Friday, February 13, 2015

"Why do you talk like that?"

A question I've been asked all my life. Ridiculed and teased for the way I speak. It is absolutely and utterly ridiculous that this is constantly brought up, even among adults.
'You talk White'. No, I don't, fool, because there is NO SUCH THING. I'm sick and tired of this idea that only a Brown or Black person speaks in slang and with an accent.

Even among the Deaf who sign have 'accents' because ASL (American Sign Language) is a complete language and what the North American Deaf sign will not be understood in Russian Sign Language. So it is with us Speaking.
Accent is constrained and constructed by environment, culture, social group and geographic region. The only people who no longer speak with an accent are the deceased. But I'm not here to go on a linguistic tangent. What I will say is this: that people who still expect a person to SOUND a certain way BECAUSE of SKIN COLOR in this day and age shows ignorance and we haven't moved past historical antiquity.

I have known White peers who speak as what our society would say 'sound Black' and Blacks who 'sound White'. What do these terms actually mean? Are you saying that as a Brown person, I should be unable to speak without slang, colloquialism, and drop letters from my words? Are you also saying that a White person, who has lived in a particular area, has peers who speak the same, comes from an ethnic background, that the individual should not sound a certain way?

If the folks that approach me can say such things without the historical implications of that statement, then we as a society are even less prepared to deal not only with our own diverse selves, but am unable to relate or show respect towards a greater global community. The world is not cut and dry. Our own neighborhoods, even if it appears as a homogenous demographic, are far more complex and complicated.

Before you ask the question to me or anyone else on the way we speak, remember what day and age we live in. Remember we were never in a cut-and-dry situation. Remember the world was NEVER Black and White.

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