|1BN Staff: Proper Grammar is Not White Grammar (photo cred: Samantha Sophia)|
Whether it was said to you, you overheard it, or you said it to someone else, you might have heard the expression, “talking white.” I have heard it said to my friends and I’ve heard my friends say it to others. The phrase is often greeted with laughter, but its use always makes me feel uncomfortable. I remember hearing it last year, seeing everyone around me react with laughter, and wondering, “What about this is funny?” It may seem like a small joke on the surface, but the phrase has a serious implication many people fail to realize and only furthers racial stereotypes because it is also used in a serious context.
Let’s get something out of the way. Races cannot have specific traits. The concept of race was constructed by people to group other people into categories. Having brown eyes is a trait. The color of your skin is a trait, but traits do not go beyond one’s phenotype. People do not have traits based on the color of their skin. White people are not automatically born with the ability to speak with correct grammar. “Talking white” does not prove someone is more educated, has better views, or is in any way better than someone who does not use proper grammar. It is not race specific. People speak differently depending on their environment.
People who proclaim “you sound so white” to someone of color may deem it harmless, but its continued use only hurts people of color as a whole. People automatically demonize someone if he or she speaks with an “urban” dialect. There is a misconception that people who speak with an “urban” dialect are uneducated or thugs. If a black person “talks white”, they are called out by other black people for using proper grammar. There is no winning.
To those of you who do this, stop putting so much emphasis on the way a person speaks, and stop equating proper grammar with white people. To state proper grammar is white grammar instantly suggests anyone who does not use this quintessential grammar is below white people. It may seem small, but the phrase furthers negative assumptions and contributes to the oppression of black people. I do not mean physically chaining black people up, but metaphorically chaining us to racial stigma, by barring us from potential jobs and opportunities.
J.T. is the Assistant Editor of 1BlessedNatural Mag. She is also a college student from NJ. In her spare times she enjoys dancing, drawing, and making people laugh.
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