“Don’t say the word jawn.”
“Why not, I hear Dad say it all the time.”
“I don’t want my son to sound ghetto.”
My mom told me this as I was having an average conversation with her. I was using the word jawn to describe an object in the room. I don’t really use a lot of slang when I talk, so I took offense when she told me that she doesn’t want me to sound ghetto. Every time I say something that she considers to be ghetto she will tell me, “Even though you live in the ghetto you don’t have to act ghetto.” It sounds like a tape recorder on replay.
“It’s not like I talk like this all the time.” I said.
“I don’t care, just don’t use that word.”
“Okay whatever you say woman.”
I walk away not really listening to my Mom’s advice because I know how to control my language around different types of people. I talk usually talk proper with my mom, but when I talk proper with my Dad’s side of the family it’s a whole different perspective. I was at my grandma’s house one day and I was having a conversation with my aunt she’s the complete opposite of proper, she doesn’t have a filter on anything that comes from her mouth. She speaks her mind no matter the consequences, which is an unsavory character trait.
“How’s school?”Aunt Maria asked.
“It’s going okay, I am just kind of stressed out because I have a lot of work to do. Other than that it’s fine.”
“You sound like a gringo.”
“This is just the way I talk.” I said.
I walked away thinking about what she said. If you don’t know what a “gringo” is, it’s a person who doesn’t know spanish but in this context she was using it as a way to say “you sound white.” This got me a little mad , I knew that I talked proper but being called a gringo was a punch to the gut. In order to not be called a gringo anymore, I tried speaking a little more slang and spanish around my family. A couple months later I was at my grandma’s house again and my grandma served me food.
“Gracias” I said.
“Denada” My grandma replied.
“Why do you say gracias like that?” My 10 year cousin teased.
“You say it funny.”
No matter how hard I try there is not a win-win with my Dad’s side of the family. That is why I like talking to my Mom’s side of the family more. I can talk about anything and in anyway I want to and not be judged by them. With my uncle I always talk about reptiles and game and not feel like an outcast in my own family.
“How is your bearded dragon doing.” My uncle asked
“He is doing well, I just bought him a new heating bulb the other day.”
“That’s cool, I just got my leopard gecko the other day.¨
“How big is it.”
“It is about 6 inches.”
If I talked like that with Dad’s side of the family, they will silently judge me and think that I’m weird. I forgive them though because that is the way they talk and I understand that me talking a certain can be really foreign to them. As J.K. Rowling said, “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” I forgive them for judging the way I talk and this will help me become better at being more attached to my roots. I want to fit with my family without abandoning who I am as a person.
In the end, it doesn’t what people think as long as you are comfortable with the way you talk. The only people you have to please is yourself and the people close to you. I am going to continue talking how I want to talk and you should too.