Western Courier

There is no such thing as talking white

Donnetta Shanklin, Opinions Writer

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I grew up in a predominantly White neighborhood but I have plenty of Black relatives and friends. I am from a suburb of Chicago.

There are people who were born on the streets and speak so-called “street talk,” and are told they talk black. There are also plenty of people that are a bit more privileged, and do not speak street talk, and are told they talk white. Either way, wherever and however they were raised, being told you talk a certain color is ignorant.

Growing up I was always around many different races and people from different cultural backgrounds. No certain race spoke a certain way. I’ve always been one to speak in complete sentences and not use text talk or slang. I’ve always tried my best to speak with proper grammar, in an educated manner. Just because I choose to speak this way as a black woman does not mean I am breaking a norm. I’ve had the same education as everyone else, but because I am black it is assumed that I should talk a certain way. When I break that stereotype, people are shocked.

If I had a dollar for how many times someone told me I talked white I could make college free for everyone. I try to hold it in when people say that, but it really bothers me. When people say that to me I always reply, “What’s talking white? How does one talk a color? That is a foolish thing to say.” When I say that people usually drop the subject and go on to something else. But I don’t.

Since when did white become the superior “color of talking”? You can go back in history and look at all the facts leading to this idea, but in today’s day and age, it’s not a thing that should be said. The thing that upsets me the most is that the people who say this are the ones that are closest to me, the ones who grew up with me or the ones that see me on a daily basis. It is hard to change stereotypes, but this stereotype needs to end, not only for me, but for other black people too.

Black people who grew up on the streets shouldn’t be told they talk black. Some of the best rappers grew up on the streets and are lyrical geniuses using numerous literary devices but because they are rapping, they “talk black.” Someone who is black but speaks proper English should not be questioned as to why they “talk white” because proper grammar is not a color, it is a sign of education, no matter what race. And most importantly, people who don’t complete their sentences correctly, use slang, and other forms of communication that aren’t proper grammar does not mean they are unintelligent.

All in all, being white does not correlate with proper English, and being a different race does not correlate with being uneducated, even if you don’t talk with proper grammar. If you’re a different race and do talk with proper grammar, that does not mean you “talk white.”

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
There is no such thing as talking white