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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is "Sounding White" A Bad Thing?

Trust me, at some point of your collegiate career someone is going to tell you that you “sound white.” When – not if – but, when someone tells you that you sound white, it may very well be a compliment that means, “You’re a very bright, intelligent person;” OR, it may be a shot at you that means “You’re a sell out, and you’ve forgotten where you came from.” Either way, both meanings, along with the notion that one can “sound white,” comes from a place of ignorance and your response should be… “Since when has speaking properly been the sole responsibility and privilege of white people? Intelligence has no color and thus, I’m exercising my right to express my own intelligence.” Point. Blank. PERIOD. Regardless if someone says you sound white out of love or hate(r), laugh at them…then pray for them, because for some reason, they’ve been convinced that having a bit of brainpower, coupled with an appreciation for making some friggin’ sense when you speak and an affinity for not sounding like a fool adds up to “sounding white.” Whew, I could go on for days, but I’ll move on for your sake and mine.

At the end of the day, there are individuals who seek to “sound white” in order to get a pass because they believe that is the only way you can “make it” in this world. Pray for them as well and move on. Hopefully, one day they’ll learn. One day, they’ll have that rude awakening and they’ll look back to realize that they lost themselves somewhere along the way. You don’t have to be that person though. No, there aren’t as many people of color in powerful positions for us to look up to with regard to how we communicate. There are enough, though, and they certainly aren’t trying to pass. You can stay in your comfort zone, be true to yourself, and find success without “sounding white.” All I can ask you to do is please speak with some sense. Now, you don’t have to put on your best Becky voice to sound like you have sense or in order to be taken seriously, but there are a few things that are absolutely necessary. Please don’t replace “th” with “f.” It’s not “wif,” it’s “with.” It’s not “nuffin,’” it’s “nothing.” Don’t add extra “eds” at the end of words that already them. “Neededed” should be “needed.” Also, some words simply don’t exist. “Conversate” does not exist in any language; it’s “converse.” “Irregardless” is a double negative. It’s not “irregardless what you think, I’s smart.” It’s “regardless what you think, I’m smart.” Other than that, stay in your comfort zone. You don’t have to use twelve letter words to make your point. Trust me. A Professor once told me “KISS” – “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Yes, I was offended, but his words stick with me. You don’t have to say “a two-legged, feathered egg creating animal made a conscious, cognitive decision to alter its current physical location in order to relocate to an ideal, more suitable locality.” Just say, “the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side.” Point taken. Simple. There’s nothing worse than someone who thinks they’re sounding intelligent and yet, their showing their ignorance. So, the moral of this story: Keep It Simple Stupid. Know what you’re talking about and stay true to yourself. You are intelligent and you don't have to try to prove that to others by "sounding white.” Go forth and speak with confidence, assurance, and in your own voice. Peace.

1 comment:

  1. I remember being told time and time again as a child that I "sound white", I'm so thankful that I've reached a place where I understand the ignorance behind that comment. For precious Black children who speak well, it can feel like a shameful insult and launch them into a grammatically-grotesque tantrum to prove their "blackness".

    The comment I've come to love (ha!)is, "You speak so well!" *confused look* I speak well for a Black person? Young adult? Female? I'm in corporate public affairs for pete's sakes! My race/gender/age still leads you to believe that I might be a babbling buffoon?