I don’t know when it was that I was told I “talked like a white girl.” I have no idea still what that means. I know it made me feel less than and less black. I know, with my first name coupled with the fact I spoke well, made me in theory and application a white girl.
It was the oddest feeling, even now, to be told, because I have a knack for language and I’m linguistically fluid, my nationality does not match.
Amy Tan said words are her tools, and she spoke several Englishes.
That was so accurate! I speak several languages. I learned that I needed to! They are tools of adaptation and negotiation!
Twang with Mississippi emphasis.
City-County (it’s a St. Louis thing).
Blerd (A nerd who is black)
*White Girl. This English is reserved for emergencies, phone interviews and in-person interviews.
Being a writer, it’s my job to stretch, play with and even create Englishes. I’m supposed to be able to record life and, at times, translate it. Life is messy and complicated, full of sounds and dialects. Speech is never supposed to sound the same in different parts of the world, because people aren’t the same.
So…what to tell the little girl that “sounds white”? Nah, son. You just speak more Englishes.