My Perfect Speech

Intro: In my essay I wanted to tell a story of my struggles with the way I speak. I´ve always been criticized by people for my voice sounding ¨ too white ¨ or ¨too black¨. I had to discover a voice for myself, I had to become comfortable with the way I speak. My essay talks about some of the setbacks and realizations I´ve had finding my voice. 

             “ Wild tongues can't be tamed they can only be cut out.”-  How to tame a wild tongue.

               Many times in my life I have been criticized for the way I speak. Either I speak ¨ too white¨ or  I speak ¨ too ghetto¨ which I assume means black. I never understood how one's speech could reflect their entire race, let alone an entire other race. All my life I have been trying to find a balance in my speech that made other people comfortable talking to me when I never focused on making myself comfortable with the way I speak.

 It all started in first grade, a very innocent time in my life. At that age, a child is very vulnerable and easily influenced so what I heard changed me forever.

¨ Deja talks W-H-I-T-E ¨

           This was coming from one of the teachers in my class. I went home and told my mom because I didn't know what that specifically  meant.

¨ Mom do I talk W-H-I-T-E? ¨ I asked her.

“ White?  You talk white Deja?” She asked

This is a moment that I believe really shaped my speech. It was the moment when I realized the clear difference in myself from other people in my race. I didn't know I was different until I was pointed out that I was. Being raised in Rhode Island took a heavy toll on me.My family and I were the only black members in the community so I wasn’t exposed to my black culture very much. The only people who were around me were white so that's the culture I had to cling on to for the time being. I was at a very impressionable age so the things I saw and heard, I mimicked which in time reflected on the way I spoke. I followed by the examples I had.

        I was ashamed after that. At the age of six  years old I already lost myself cultural wise. I knew at this point I would have to change. That somehow I would have to become somebody else in order to fit in with everyone else.

¨ You sound like such a hoodrat ¨

             Flashing forward eight  years to me at fourteen years old in eighth grade . It took eight years of me learning and growing into what I believed was my culture. I had evolved in my speech. I began to sound like everyone else around me. I no longer sounded “white”. I would mispronounce words and phrases  purposely to sound like what I thought at the time was cool. My friends and I didn't realize the way we were speaking was damaging our images. Now we sounded exactly how everyone expected us to. Loud and uneducated. This comment was made to me by a classmate as a joke but I didn´t take it that way. Once again, I was put in a position where I was questioning myself and my speech. I was reminded about the way I felt all those years ago after being told I ¨ talk white¨ now I talk ¨ too hood¨. I couldn´t win . “ I've never seen anything as strong or as stubborn”.- How to tame a wild tongue.

               There was a point in my life where I was ¨too white¨ for the black kids and ¨ too black ¨ for the white kids. I was stuck in the in between. I was lost and i didn't know how to be found. Eventually I found myself in my speech. I had to blend all the things I know and heard to create something new. It was a new me. I realized in order to be accepted by everyone you must first accept yourself. ¨ If you didn't grow up like I did then you don´t know and if you don´t know then it's probably better you don´t judge.¨ This quote is from the story Wildwood and it perfectly explains what I went through. I was constantly judged for the way I spoke by people who didn't understand why I spoke the way I spoke. They didn't know anything about where I come from or how I was raised. I feel like based on people's  judgements of me and me trying to fit it with everyone else I lost myself. I was so wrapped up in trying to become someone I wasn't I never got a chance to find out who I could be. In life it's either you're making others happy or making yourself happy. Now I choose myself.