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Journal 5: “Is ‘Talking White’ Actually a Thing?”

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? 

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1 Comment

  1. Yalitza, I feel the same way!! But let me tell you something .It is hard for you, who were born in this country and have been exposed all your life to English in any variation standard or African-American English, but for many people is double hard because like me an immigrant, English is my second language; therefore, the way I sound not only others judge but myself, too. Most of the time I feel insecure of the way i speak. so, it does not matter if talking white is not your thing , because as you wisely said, it does not outweigh your educational achievements and how smart you are.

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