Monday, May 21, 2007

What Does it Mean To Talk Black?

Coming up as an African American girl in the South, I often was accused of talking like a white girl. Even now many people who first speak to me over the phone are surprised to learn that I am Black.

This caused me to think, "what does it mean to talk black?"

Well, here's the crazy thing. I am black and I do talk. Therefore, when I talk, wouldn't I be talking black since that's what I've been all life?

Where do we get off trying to colorize a way of speech?

The problem is, that somehow we as Black people have allowed ourselves to be stereotyped as slang talking, ebonics speaking, individuals. Personally, I prefer to use the term "unlearned speaking."

To that end I can assure you that I have heard Whites, Latinos, and other nationalities split verbs with the best of them. So, how then is it that we choose to call this type of vernacular "talkin black." In my opinion, ethnicity has nothing to do with it. A lack of education is the more appropriate culprit. N0t only from an academic standpoint, but from a cultural standpoint as well.

Society has been led to believe that black people in general, and young black people in particular, converse this way all the time. Not true. There are many of us who use the english language in its proper form on a regular basis and, contrary to popular belief, those of us who do choose to speak properly are not "talkin' white" we are simply using correct grammar.

I really wish people would get over this whole thing of "talkin' black", or "talkin' white" and simply talk.


alphamonster said...

I agree to a point. To me "talkin' black" has more to do with the rude attitiude that the speaker gives the listener while using poor English grammer and improper language usage. The very tone is disrespectful, and I believe that is a culturally learned trait. Maybe to them it doesn't sound rude, but to me it sounds insolent. But I may be wrong; I'm a 1st generation American and I speak English very correctly. I teach elementary school and I make sure I speak proper English and proper Spanish. Nothing makes me angrier than a teacher that speaks improperly and then wonders why the students do so poorly on langauge tests.

MGK821ZA said...

“The problem is, that somehow we as Black people have allowed ourselves to be stereotyped as slang talking, ebonics speaking, individuals.”

You are mistaken to call it a “stereotype”, because it is really a fact that indeed many black people do speak in this manner. In the car I sometimes listen to talk radio, and I can almost always identify if the speaker is probably a black individual, and I am sure that you could also.

I have two comments, first I was flipping through the cable channels last night and happened to stop on a movie on BET. The movie was actually kind of funny, but at times I had trouble following the dialog because the station had to blank out so many of the swear words. To me, the constant use of cuss words does not provide me with a positive image of a person, but it seems that “black culture” has allowed this practice to seep into their its language as acceptable speech.

And second, I was in a Half Price Books store a few days ago and some young black women came in together. One lady pointed at the overhead sign in the area I was standing and asked me what it said. I answered her with “Philosophy” and Metaphysics” and she then inquired as to what these words were about. I tried so explain it involved issues such as: the meaning of life, is there a purpose for humans being here, is there proof of God’s existence, questions about ethics and morality, what is the proper way to live and treat other people. She responded that she was interested in these topics so I pointed out the book “The Story of Philosophy” by Bryan Magee, which I thought would provide her with a good introduction to philosophy. Later I checked that this book was gone, so I assume that she purchased it, and I hope she enjoys it.

Duchessdon said...

While I do agree with both commenters to some degree, I believe that my problem is more so with calling it "black" rather than urban or something else. I know many black individuals who are apalled at the language used and who would never use it, so to name it black is incorrect in my opinion.