Too Proper to be Improper? (PoCoWeek 3)

I never noticed how much language has played a significant part in shaping who I am as a person and where I stand in this world (America). You guys already know that I am from Texas, however, I have also lived in Florida and New Jersey. You can only imagine how many ascents I have. To be honest, my accents only come out when I am angry (which I rarely get). But when people do hear them, it’s almost a Caribbean sound because of the way they blend together. But the most interesting thing to me is that the sound leaving my mouth gives people an identification of who I am and where I belong in this society. However, how can people determine where I belong in this society when I don’t even know. I’m not even sure if I care. It’s exhausting.

0536066399d7d6b5022f489f7afa191037d7f64ce3df194d6edf575d23267a02_1  ebonics-2

Respectively, language and ascents are two separate things. As I said in my previous blog post, I didn’t know that I was Black until I moved to a predominately Black area. The ascent that I had at the time (my Jersey one) was considered to proper to fit into my new area. It wasn’t considered Black. I would consistently have people ask me, “why do you speak White?” At the time, I didn’t think anything of this because I knew exactly what they meant. Looking back at it now, I now realize that that was disrespectful and cruel. The person (or culture) is criticizing their own language. If White people are supposed to speak “proper,” then that must mean Black people speak “improper.” It’s like calling yourself stupid. I don’t think a lot of people realize that asking someone that isn’t putting the other person or people down, it’s complimenting them and disrespecting yourself.

Language is one form that divides Black culture from the various groups in American society. Scholars have forming called it African American Vernacular. Some people may know it as Ebonics. Ebonics is pretty much a “broken” English. Much of the language has been developed and past down from African Ancestors who learned to speak English in order to communicate with their colonizers. Some may even consider them to mimic the language. However, “in order to be effective, mimicry must continually produce its slippage, its excess, its difference” (Bhabha 266). I like that Bhabha notices that in order for something to be mimicked, there has to be a difference.

whoslosing_phonics Do you think this image is a form of mimicry? 

Language is a variation of different sounds, meaning, and structures. Of course, we know that language has also been colonized. I hadn’t realized something like language would be a factor in how the world treated me. In my experience, I don’t speak “Black” enough to fit in the Black culture and I don’t speak “proper” enough to fit in American society. So where does that leave me? My language places a barrier around my achievement in academia as well as my connection with the Black culture. Home Bhabha agreed with Anderson’s that language is located in “the inner incompatibility of empire and nation (267). He then goes on to say that, “it problematizes the signs of racial and cultural priority so that the “national” is no longer naturalizable…Mimicry repeats rather than re-presents” (267).I believe that language has the strongest hold on those who have been colonized. I agree that it is harder to decolonize yourself when the language when speak is “partial” diffusion of Christianity, and the partial influence of moral improvements” (267). Now, I am questioning if I can even separate myself from my “nation.” I can physically leave, but the language will always be present because it’s my only way of verbal communication. This topic has deepened my confusion on where I belong in this society. I’m not good enough for one, but I’m too good for the other. I believe I am in limbo along with everyone else.


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