Welcome to the Jungle
I remember it like it was yesterday.
"Wait, what you say?"
"I said I live right up the steet"
"You can't say your r's ? Hahaha"
I couldn't tell whether they were laughing with me, or just laughing at me. It was easier to laugh it off then to try and decode the situation. A small little space in my head realized that they were laughing at the dialect I was using, but I was too busy laughing at their so-called "language". I mean, who says "jawn"? That was bad enough. Instant superiority was established in my head when I heard my first taste of this alien language. Whenever someone spoke, I couldn't help but crack a little smile or start chuckling. Stares were always directed my way, which I accepted. Then one day, reality hit.
"Why you laughing at everybody?"
"Because, no one here can talk properly."
"But, you're the one that talks like a dumbass, not us."
The whole lunch talble erupted in laughter. The realization came crashing like a high-speed bullet train. I was the minority, not by my skin, but by my tongue. At that time, the only thing that made me different was tied in to a cowering knot in front of a crowd of pre-pubescent children. Two hours and about twelve more laughing fits from the kids and I was home, walking into. The kitchen of the two-floor Yeadon house. Steam arose from the stainless steel pots. Not even the smell of oven baked Mac and Cheese or brocolli and cheese could heighten my mood.
"Hey mom, why didn't you tell me people talked different? I've been getting laughed at all day." I sat down as she slid me a plate of food. I looked down at it and stopped resisting the temptation.
"Honey we all don't talk the same, that's only because we were raised in different places."
"You were born in New York too, why don't you talk the same as me?"
"Because I lived in Philly before child."
I went to sleep with a new realization that night. I talk differently to them because of where I was raised. Going back to school the next day should have been easier, but of course, it wasn't. The jeering hadn't died, but escalated. Kids gathered from East, West, North and South of the recess yard to hear the boy with the odd voice. They demandad entertainment in the form of foerign language, but I was way too prideful to bend to their will. Even the teachers that were on supervising duty worked their way in to the peculiar crowd to see what the ruckus was. I wonder what their thoughts were when they caught their first glimpse of the little boy sitting on concrete with the blankest face, staring at at least 20 people. What was I supposed to do? Hell, I was on the verge of crying. The whole scene was kind of overwhelming to a 60 pound, 2nd grade boy. I started feeling like Gloria Anzaldua in "From Borderline". In her story she said, "I grew up feeling ambivalent..." I didn't know whether I should accept my dialect in its own form of uniqueness, or seek help in making it blend in with the others. I pondered it everyday I walked into Ms.Johnson's class at Aldan Elementary School. That was only one of the things I had to think about over the course of my days. Besides giving up my dialect, I kept asking myself one question. How could kids my age be so inconsiderate? It's enough to laugh at someone once, but to do it repeatedly? It didn't really faze me though; I wasn't really an emotional kid. Weeks went by, yet I was still pondering. I was sitting at my table doing the "Grindin-Clipse" beat with my knuckles, when the teacher asked a question$
"Class, who can tell me the product of 2x2?
I didn't know when my response reflex got that fast, but I quickly shot my hand up and shouted "4!"
"Correct Nuri, 4 is the right answer."
I slumped back a little and awaited the laughter. To my surprise, none came. My friend Patrick walked over to me after class about it.
"I see you lost your accent" he said.
"What are you talking about?"
"You didn't know? Your accent is gone!"
I smiled widely on the outsidel, but I was rather ambiguous on the inside. I was happy because I knew that the reign of jokes was finally ending, but it felt like a part of me died. I mean, I was that language. We interwined, then nature came along and forced me to adapt to my new enviornment, like all mammals. That dialect was apart of my identity, as much as Jay-Z's grunts are to him, or Good Charlotte's lack of musical creativity is to them. My identity received a negative blow to it. I transformed from the laughing stick to another ordinary Yeadon kid with the change of a language. Whoever said language didn't make you different was, and still is, a liar.