I have always heard the phrase “talking white” specially when getting prepared for any interview; school or work. This is a stereotype I, along with many of my cultural/socioeconomic background have been made to follow because its been shown to help us. Unfortunately, any English other than the standard holds a social stigma of being uneducated, weak, and “ghetto.” As this stereotype is maintained, many of us are pre-judged even through the phone. “I have to use my white voice on the phone,” to get the chance for an in-person interview. Usually, my name gives away my race/ethnicity , but if I can get over that the “white voice” comes in handy because it’s associated with intelligence, priority, wealth, and sophistication. For example, if I go into an interview I need to make sure I refrain from using my idiolect which is composed of African-American English (AAE) and spanglish. Once I use my idiolect, all my qualifications will go out the window. This is a true disadvantage for minorities and a misfortunate stereotype maintained alive. Speaking white is associated with greater vocabulary and articulation, which seems to be what others are lacking according to society. Just because I cut off some words or use slang doesn’t make me any less educated, than a Josh or a Hannah that use “been” instead of “bin,” double negatives, etc.
There are obvious vocal differences between both parties which is the beauty of the English language. Our speech is highly influenced by our surroundings and when someone uses AAE or any other English variation, people quickly make assumptions of the speaker’s location which then turns to assumptions of economic status and race/ethnicity. Hopefully, this stereotype against English variations is put to rest because it’s disheartening to have to put up a facade for something you deserve. The way I speak doesn’t outweigh my educational achievements and great qualifications, so why am I being held to this standard? Why can’t my English hold the same value standard English does?
I believe a good story is composed of persona, style, and overall truth. Each writer has their own voice and it’s important for me to hear it through their work. It can be boring and monotone when reading/writing a narrative that has no persona. Being able to express your voice in writing is difficult, but when done right it can effectively draw in the audience and enlighten pathos. This can be done by adding personal connotations like Martinez did, “mija dame a huevo from the fridge.” This quote welcomed me to her family, using her mother’s literal words instead of writing my mother uses spanglish. Also, style can boost a narrative making it more interesting and memorable. When trying to write a narrative, we can mistakenly reiterate an idea to make up for lost words, I think it’s more efficient to change up the writing styles in these instances to keep the audience engaged. We can use literary devices like metaphors and similes or quotes from a relevant author to enliven the story. Truth makes a good story because you’re writing from the heart which can be transmitted to the reader. In the exchange from writer to reader, truth can be the tie that connects both parties.
Aja Martinez’s story was straightforward, personal, and relatable. I really enjoyed her narrative as she portrayed her struggle in identifying with various cultures and languages. She used quotes from her her family to give the audience a glimpse of her life. Martinez also presented her personal experiences through academic settings and personal settings like her struggle to communicate to her monolingual grandparent, or even the instance she had with a monolingual Spanish speaking lady on the bus. In addition, I think that whether or not you’ve been through a situation like Martinez’s, her writing allows you to empathize and learn which makes it a good story.
As a student, I’ve been led to believe that standard English is the only correct way to speak and write. It’s important to be concise and “proper” in order for your work to be valid and your audience to understand. Because of this old way of thinking, many have belittled English dialects like African American English (AAE). As stated by McCulloch, “we know that where and how you grow up influences your idiolect, so why is it acceptable to penalize people for something no one has any control over?” There are not two people who speak the same, everyone has different styles, tones, and diction. For example, celebrity Cardi B is often ridiculed because of her speech pattern, which is viewed as “ghetto” and unintelligent. Her most recent instagram video regarding the government shutdown received a lot of backlash because many believe her way of speaking disqualifies her from speaking about important issues.
After reading McCulloch’s article I greater believe that there isn’t one correct English. In the United States alone there are numerous English variations which is fascinating to see. I understand the concept of using one form of English for a universal connection, it’s not an invalid point. It’s unfortunate that we’re being unjustly judged for something so opinion-based; ultimately the title “good English” is just an opinion, so why are people still being stigmatized by non-factual thoughts?
Martinez’s purpose was to wholeheartedly depict the devastation she felt when her academic skills were criticized unjustly. She wanted her audience to understand the hardships and self-doubt she had internalized that were suddenly put on display for her peers to witness and judge. Martinez wants to let everyone that looks like her know to keep pushing because the fight is precious. It takes discipline and strength to succeed when society has put all the odds against you. The professor let his/her ignorance intervene in Martinez’s academic growth, which happens to many minority students in predominantly white institutions. Through her emotional appeal Martinez is calling out for change in academia. Like the note her professor left on her paper “needs work,” the stigma suffocating minority students in academic spaces needs work. It’s critical to make minority students feel safe in spaces where they are breaking down barriers. Growing up within a mainly latino and African-American student body I never felt like I didn’t belong until I went to a predominantly white university for my first semester. It’s always heard and seen on the news that we’re the minority, but you never truly see nor feel it until you’ve left your comfort zone. I can relate to Martinez’s fight to make spaces safe for minority students because it’s tough having to constantly prove your worth to yourself, family, peers, and professors.
Both reading assignments emphasized the necessity for pathos as it invites the reader on a relatable and personal level. Martinez uses her personal experiences to draw in readers that perhaps have been through a similar situation. After her audience is emotionally connected, she invokes the change that is needed in academia for minority students. In Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos, the author shows how companies like the FDA use warning labels to portray a message to consumers. Warning labels can provoke an array of feelings depending on the audience. All writing should use pathos to a certain extent because a piece solely based on facts can be dull.