So what's the Difference?

How can you tell the difference?

“ Are you from Philadelphia?”

“Ugh.. Yeah.”

“Wow you sound so different than most people in the city,”

“ Its cool”

It’s pretty funny that I remember the first time someone actually asked me was I from Philly and that I had an accent . I was shocked at first but, then I was pleased to hear that I didn’t sound like everyone else in this city. I thought about it on the bus and from the bus stop to my house. When I got home, went upstairs to a mirror and over and over again, I said different words to myself and kinda comparing how I sound. I change the way I speak on purpose, like when I’m talking to a boy that I think likes me. I’ll change the tone of my voice and I’ll speak more proper. Some boys like it and some don’t.

My first day at SLA was totally different than what I was used to in my middle school. I had been at that same school for nine years , and I been with the same people since I first started going there. I was used to how they spoke , Puberty played a part in this, and had hit most of the people at Alliance For Progress Charter School. I couldn’t really tell the difference in the way they spoke from when we was in Kindergarten till 8th grade, and since Alliance was mostly full of black students, everyone there, I thought spoke the same.

When I came to SLA, I met many new people.  I noticed that everyone came from different backgrounds and spoke differently than what I was used to hearing. One person that I met, that spoke differently than most black boys that I know, is Kaamil Jones. The way he speaks is really astonishing. The sound of his voice is also leveled. When the halfway mark of freshman year started to come around, I used to think to myself that I was speaking wrong. To me everyone was speaking so nice and elegant and I was just another black girl that was from North Philadelphia where everyone was ghetto and wrong.

“Siani,? Are you sick or something?”

“No, Grandma, why would you say that?”

“You sound different, you sound so much more…proper.”

Wow, I could hear the excitement in her voice, and it made me think how do I sound when I am on the phone, and was this because of the connection or was my voice and the way I organized my words different than any other day? I was on the phone with my grandma coming home from school, and when she said that I sound different I was shocked to hear this from her, only because I never expected to hear that from someone that has known me since I was a baby. I said “Do I?”.  I don’t think that I sound any different on the phone than I do in person. It’s been said to me many times but I had a different feeling when my grandma said it, but like I said I change the tone and sometimes the mood of my voice and rearrange my words so that they make more sense. I think that I do this without even trying.

I’m not afraid to say where I’m from but I do like to cover up the way speak. Whenever I’m not at home or in my neighborhood, I pretend to be someone I’m not. I try harder and harder everyday to blend in with the students  at SLA but it’s a little out of my character. This is because, I am trying to be someone I’m not. Sometimes I feel really out of place here but I have to remember that the reason why I applied. I wanted to be different than everyone else.

I think there is much more to somebody than the way that they talk, because judging someone by the way they sound or the way they use English words is foolish. One of the biggest things that I learned here at SLA is that everyone isn’t going to be like you or the person that you are best friends with. SLA is the perfect school to go to and learn about how diverse the world is. Even the smallest things like having an accent or even using words that don’t even exist but are in your own personal dictionary are judged quicker than you know it.

Coming to SLA is a true blessing itself. It's projects like this that drive you to want to change society itself. Many people are made fun of because they don't sound like everyone else. Here at SLA its normal to be different, no one here is the same. Everyone here has different views. Different influences. Different understanding of everything that is presented to them, such as language and the effects that it has on the world.

“It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify,” James Baldwin.

Comments (3)

J'Lynn Matthews (Student 2018)
J'Lynn Matthews

Amen child, "Coming to SLA is a true blessing itself.". I strongly agree with you. A lot of people just view SLA as a "good" school with high standards, but people like us (you and me) can see what is truely behind that. I like how you said you met Kaamil and he spoke different than most of the black people you already know. I believe that many others had that exact feeling too when meeting new types of people at SLA. I also like how you gave factors that could effect the way that people speak, like puberty and commmunity. I love what you have wrote. Keep up the good work.

Nicholas Shaw (Student 2018)
Nicholas Shaw

I learned that you came from Alliance For Progress Charter School, which is in North Philly. The big understanding was that you change your language changes where you are, depending on whether your at home or at SLA. I liked that the essay related to yourself rather than just an over-arching message.