“You talk right, I mean white!”: Why Speaking “Proper” Doesn’t Equate to Intelligence

A woman on Youtube gained popularity addressing Black people who accused her of “Speaking White.” Though I agree with some of her sentiments many of her statements proved very problematic.

“There is no such thing as talking white… it’s actually called speaking fluently. Speaking your language correctly.”

Her first statement is true, you can not speak like a skin color. She then goes on to say that what people call “talking white” is actually called speaking fluently and speaking “your” language correctly. By saying speaking white is speaking fluently she is saying white people speak the right kind of english.There are plenty of people who speak “fluent proper english” that say very stupid things.

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) has a long history. When we think of the history of African Americans we must consider how english was not any of their native languages. They were not taught to read and write (They were actually killed for obtaining this skill) so language was created so that they could all communicate with one another.

“In other cultures if you speak your language correctly and fluently it’s actually admired. ‘This persons educated.’ “If you  only speak one language and its your native tongue, and you don’t speak it correctly that’s not cool”

English is not our language; Historically speaking that is, and to equate speaking English with intelligence is just wrong. You can use AAVE and be brilliant, capable, able to create art,and use literary devices. Rappers like J cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Tupac are prime examples of people who use AAVE and are still consider some of the world’s most brilliant minds because of their ability to convey a message.

 “I understand if your bilingual that’s different”

Code switching is like being bilingual. Being able to speak both “proper” english and AAVE is a skill. It’s like uderstanding two languages and being ale to articulate your ideas is what makes you smart, not the way in which you go about saying those ideas.

I agree you shouldn’t be attacked because you don’t speak AAVE but you shouldn’t judge others for not speaking like you either.

Check out the full video below 


One thought on ““You talk right, I mean white!”: Why Speaking “Proper” Doesn’t Equate to Intelligence

  1. Not sure if this is an exact parallel, but here goes. Spelling correctly isn’t a measure of intelligence or any number of abilities, but it is often used as the litmus test to eliminate job candidates without a second thought. Ironically, some studies suggest that typos and other cursory errors are associated with people who excel at higher-level, conceptual thinking.

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