When I was in elementary school, I always wondered why people made fun of the way I spoke. They told me it was because I talked “white”. “What does talking “white” even mean I thought to myself?” The way I speak isn’t the way they were raised to When I asked my mom, I remember her telling me that it meant that I was educated and that I didn’t talk like a normal “black” person. I asked her “does that mean black people aren’t educated”? I knew that my mom was educated, she finished college and got her masters degree and she’s part black. So I knew that couldn’t be true. Most people in my family finished college. Whites still overruled blacks in education. In this society, that’s the way it appeared. More white’s finished college, or even went to college than blacks did. That’s the way it’s always been in America.
As I grew up, all I was told by my peers was that “you talk like a white girl”. I started playing soccer when I was nine or ten years old, and to my african american peers, that was a “white sport”. I listened to songs that were sung by people that were white also. That gave them a bigger reason to call me a white girl. To them, everything I did or said was “white”. They thought playing basketball was a “black sport” so I played to fit in with everyone else. I barely got any playing time, but being apart of the basketball team at my middle school was all I needed to make me seem black. Everything was categorized at my school before I came to high school. I learned to embrace the way I talked.
When I was in 8th grade, I was attending a dominantly african american school. There were less than five students that were of another race. All of the kids there barely spoke proper english. Most spoke broken english, even the teachers, principal and other staff members. Everyday in the school there was a physical fight or close to it. In a private school I thought, there wouldn’t be any fights. The closest thing to a fight would be a argument. I had never experienced that type of environment before. It was different for me because in my household, no one talks broken english, but soon I caught on to the way they talked at my school if I wanted to fit in. But when I was home or around family, I spoke the way i was taught to. Speaking differently than the way I was raised was discriminated against in my household. It was like either you speak the way you are supposed to, or don’t speak at all.
Most of the people I knew growing up stereotyped different races. Each race had a certain way of talking and doing things. My friends portrayed blacks as being loud and ghetto all of the time. In some cases to me, that is true. Despite me being part black, that’s not the way my family acts not that wasn’t the way they were raised. But that being said, the white part of family did act the way others stereotype them. They all spoke properly, ate crackers and cheese and other things along that line. Owned big fancy houses and cars. Had well paying jobs and spoiled children. But that never affected me because I live in a big fancy house, my family has nice cars and I am also spoiled. So to me it didn’t matter what color you are, it’s how you were raised to act. The people I grew up around definitely had a huge impact on me and they are part of the reason why I am who I am today.
I recently read an article on language by James Baldwin. In the article, he discussed how “black” english contributes to standard english and that black english plays a big part in how we all speak today. “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate.” - James Baldwin. In this quote, he is saying that in different places, people speak a certain way to fit in. You wouldn’t speak the same way you speak to your friends while you are in a workplace. People have to switch the way they talk to meet the criteria of certain situations or will be looked at differently.
People are always going to be discriminated and talked about by others who speak differently than they do. But if everyone talked the same, there would be no diversity among us. Every person would be looked at the same.
The way you talk in this world determines who you are to some people. To me, thats not how I think of others. You could be well educated and still speak broken english. Or you could be uneducated and speak better than someone with a college degree. The color of your skin, or even where you come from should determine your class.
In the world, the way you speak determines your place, only if you let it.
Here is the link to my video.