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Feb 13

Writing “White”

WHAT’S PLAYING: Aloe BlaccI Need a Dollar

I spoke to one of my cousins a couple of days ago, and she mentioned that she found my blog on Google and read a couple of posts.

“Oh yeah?” I said, trying to sound casual. “What did you think?”

She was quiet for a long moment and then, “You sound White.”

Now, this is kind of a sore spot for me because I grew up hearing the same thing from Black relatives. To be fair, my cousin isn’t the only one who has made this observation. No fewer than three people have said the exact same thing to me in the past two weeks, and my response is always the same.

“What the hell does ‘White’ sound like?”

Their response is always the same: a shrug and a sheepish grin. “I don’t know. You just don’t sound Black.”

That’s helpful.

I learned to speak English in school. I don’t use slang very often, not even in casual conversation. I don’t have a Southern accent, and the only inflection to be found in my voice is sarcasm. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what “Black” sounds like.

 

I speak six languages, people. Ebonics is not one of them, and I don’t intend to learn. I don’t know how to be anything other than what I am: a multicultural woman who loves to write.

If that’s not enough for you, that’s your problem. Not mine.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/02/writing-white/

6 comments

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  1. Melinda VanLone

    Awesome response! Be yourself, I say, and never apologize for it. I’ve heard that phrase before and always wondered what the hell they thought it meant. I can guess…but I don’t want to. You sound and read like an educated and well-rounded woman to me, which is all I need to know :-D. And…really? 6 languages? holy crap. I’m in awe! I had four years of French and couldn’t even begin to speak it now. Well, other than “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand”. Pitiful, I know. I’m sure my French teacher is hanging his head in shame.

    1. justjacqui2

      Thanks Melinda! The languages came with growing up in a household full of non-native English speakers. My mother is Choctaw/Black, my father is German, my step-mother is French, and our housekeeper/nanny was Mexican. The only languages I actually had to learn were English and Mandarin.

      Don’t feel bad. I’ve been speaking English for over twenty years, and some of the more common phrases still fly right by me. Sister Mary Katherine would be so pissed. 🙂

  2. Lincoln

    I’m still alive!

    Hi – read this, read this, READ THIS!

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/02/between-the-perfect-and-the-re.html

    Then make sure all your writer-friends read it, she has very valid points.

    1. justjacqui2

      Yay, Lincoln! Great blog post. I especially liked #3: People are going to shit all over you. (Reminds me of my first editorial critique.) Thanks for the link.

  3. Joe Iriarte

    I can relate a little bit: I have trouble convincing people I’m “really” Latino because I don’t look, sound, or act like their stereotype of what that should be like. For all we talk about being multicultural, most people seem to still be looking for little boxes to put everyone in.

    You know what, though? Confusing those people is a worthy thing.
    >:D

    1. justjacqui2

      I do like causing mayhem. >:D

      I suppose I can understand the urge to put people into boxes. It’s a way of imposing order on an unpredictable world. I just wish they would come up with a new stereotype.

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