“Yo I wanna go somewhere like!!”
“Where you wanna go?” I said
“Idk where can we go?”
“Uh….Ight lets see. You can go bowlin’, skatin’, play double dutch, go shoppin’, watch a movie, take a breeze, or go find outha people to hang wit.” I said thinking.
“Man, you know I can’t bowl r skate. And you know well enough I don’t jump no rope dats too girly foe me. I don’t want to go shoppin’ or watch a movie. I don’t want to take a walk. So let’s go find Keem and B Ran and see if dey can come out.”
“Ard.” I said
I grew up in North Philly, where you heard cops sirens everyday and people arguing. Where you never heard anyone talk proper and if you did you would get jump. The area where all the boys was on the corner trying to make money for a living. Since living here I could never talk “proper”, everything that came out my mouth was slang. All day and night that’s what you heard. I did it so much that I couldn’t even get out of it. My parents even told me I needed to learn to speak right because they couldn’t figure out what I was saying. They told me that I would need to fix the way I speak before I went to high school interviews.
“Why do you feel as though you’ll be a good influence into coming into Franklin Learning Center?”
“I would be a good influence into coming into Franklin Learning Center because I am supportive, helpful, and I’m excellent when it comes to doing my work and paying attention.” I said proudly.
“And what would you bring to this school?”
“I would bring my intelligence, my artistic skills, and my manners everyday no matter what. And I would never bring my problems to the school property.” I responded.
“Okay, very nice it was good speaking to you.”
“You too.” I said
It took me a while to learn how to speak proper but I finally did. I would only speak that way if I was interviewing somewhere or being nice or even talking to my the adults in my family. This became a problem to me one day because I was so used to speaking proper that I started using it around my friends. When they heard me talk they kept asking me why was I talking the way I was. I didn’t know what they were talking about at first because I didn’t realize how I was talking to them. After finally noticing, I told them what was up and about what my parents said. They told me that I had changed, that I was talking white and that it was creeping them out. They also told me that I was trying to be better than them now that I’m going to high school. I didn’t know what to do because how would I remember to keep switching up the way I talk when I’m around them. And after thinking about it I was kind of mad that they said I talked white and that I had changed, just because I talked different from them now in a more proper tone, I’m considered different. I’m the same person that they knew before but just talk a little bit better. So now every time I see them they would say “Do you still talk like a white girl?” I don’t respond to them when they say stuff like that so they would think that I still do.
After thinking about it some more I came to realize something. Were they right? Did I change? Was I not that North Philly girl who talked nothing but slang? Was talking proper make me better than them? I started to frown upon the thoughts. I went to my mom to see what she thought.
“Mom do I talk white?”
“What do you mean do you talk white?”
“Like do I sound white…proper white?”
“No you just sound proper. There’s no such thing of proper white. Why you ask?”
“Because my friends said I sound white when I talk. And that I’m trying to be better than them since I changed the way I talk. So now I’m trying to switch up the way I talk every time I’m ‘round dem cuz dey gonna keep makin fun of me. And I don’t know what to do. I’m just tryin to be me and I can’t help it if I talk dis way now. I’m not tryin to be betta den ‘em I’m not. Man, IDK!!” I said sadly.
“Well it look like it to me that you got your language back again. But don’t worry about what they say. They are just jealous that you are going somewhere and they not. And heck you just may be better than them if you keep up the work that you’re doing. They’re mad because they have to work on the corners to get money since they can’t keep a job when you’re going to be the owner of a job. So forget what they say just be you and do what you think is comfortable for you.”
Ever since then I kept the words in my mind of what my mom had said. My friends got mad after telling them what my mom said and that I agreed with it but I didn’t care they wasn’t true friends anyway. I don’t worry about what people think or say about the way I talk or sound. If they don’t like, tough luck because I do. Yeah I may switch up the way I talk sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident, but it doesn’t bother me. Language can either bring you to the top of the world or it can tear you down depending on what and whom you are dealing with. Like me, the way I speak at interviews are going to take me places since I sound professional but that same voice was going to ruin my relationships with certain people.
In the essay called “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose it says, “I just want to be average.’ That woke me up. Average? Who wants to be average?” This quote from the story spoke to me a lot because people don’t think about what they really want when they say certain stuff. They always think that being on top is always good and the best but it’s not. You don’t always have to be greedy and be on top, you can just be in the middle and have a piece of everything. I knew so many people like this and I used to be one of them. All I ever wanted to be was on top, I didn’t want to be average; I wanted to be better and more popular than everyone. But now I just want to be and do me. Being average is the best way to go for me. You’re not in the higher class where everyone knows who you are and every step you make, but you’re also not in the lower last class where you would die for attention and to be popular. To me being average is the key to my life; I can fit into any group whether it’s with people who talk slang or with people who talk professional. And being average brought me so far and I don’t plan into letting it go.