Friday, March 20, 2009

She talks like a First Lady.


"I remember there were kids around my [Chicago] neighborhood who would say, 'Ooh, you talk funny. You talk like a white girl.' I heard that growing up my whole life. I was like, 'I don't even know what that means but I am still getting my A.'"

That's my First Lady continuing her effort to reach out to children of color in D.C., while addressing some children in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the District.


Now a few thoughts about this "talk like a white girl" phenomenon: First, there is no such thing. Either you speak clearly or you don't. When I am in Southern Louisiana I still struggle to understand what folks (black and white) are saying. You folks in Baaastan talk funny to me, too. And so do some of you New Yawkers. In fact, right here in Philly your accent might be different depending on which neighborhood you are from. I can always tell a South Philly accent (they say youze a lot), and a black person from Mt. Airy sounds different from a black person from West Philly. An Irishman from the Northeast? I am all over that as well. Mrs. Field says I talk funny because my Jamaican accent always creeps into my diction. Mrs. Field would have probably been teased a lot in Michelle Obama's neighborhood as well. Mrs. Field was born and raised in South Louisiana, but she managed to craft a very generic accent. It's always fun to see the reaction we get when Mrs. Field makes arrangements over the phone and the people see us in person. Yes, may I help you? I am Mrs. Field, we spoke over the phone. We did? Oh, yes, of course....

Anyway, my point is, people have accents, and we all speak in different ways. The important thing is that we speak well, and in a way that can be clearly understood by whoever is listening to us. Now unfortunately, some of my cousins, well.....it's almost like they don't want the person listening to understand. Unless you are in on the secret slang, you don't deserve to understand what the speaker is saying. For some of us, it's our own way of communicating that might as well be a totally different language. When our children grow up speaking like this it's tough to get them out of it. And damn it, the shit can be embarrassing when they reach adulthood. If I have to strain to understand the conductor on the train, or the person taking my order at the fast food restaurant, that's a problem. Especially when they are supposed to be speaking English. I am not talking about an accent here, I am talking about putting words together that just don't belong. Just what the hell does, you be done messed up, mean? YOU. BE. DONE. MESSED. UP. That is not English, that is some kind of ghetto Morse code that will get you nowhere in school.

Thank you first lady Obama for at least addressing this issue. The kids were wrong of course. It's not speaking "white", it's speaking properly. And it's speaking in a way that can make it easier for them to succeed in school, and ultimately in life.





85 comments:

Jody said...

I am so very pleased that she is putting a vegetable garden on the white house grounds. That is an awesome example of healthy, sustainable living. We can all grow a little of our own food (or alot depending on the space you have to grow something). And, she is doing it with school kids and making it an organic garden.... She is a marvelous first lady!

Kim said...

I got that all the time and still now to this day and I'm 40...I never found it to be an insult how I spoke so it never bothered me one way or the other. I absolutely love Michelle Obama. She is really reinventing that first lady role and doing a d@mn good job. I like how they open the White House up to the people.

BlaqueHonesty said...

I received the same remarks that our First Lady received while in school too. I still get them from time to time, but mostly from my naturally tan friends. Those who are not naturally tan (and are not a friend to me), say that "you speak very well." I am not sure how else they expect me to talk. Apparently it is still a shocker to some that I grew up in the south because I lack a southern accent according to some. The funny thing is that I grew up in the country. Today, my professors and others around me are shocked to hear that truth. What can I say? Everybody speaks like a "white girl" in my house; my friends do too.

Anyway, glad to see that she is reaching out to children of color. I know of a number of people who can get semi close to where she is in life and forget their own.

browngrl77 said...

Mrs. Obama grew up on the southside and today visited a highschool in s.e. washington...she will never forget where she came from, and that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

That was sort of interesting, Field. The cajuns and afican americans don't just differ in grammer and dialect though. Both still use words not in use anyone else in america. I don't think it's as much an issue now but it certainly was 20 years ago.

Off topic.. I went to a Wendy's in Chicago and the girls openly mocked the way people talked when they placed their order. Nice....

szpork

glory_ten@hotmail.com said...

I speak very well. And like the President, my manner of speaking changes depending on my audience. I have a phone and office voice that I imagine is like Mrs. Field's. On the other hand, when I am with friends, I speak as the Romans speak, and very fluently. English was my first language, thanks to my parents. "Ghetto Morse Code" was my second, which is why I'm happy to offer my services, Field.

"You be done messed up" means: You will have made a mistake. Since I'm laid off right now, any further translations you may need will only be available for a negotiable fee.

Now, I wouldn't say that in a setting that has anything to do with my cash. But I totally see myself dropping that line in conversation with a friend.

I agree that it's easier for all involved when English is your first language. Judging by some folks I know, when "Ghetto Morse Code" comes first, English is harder to acquire. Perhaps some of our cousins should be in ESL, English as a Second Language classes along with the children of immigrants.

Anonymous said...

My thought is this. English is a beautiful language when spoken well. I hate this talking white shit. For one, being white is nothing to aspire to and I can attest because I've seen them barely able to spell or read. Black folks need to get off this issh about speaking white and celebrating ignorance.

Anonymous said...

The First Lady is very smart, she is speaking directly to our AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUNG PEOPLE, she is using a pattern, first she invited young AFRICAN AMERICAN children to the WHITE HOUSE last month and told them to "never forget their history" that was a bold move for a AFRICAN AMERICAN FIRST LADY, and she did it in the WHITE HOUSE!

The First Lady made it a point to tell AFRICAN AMERICAN children to learn to speak, just as well as a highly educated white person, then she plant's a vegetable garden on the side of the WHITE HOUSE lawn, these are survivor skill's, I wonder if the SLAVE'S, that BUILD the WHITE HOUSE, had a VEGETABLE GARDEN on the premise's of the WHITE HOUSE?

Anonymous said...

FIELD NEGRO, you missed it once again! MICHELLE OBAMA is all in the WHITE MAN'S face!! and she is saying "how you like me now" don't forget what CHURCH she came out of!!!

Bob said...

I used to deal with this when I taught poetry & creative writing in public schools. It was very difficult to get across the concept of dialect. I'd use Langston Hughes or Gwendolyn Brooks, get an earful about hip hop being so real, & have to point out that it surely is, but some of the biggest rap stars they think are straight from the hood are prep school & college educated, & even Tupac could have quoted Shakespeare. The more you learn about language, the more you can do with it.

StillaPanther2 said...

Brother Field..In reading "Jet" magazine from the days of my youth, African Americans had the same issues (poverty,negative behaviors and thoughts) then as well as now. Mrs. Obama addressed an issue that African Americans must now address and that, seems to me, is a fear of the outcome if they love themselves first. A previous commentor alluded to the concept that the whites are placed on a pedestal. You know and I know that they are no smarter or brighter than anyone who would apply themself to the tasks of academics and personal behavior. This false mindset gets installed in the mindset of our youth at an early age. We encouraged our children at an early age that you are the "best" and it has been productive for them. Don't expect the dominate race to provide for this change in our youths' thinking, especially when our faulty thinking has provided so much riches for their organization. Look at the NCAA and ESPN. If the AA youth would strike for their share of this billion dollar enterprise. I think the young people got to see some consistant wins by people that look like them before this mindset is changed. My family always competed,it shows with our offsprings. The main point I would like to leave with is to STOP depending on someone else to give your offspring BASIC knowledge. I thank Mrs. Obama.. but this is a 365 project with your children. I want and expect my children to exceed me in all life's tasks, do you think some 'third party" wants the same ? If African Americans are not up to the task...then encourage them to be non-fertile. Sorry Brother Field.. I am soo tired of see people like me having to have government and others take care of them. Well at least it was a Black face, (Mrs.O) giving life's lessons : I have seen a lifetime of whites teaching, giving to our children. 50+ years: No Change.

field negro said...

"This false mindset gets installed in the mindset of our youth at an early age. We encouraged our children at an early age that you are the "best" and it has been productive for them. Don't expect the dominate race to provide for this change in our youths' thinking, especially when our faulty thinking has provided so much riches for their organization."

"...get an earful about hip hop being so real, & have to point out that it surely is, but some of the biggest rap stars they think are straight from the hood are prep school & college educated, & even Tupac could have quoted Shakespeare. The more you learn about language, the more you can do with it."

Wow, two great comments from two great regulars from the fields; and I co-sign with both of those points.

glory_ten...thanks for the translation, but no check for you. Judging from your comments you won't be unemployed for long. :)

kim, is that you in the pic? And did you say you were 40? Wow! Girl, I bet you would still get carded if you went to a club.:)

Blinders Off said...

I know exactly how Michelle Obama felt and were she is coming from. There is nothing non-black about talking properly and hitting your books. I am glad she is addressing, "You talk like a white girl" because that is a considered a put down statement when you attend a school that is majority black.

BTW: That statement continues in schools today…each one of my girls was told that during their elementary and high school years.

Christopher said...

Michelle Obama is a breath of fresh air.

She's smart, pretty, stylish and poised and she hits all the right notes with her audience.

Plus, she seems accessible. Quite the opposite from the country simple Pickles Bush, who never really came clean about running over and killing her high school boyfriend because the bitch was in a hurry to get home to watch Dark Shadows.

Kia said...

I'm often told that I don't sound like I'm from Brooklyn. I usually respond that my parents raised me not my neighbors. We're black and my mom wasn't tolerating anything that was going to hinder my communication with the world at large. Not the youze of my white classmates or the y'alls of our black neighbors.

The "she act white", "she talk white" accusations sometimes hurt but I was taught that they were illogical and to go on about my business.

I'm so glad Michelle Obama has a national platform to give the same sound advice.

Cheron L. Hall said...

"I don't be got no weapoooooooooon" -Hollywood Shuffle

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Now when black kid is hit with the "you talk white" putdown he or she can answer, "You mean like the President of the United States?"

I personally would add a STFU to that but that is not very good english.

field negro said...

"Now when black kid is hit with the "you talk white" putdown he or she can answer, "You mean like the President of the United States?""

That might be the best reason to have a black Prez.

Cheron, now you done went and reminded me of a classic. ("Ho cakes") I might have to look for that bad boy in the Video store today. :)

Anonymous said...

read to your kids, speak well. it seems condesending to me. szpork

Anonymous said...

Good for her! I remember a kid in high school telling me that I spoke like Clark Kent (of Superman fame). I was unclear as to whether he was insulting me or not because I didn't think that was such a bad thing. Whatever! I'm a lawyer now and the last time I saw him, he was stocking shelves in K-Mart. Up, up and awaaay!!! LOL!

Anonymous said...

We all up in this jawn today.

momo said...

I remember when folks were begging past presidents to set an example by planting an organic garden at the White House, and now Michelle Obama takes it one step further. She doesn't have the staff plant it, she invites the kids in, and plants it with them. I feel proud of who is living in the White House for the very first time in my life!

Anonymous said...

The whole talking white non sense is a another reason the black community is in such horrible shape. Other ethnic groups are busy staking and claim and African Americans are still debating if speaking proper English is too white?

"Now when black kid is hit with the "you talk white" putdown he or she can answer, "You mean like the President of the United States?""

Of course he talks white: He was raised by white people!

Soapbubble said...

I'm a member of the US Air Force and one thing I've noticed among black children who grow up in DoD schools is that they speak proper English and they have NO accent whatsoever. Sometimes you can't even tell if they're black, white or Asian and I think it's great. That way when they grow up and speak to someone on the phone, they don't who it is on the line. ;-)

Kathy said...

I grew up in a poor, white, single mother-led home in a working class town in Western New York, and we definitely had our own slang and cuss words and ways of speaking that were not standard English ("I ain't got none", the "f" word was used almost as often as the word "and" etc.).

And we were very, uh, expressive, direct, and often LOUD (marginalized people often compensate for being rendered voiceless by poverty, discrimination, racism, etc. by being loud, IMHO), but taught to be generous, friendly and good-hearted to a fault, that we are our brother's keeper and the golden rule was the only rule. (Why is it often the people with the least the most generous? But I digress.)

But my mother also taught me that in public I had to drop it, if I was to escape her circumstances. I learned the hard way that in applying for jobs, succeeding in school, etc., I had to keep it tightly checked, but I still revert to the slang and trash talk I grew up with (because it is such an intrinsic part of my identity, and can't let go of it completely). It's almost a defiance thing, even if not in my best interest - against the discrimination and condescension I faced and continue to face from people who have had class privileges from birth. Funny enough, it has also allowed me to communicate and bond with people not only in my everyday interactions in my very diverse neighborhood in West Philly, but wherever I have lived and visited in the world (29 countries!). I have thought of this often, so thanks for letting me express it.

That said, we have to teach ALL our kids that public speech and good writing skills can really make the difference between flipping burgers and being a lawyer like Mr. Field. Unfortunately, no matter how smart you are, if you sound ignorant or don't care to use proper grammar or spelling on your job application, people are going to judge you, and not favorably. That is just the reality, and we don't do our kids any service by ignoring it.

As to the language used at home or on the playground, I don't think it is such a big deal, as long as kids are taught good oral and written communications skills in school (which many are not), and make sure they practice them when appropriate. It's not a matter of speaking white (like Mr. Field said - and I am an example of it - white people can be equally less-than- Shakespearean in speaking and writing English). It's a matter of survival, and that has to be drummed into our kids' heads, especially when the competition in the job market is now fiercer than ever. One spelling error on your resume, and you're doomed, even if you have an IQ of 180, and would do the best job over any other candidate. Having been underemployed for 13 months now (Hey, where's MY bailout?), I am constantly scrutinizing both my speech in interviews and in my written applications.

RiPPa said...

"'scuse me suhh, I ain't be got no weapon..."

I'm sorry but I had to get that one out after reading this. I have an ongoing dream or fantasy where I say that to a cop after being pulled over.

Good post and great points made there Mr. Negro. As recent as 5yrs ago, I made the mistake of moving to Pensacola Florida from up north without my "Southern Negro to English" dictionary and I felt like I was in a foreign country.

Yep, the constant questioning of "you ain't frum 'round hea, is you.." everytime I spoke in public places got to be a little bit tiresome, but I survived. So now I'm living in Memphis, and though its not much like the deep deep south, I still get the occasional "you shole do talk funny" look. I never thought it had anything to do with me speaking the queens english. I always thought it was the mixture of my Trini/Brooklyn accent that threw them off.

Kathy said...

UGH. That last sentence should have read: "...scrutinizing both my speech in interviews and my grammar and spelling in written applications."

Point is, in most cases you don't get a second chance if you make mistakes like this.

Anonymous said...

Field thank you for posting this. Funny all the trivial hoopla over Michelle; but her encouragement to a group of Black kids is not on the mainstream radar. And I'm glad that she said "i don't know what that means', as if to say she has never adhered to the belief that White is right. Love Michelle Obama.

Like everyone else here I heard the you talk white so often growing up-when I joined the French club in high school a bunch of chickenheads in homeroom class decided they were going to kick my butt after school for thinking i was cute. All of them now are probably part of some ugly statistic of their own doing. I live in NYC, and every day I hear Black kids who are unable to put two proper sentences together, and it annoys me to no end. There is no excuse for celebrating ignorance, as one of your previous posters mentioned.

AnnKura said...

When someone (us) tells me I speak like a white person I tell them to bite their tongue and that they are insulting me. I explain that most white ppl I know don't speak as well as I do. In fact a lot of them sound like they grew up in a trailer park! (my view) My husband is from MS and although a bit of the country can sneak in, he gets the same comments also. We both feel that to a certain degree accents and slang can make you sound ignorant. Speaking with a 'non accent' and with well constructed sentences is an ability anyone can learn and I implore all to pick up the talent.

bumpster said...

Students need to know that the language of education, success, and money is not a Jim Crow drinking fountain.

Mrs. Chili said...

I teach English in a relatively affluent (and relatively white) part of New England. I'm astounded by how poor my students' grammar is (both spoken AND written). Somehow, it's become uncool for ANYONE, white or black, to sound like they know what they're talking about. Sigh.

Mrs. C said...

@Kathy--girl, i think we grew up in the same neighborhood in the same Western New York village--and if we didn't, we sure grew up in the same head-space!

Mrs. C said...

Oh, and Mrs. Chili, it seems you and I share the same current circumstances...and how they roll their eyes at us when we try to tell 'em, right?

Anonymous said...

On "This American Life )link here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1262 ) there was an amazing segment on the rewards of language development in young children. Geoffrey Canada has a book about his system, which will soon have the first full "graduates" reaching the third grade testing point. The children who started later have already tested, and still did much better than than peers whose parents did not attend. The hard part of it all is that it writes off the parents. However, most parents go through with the training as they love their children and want them to have a better life. A description of the segment is as follows:

Act One. Harlem Renaissance. Paul Tough reports on the Harlem Children’s Zone, and its CEO and president, Geoffrey Canada. Among the project’s many facets is Baby College, an 8-week program where young parents and parents-to-be learn how to help their children get the education they need to be successful. Tough’s just-published book about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem's Children Zone is called Whatever It Takes. You can see a slideshow of more photographs from the project here. (30 and 1⁄2 minutes)

I found your site through a pottery blog a few weeks ago, and find it thought-provoking. I grew up in Atlanta, attending a mixed elementary school; and by mixed I mean white, African American, Chinese, German, French, poor, middle, lower, upper class, new from the country and city-born. The teachers made sure everyone spoke properly. I never adjusted when I transferred to a almost completely segregated high school; though white, it just felt sterile. And those kids didn't have the vocabulary I had learned in elementary school. Living now in NOLA I've found a neighborhood similar to that elementary school, and it is a cocoon of friends and love. Thank you for your perspectives.

Anonymous said...

This whole "You talk white" shit is as bad as the "Good Hair" "Bad Hair" crap that African Americans can't let go of (it's hair and god gave it to you so, it's all good!) But regarding this white talk, first of all our national language is English. And I refuse to give "white folks" credit for being the only ones who know how to speak the language of our country properly. No one speaks perfect English (not even white folks). But Black folks have been in this damn country long enough to speak much better English than the crap that I hear coming out of their mouthes. To make matters even worse, some African American teachers speak poorly too, and therefore can't correct their own students in the classroom. Black folks do a great job of keeping themselves down...and a laughing stock. Between the do rags, the baggy pants and the ebonics white folks never have to worry about black folks competing for jobs.

Anonymous said...

Field,

Henry Kissinger doesn't sound like Prince Charles, Mayor Daley of Chicago, like his father speaks a low prestige, working class dialect, and George W. Bush never saw a malopropism he didn't like. Never stopped them. You're in Philly; surely you've read you some Labov.

flying fish said...

I don't think I could be any whiter, but I have been told "you speak English very well for having lived in Alaska for so long..."

I'm thrilled that Michelle Obama is helping the people who need it no matter what color they are. A vegetable garden at the white house? Perfect, leading by example is the best way to get the message across.

La♥Incognita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Henry Kissinger doesn't sound like Prince Charles, Mayor Daley of Chicago, like his father speaks a low prestige, working class dialect, and George W. Bush never saw a malopropism he didn't like. Never stopped them..."
Duuhhhh...Hey Anonymous you forgot one thing. Those individuals you mentioned are white They forgive each other for their treaspasses. They're not that forgiving when it comes to black folks. What country did you grow up in?

Anonymous said...

How Blacks Have Destroyed The English Language:
"Is you going?"
"Yes I'm is."
"What is you doing right now?"
"I'm eating some fish and 'scrimp'"
"That's mineS, where is yours?"
"She be laughing."
"No you d'int."
"Where my mom?"
"She in the kitchen."
"You lookdid nice yesterday."
"She always walk home."
"He talk to his mother last Friday."

"I finally got a credic card."
"I gotta go to the bafroom."
"Do you have a liberry card?"
...and the list is endless.

myblackfriendsays said...

Interesting--we both talk about the same topic, made some of the same points, but came to a different conclusion. I would love it if you'd read my post on the matter and let me know what you think (:

http://tinyurl.com/c4kwv3

Anonymous said...

"Those individuals you mentioned are white They forgive each other for their treaspasses. They're not that forgiving when it comes to black folks."

That's exactly my point,though. Language bias isn't about language; it's about bias. The problem with "You be done messed up" is not that it's not understood by an English speaking American; it's that it's recognized as a dialect spoken by black folks.

If and when those children can envision themselves being part of the community that speaks Standard English, they'll learn it. The language is the easy part.

Black Rose said...

Wouldn't it be refreshing if we had a melding of all dialects?

Of course the "Queen's English" is spoken poorly in the U.S., but how about the radical concept of scrubbing off the inherent shame that comes with speaking "blackspeak" as well as "talking white"?

It would be novel if both were elevated and recognized as legitimate without the necessity of labeling one as ignorant or less than desirable.

In the quest for white acceptance let's not forget a code that gave such a rich tapestry to Black heritage as the Scots, Irish and others do when they "speak American" incorrectly or with a brogue,etc.

True equality is not homogenization, but in fact celebrating the beauty in how the language came to be.

Assimilation causes cultures to die. With the advent of post racial America in the collective mindset of white America, it might be useful to give pause to the notion that walking in lockstep with those who choose to denigrate in order to appease them and gain a modicum of acceptance might not be such a good idea.

Most Blacks, who speak American well , "talk white" also are capable of "blackspeak". The ability to talk to those who may not be as educated or who may choose to continue the language should not be separated from those who speak the "whitespeak" of the masses.

Our history tells us this is one of many ways we were dehumanized and divided from within.

Thought provoking as always.

In The Field,
Black Rose

RiPPa said...

"Of course the "Queen's English" is spoken poorly in the U.S., but how about the radical concept of scrubbing off the inherent shame that comes with speaking "blackspeak" as well as "talking white"?

It would be novel if both were elevated and recognized as legitimate without the necessity of labeling one as ignorant or less than desirable." - Black Rose


There it is tight there! Well said!

The one thing to note, especially or those who are well versed in speaking the "Queen's English": Here in America, the same English we speak as the Queen, is written and spelled differently.

I learned this as a child having been educated in the West Indies and then migrating to America with my parents. To this day I still communicate with relatives who unlike me migrated to England. And you know what? They sure don't sound American and they damn sure don't spell American either.

So the question is...

is it truly a matter of education or is it cultural acceptance?

RiPPa said...

Anonymous said...

How Blacks Have Destroyed The English Language:
"Is you going?"
"Yes I'm is."
"What is you doing right now?"
"I'm eating some fish and 'scrimp'"
"That's mineS, where is yours?"
"She be laughing."
"No you d'int."
"Where my mom?"
"She in the kitchen."
"You lookdid nice yesterday."
"She always walk home."
"He talk to his mother last Friday."

"I finally got a credic card."
"I gotta go to the bafroom."
"Do you have a liberry card?"
...and the list is endless.

12:19 AM

======================

Umm, why is this an example of "Blacks" destroying the English language when I personally know of White's who speak not much differently.

Kim said...

Yup that's me.. Can't take credit for what the melanin gods have done.. "black don't crack" :-)

Hathor said...

RIPPa,

I guess anonymous hasn't heard anyone from Appalachia either.

Anonymous said...

If you want to retain the authentic ghetto voice, do not be surprised if you remain there.

Being well-spoken is the hallmark of an educated and organized mind. It takes effort and desire. Speaking 'trash' is easier.

Every area has dialect. Duh.

Mold

Marcy said...

Mad props to you, Field, for giving our First Lady props.

I'm so sick and tired of Black folks dissing each other -especially those of us who have worked hard to make something of our lives. If that is "acting White", they need to get a life. And learn how to speak in a manner that allows them to attain more. Talking like a gansta rapper isn't going to make that happen.

Denise said...

Michelle Obama = good education + humility.

What an inspiring breath of fresh air! Thank you, Michelle!!!

Larraine said...

Every time either of the Obamas speak, it's a breath of fresh air. My husband and I are both white, baby boomers who happily voted for Obama. I love the fact that Mrs. Obama planted a garden. I love the fact that she talks squarely to kids who are often accused of "acting white." My parents were both born and raised in South Philadelphia. When they spoke to friends or strangers they sounded different than when talked to family and close friends from the old neighborhood. Mom could put on a strong South Philly accent. However, I have to take exception to the "youse" thing. Nobody in my family uses it. One of my coworkers here in Maryland was from North Philadelphia and used "youse" with abandon! My husband and I have never totally lost our Philly accents although they were moderated when we lived in Germany. I still remember living in Kansas for six LONG months. Someone said to me "You talk funny. Where are you from?" "Philadelphia," I replied. "Philadelphia," she exclaimed. Then she went on to say,"I was East once. I went to Missouri." (With a straight face!)

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that slavery is long over. When we were uneducated slaves, we spoke as uneducated slaves. When you know better, your supposed to do better! Starting with the English language.

While ignorant black folks continue to make excuses and debate with each other and look for ways to accept this "garbage" way of speaking the longer it's going to take for black folks to get on track.

Wake up folks...the bottom line is SPEAK THE KING'S ENGLISH. Reading, writing and grammar is still part of education last time I checked. Stop being stupid about this. Blacks are still pegged as a race of people that can't speak, can't write and don't READ.

RiPPa said...

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that slavery is long over. When we were uneducated slaves, we spoke as uneducated slaves. When you know better, your supposed to do better! Starting with the English language.

While ignorant black folks continue to make excuses and debate with each other and look for ways to accept this "garbage" way of speaking the longer it's going to take for black folks to get on track.

Wake up folks...the bottom line is SPEAK THE KING'S ENGLISH. Reading, writing and grammar is still part of education last time I checked. Stop being stupid about this. Blacks are still pegged as a race of people that can't speak, can't write and don't READ.
8:26 PM

=======

I'm sorry, but the way Black people speak or choose to speak has very little to do with the intentional design of White Supremacy. The way Black people speak or choose to speak - educated or not - has nothing to do with the disproportionate rates of incarceration directly, the gap in income and or access to quality healthcare etc. etc.

I'm just sayin'...

dalit said...

Oh ok, she crafted a "generic" accent, so she's alright... What the hell does that mean?! Did god come down and say which version of English was correct? Hate to break it to you, but I don't care who you are, you have an accent. Up north and down south, black and white, all have accents. There is no generic accent. If there was, it wouldn't be the American one. I don't understand why, if I don't pronounce "WATER" as "WARRER" the way folks here in Wisconsin do it they tell me I have an accent. It's Water. Watt. Terr. I can accept that you say "warrer", so you damn well better accept my water. There is no generic accent. Okay? 'Kay? Good.

pluky said...

Having an identifiable lilt to ones vowels, a cadence to the syllables that carries a beat, and an idiomatic bag filled with unusual turns of phrase is nothing of which one need be ashamed. Mangled grammar, unclear enunciation, limited vocabulary (especially if largely limited to vulgarities), and vapid content on the other hand . . .

Geneva Girl said...

I have a friend who was literally a rocket scientist; he has a Ph.D. in some kind of obscure engineering. Around black folks and, sadly, his kids, he butchers the English language When I called him on it, he said, "So you want me to talk white?" When he saw the look on my face, he was smart enough to take a giant step backwards. "No," I said, as calmly as I could, "I want you to talk like the educated man you are!"

There is no such thing as talking white or black. You either speak as if you've had some education and home schooling or you haven't.

I have to laugh at your comment about Mrs. Field. My husband is also from Jamaica and he gets comments from friends who've spoken to me only on the phone, "I didn't know your wife was white." I tell him to take those a-holes off the Christmas card list. Pardon me for talking like I have some sense!

La♥Incognita said...

"My husband is also from Jamaica and he gets comments from friends who've spoken to me only on the phone, "I didn't know your wife was white." I tell him to take those a-holes off the Christmas card list.'

So why must they get taken off the little card list for something as simple as that? I'm just trying to find the 'sense' in that comment.

uptownsteve said...

This "talking white" crapola really gets my goat.

Field is right.

Go down to Louisiana or Alabama and you won't be able to understand anybody white or black.

You ever been to the Shepherdstown area of Baltimore?

White folks over talk like they have a mouth full of marbles.


Speaking properly is not speaking "white".

Sharon from WI said...

I don't understand how some people think that speaking like an idiot is somehow "keeping it real."

My girls, when teenagers, were teased in high school about the way they talked. I told them to tell these girls that the idea that being black means you sound like an idiot is insulting.

And people like this don't even know their own history.

There were former slaves who couldn't even spell the word "college," and the first chance they had, they opened schools for their kids.

Sharon from WI said...

True Story: A few years ago, I called Sprint customer service. I was on the phone with a presumably white male living on the US mainland. He was feverishly assisting me with an issue, then he tried to make chatter by asking me... "how is the weather down there in the Islands.... how do you like living among those people"? :(<<

What was your response to that question?

RisingTide said...

African American Vernacular English is NOT wrong.
Some ignorant fools believe that it is, but that's their problem.
Developing some flexibility in how you talk is always a good idea.

Sharon from WI said...

African American Vernacular English is NOT wrong.
Some ignorant fools believe that it is, but that's their problem.
Developing some flexibility in how you talk is always a good idea.


I notice that you expressed yourself quite effectively, although I disagree with your defense of poor English (and no, I'm not talking about African American Vernacular and have no problems with "being flexible.")

The thing is, the terrible verbal expression usually translates into an inability to write coherently.

I work in an office where a couple of co-workers sound if someone just freed their behinds. "It don't make no sense," "Who do you think you is?" etc.

One woman who attends a technical college in our community is always begging people to do her homework for her.

Small wonder, since her essays are spiked with the failure to tell the difference between two, too and to...and let's not even talk about noun-verb agreement.

She fails to understand that she's not doing herself any favors by refusing to learn the lesson at hand and doing her own work.

And it is her poor verbal skills that go hand-in-hand with the writing skills that would make an eighth grader cry.

Anonymous said...

Tammy Bruce Calls The Obamas "Trash In The White House"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/23/tammy-bruce-calls-the-oba_n_178109.html

Listen to the audio except. I know I'm stating the obvious, but, yeah, this woman doesn't know any black people. Even Michael Steele knows what the hell Michelle Obama is talking about. Actually, the Michael Steele's, the Bryant Gumbel's, the Wayne Brady's, etc. of the world would especially be able to relate to what Michelle was saying, because, unless they lived in lily-white neighborhoods, they would be the prime targets of epithets like "oreo", "uncle tom", "sell out", etc.

Anonymous said...

Two Harvard law grads, one POTUS, one FLOTUS, still get called trash. What's the old joke, "What do they call a black person with a Ph.D?" Looks like the answer is still the same after all these years. And not even mastery of Standard English changes that. Sad, but true.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

The way I see it, is two goats bumping heads and the hurt feelings of both of them. One goat speaks proper and their feelings are hurt because the other goat tells them they sound white. The other goat does not speak proper and their feelings are hurt because the other goat calls them ignorant and dumb.

Looks like to me, they should both try to accept and embrace each other for who they are as an individual and as one of their own people instead of attacking one another and making fun of each other. However, I know that won't happen because they've both got too much pride to do that.

RisingTide said...

Sharon,
ain't never been nothing wrong with double or triple negatives, or how is you doin'. That is, if you actually bother to understand what I mean when I say African American Vernacular English, which takes most of its grammar from West African languages.
They speak that way because they identify that way. Read Labov or Chomsky, they've both done fantastic work on the subject.
Speaking that way is, in my opinion, only rude if you are doing it so you won't be understood (or don't take "I can't understand you" as a reason to stop talking like that at the lunchtable. It's rude to talk in a different language, or just to be difficult when you're with a lotta folk, no matter who you're talking to).

Granny's right, people deserve to be appreciated for who they are, not derided for "talking dumb".

Sharon, look at yourself in that there mirror. You do NOT say such things when someone says "And I should be upset about that?" or other yiddishisms of grammar.

My parents, even my mom who tried not to be racist, would ALWAYS correct me if I talked black (even in our house), but I could put on whatever other accent I wanted, without correction.
Somehow that one was WRONG.

Well, as I live and breathe, I'm on the net, and dialect is free!

So you ain't gonna tell me nothin about how I can speak, or be thinkin' that I'm ignernt, amiright, sister?

Sharon from WI said...

ain't never been nothing wrong with double or triple negatives, or how is you doin'. That is, if you actually bother to understand what I mean when I say African American Vernacular English, which takes most of its grammar from West African languages.

I find it quite interesting that I have yet to meet an African--West Coast or otherwise--speak this way.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Well you should be clear it was a transit cop not an Oakland PD officer that murdered Oscar Grant III. Oakland has a varied relationship with the police. It depends on which part of Oakland you live in and whether it's an all-black residential cesspool or not.

RisingTide said...

Sharon from WI,
how many people have you spoken to in their native tongue?
I went to the United Nations, and I asked one of the tour guides there what languages she spoke -- she said "French, English, and German"... I had to press her to get her to admit that she also spoke two tongues natively (I do not remember their names).
West African languages have a particular grammatical structure that carried over into "slave talk" -- aka how Scarlet O'Hara would have talked, raised by Mamie and all that. It's thought that because the languages weren't understandable between different slaves, that they adapted mostly english words but used the common grammatical structures as a basis for group identification.
It's why there's a Pittsburgese, but blacks in Pittsburgh speak African American Vernacular English -- group identification is to black folk, not to Pittsburgh.
WV has the STRANGEST dialects ever, as they have absorbed a lot of Midwestern, Southern, ScotchIrish, and Pittsburgh dialects. It's not that it's hard to understand, it just ... is hard to quantify.

Sharon from WI said...

how many people have you spoken to in their native tongue?

I think that's a question you should ask the folks who speak like this and the theorists who defend poor English by linking it to some West African language.

I find this this theory quite odd, having had grandparents who hailed from Duck Hill, Mississippi.

They certainly had Southern accents. I never will forget how my grandmother would say "We'll be going for ice cream, direct-luh," or "We'll be going to the park, direct-luh." I didn't know what that last word was when I was little. I just knew it meant "soon." It wasn't until years later that I realized she was saying directly.

Now that's a big difference between a Southern accent (or Bronx, New England or West Indian accent or dialect) and someone mangling English, especially to the point that you can barely understand what they are saying. And all too often, their writing skills are nothing to write home about either. (No pun intended)

My grandparents would never say "I be goin' to the sto," or "Who do you think you is?"

Believe me, they wouldn't not have tolerated any of their grandkids speaking like that either. And neither would the other adults, who also hailed from the South.

RisingTide said...

Sharon,

All dialects are hard to understand.
The fact that you've got a particular axe to grind against one don't make no difference to me.
Ya ken, lassie? Or do I need to pinch yer lug before ye get me meaning?

Ah, richard adams. Scotch dialect is WAY worse than Black, I swear. If'n ye've never had cause to list' to someone speakin' anythin' other than the Queen's English, you might not get how many different, utterly incomprehensible dialects exist in England.

wowie! you can't even find the definition for tod online, it's so geordie!

RisingTide said...

Sharon,
Here, have a listen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kKTaOCJROc

tell me you understand that better than AAVE?
surely you like the 'proper english' more than the black dialect, don'tcha?

That dialect goes back a thousand years, AAVE goes back a hundred or few.

glory said...

When I was a kid, one of my girlfriends was the daughter and niece of school teachers. When we would hang out, outside of school hours, I would speak AAVE without shame. However, the teachers would correct my speech all the time. It annoyed me, because they assumed that I didn't know how to speak Standard English. I did. During school hours or when talking to strangers (white people). I didn't understand why I needed to speak standard english when I was supposed to be hanging out with my friends.

I still don't. I still code switch between AAVE and Standard English. I think that as long as I, or anyone, can speak Standard English, there's nothing wrong with dipping into a casual vernacular in casual settings.

Free said...

Like you mention, it's not about "talking white," but talking CLEARLY.

My husband & I were both born in Texas, but I was raised in Alaska. He always teases me about the way I talk. I just keep loving his country behind anyway! LOL

Anonymous said...

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