Happy Sunday! 🌞
In her book, “Becoming”, Michelle Obama said the following about her cousins ostracizing her for “talking white”, “Everyone seemed to fit in, except for me. I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring who you are with where you come from and where you want to go.”
That little passage was resoundingly familiar to me — having grown up country as hell and working hard to pronounce my words correctly so I wouldn’t fall victim to the ignorant Southern, Black person stereotype. Then when I’d get around certain Black folks I’d get that, “Who does she think she is?” side-eye when I spoke. Then I’d find myself trying to speak “Blacker” — if that’s even possible — to appease the crowd.
As a preteen, I remember asking my proper speaking older cousin once, “Why you talking so ‘White’?” Her response was swift and matter-of-factly, “What’s talking ‘White’?” Her face was so stoic that I became embarrassed that I asked the question and vowed to never question anyone again! At any rate, she seemed so majestic and sure of her dialect so I wanted to be just like her and pronounce my words correctly as well.
Nowadays I skillfully switch between the dialect of traditional English speaking “Corporate Perri” and some form of a witty, Southern belle depending on the day and the crowd. I assume that I do this to people please and effectively communicate so that I’m understood. Either way — it works!
Being Black is not monolithic. We don’t all have the same dialect or like and do the same things. In this case, I don’t talk ‘White’ or ‘Black’ I just speak some form of the English language that suits the crowd around me. And that my friends is what we call an effective conversationalist! 😁🤩🙌🏾
Do you get told that you talk “too White” or “too black? Maybe even “too Martian”? 👽😁 Tell me all about it in the comments below. 👇🏾
As always, thanks for reading. See y’all soon!