starbucks after two African-American men were arrested for allegedly trespassing at a franchise in Philadelphia.  Yesterday there were protests in front of that store.

As the protest organizer Abdul-Aliy Muhammad claimed, "We don't want this Starbucks to make any money today."  A regional vice president tried to talk to the people on the street but was shouted down.

About two dozen protestors were chanting slogans such as "A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black."

This is disappointing.  They had a whole day to come up with a chant, and they can't even rhyme properly?  Even by the standards of today's popular music, "crap" and "black" is pretty bad.

Who comes up with these things, anyway?  Shouldn't the assignment be given to people who have already proved they understand what a real rhyme is?

And while we're at it, it doesn't even scan.  They should work on that as well.


Anonymous Eobard Thawne said...

I agree with you regarding the awful attempt at rhyme.

But I disagree regarding the scan. Poetry, songs, and political chants have different rules for scan.

Poetry must scan properly, syllable by syllable.

Songs are judged by meter, not scan: if you switch from quarter notes to eighth notes, you can include additional syllables without any problem. More generally, a line can have a fast portion and a slow portion. "I've got no kick against modern jazz" is sung over four beats: the first six syllables are sung over the first two beats, and the remaining three syllables are sung over the final two beats. Poetry can't do this.

Political chants, like songs, need not be constant rhythm. In the following examples, the first and second line have equal duration:

"Hey hey, ho ho,
Western Civ has got to go!"

"Jane Fonda, you can't hide,
You're supporting genocide!"

"El pueblo, unido,
jamás será vencido!"

which became in English:
"The people, united,
Will never be defeated!"

to which our side would reply:
"The Contras, united,
Will never be defeated!"


2:51 PM, April 17, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

But they're setting up their own rhythm. They begin with "A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap." The two unstressed syllables in "ism" of "racism" just doesn't play. It sounds bad no matter what, and doesn't work with the following parallel line.

The structure clearly calls for a two syllable word with a stressed first syllable (though they could get away a word with one stressed syllable). If they did that, it would be acceptable to change the rhythm somewhat for "Starbucks coffee is anti-black."

3:25 PM, April 17, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not joining in that "our"

4:23 PM, April 17, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's okay, A. No one was looking for you.

4:51 PM, April 17, 2018  
Anonymous Eobard Thawne said...

I see your point. "A whole lot of" is unpleasant. "Racism" is a dactyl and not easy to fit into a catchy meter.

How about this?

"Grande racism, grancrap,
Starbucks coffee is anti-black!"

It still has the awful rhyme, but at least it has a catchy beat.

Of course, a demonstration needs several chants. Inspired by the title of your post, I am envisioning a chant that draws an analogy between ruining black coffee by adding cream or foamed milk and ruining black neighborhoods with gentrification. I'll get to work on this immediately. The whole world is watching.

10:57 PM, April 17, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Now you're getting the idea.

12:16 AM, April 18, 2018  
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