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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 3, Thread 9.

34. Is there a list of which I am unaware?
Thu, Sep 16, 1999 - 8:29 PM/EST

Do you guys (blacks, whites, men and women) sometimes get the feeling that there was a document circulated that detailed how we are all supposed to act based on skin color. . . Except you missed school that day? Because, I have a list too long to write here of things that I do and say that make me "white". . . None of which help me when I am driving on the NJ Turnpike. : )

35. unity in diversity
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - 10:51 AM/EST

So perhaps what we need is a means to be ourselves, be accepted for that, and be able to accept others the way they are as well. In part this will require us to get over ourselves. It would help if we didn't always push eachother's buttons.

36. talking "right" and self-segregation
Sun, Sep 19, 1999 - 2:37 PM/EST

I can only observe this issue of speaking correctly and its connection with the establishment. My boyfriend (black man; I am white woman) has been trained since birth to speak perfect grammar. (This can get annoying when he corrects my speech - because I'm a professional editor! :-) ) This often makes for amusing reactions when he meets folks (e.g., in a job interview) who he's only ever talked to on the phone. But what I think is fascinating is that when I have observed him getting together with all-black friends, they often slip into a black vernacular that none of them have been raised to use.

And this is related in my mind to the phenomenon of self-segregation, because this same group of people who went to a large, esteemed university created for themselves a group that was unreceptive, for the most part, to anyone but black students. I think this kind of thing is hard for us "let's all just get along" liberal white people. I find myself getting frustrated at being shut out, at which point I have to remind myself that there is so much history there that I have to recognize.

It's very egotistical of us whites to think we always have to have it our way. That is, back in the segregation days we told blacks they couldn't hang around with us, but now that that's changed they should respond and integrate with us on command! Anyway, that's what I try to keep struggling with in my own head when I see self-segregation by minorities. And I also try to remember the feeling I had when I have traveled places where I have been the minority. I find myself scanning the room for other white people. Just another thing that calls for understanding and dialogue!

37. Good point, Angie
Sun, Sep 19, 1999 - 5:28 PM/EST

What you said really rings a bell for me. I like your point about "integration on demand." I never looked at it like that, and I had to laugh out loud just now when I read that. As I said earlier, I don't really code-switch (with the exception of trying not to swear). If I'm with friends who are black, I speak the same English I learned in my house -- it isn't 100% text book, but it's close enough to pass. I don't do this out of any disdain for other forms of English. I do it because it's the way I talk.

I sound pretty ridiculous when I try to speak any other way. It is, in fact, a big joke among my black friends to try to get me to speak the way they do when we're together. One friend contends that if they could just get me drunk, I'd loosen up enough to pull it off. I disagree ... I think then I'd just be slurry and silly. :) My friends have no problem with the way I talk. They would never think of ostracizing me because I "talk white." And I'm sure that has to do with the fact that they are confident and secure enough to not care.

I think I've strayed from whatever my original point was going to be ... forgive me. I had a party last night that didn't end until 5 this morning!

38. Angie..
Sun, Sep 19, 1999 - 7:30 PM/EST

Thanks for bringing this up, as I felt a little nervous about doing so myself. But now that you have, I feel freer to say that I have noticed this same trend in my husband, who speaks the best English really of anyone I've ever dated, and I've dated a number of men. But i think I noticed this when I first started dating him, and heard him talking to his brother on the phone..he just naturally went into another way of speaking that I had not heard him use before.

Now, it wasn't an I don't know, bad sounding way of speaking, just different, more relaxed. I never had a name for what he has been doing all this time until this conversation started. It was a bit offputing at first, but after four years of living together, I don't really think about it anymore. I somehow feel that it's all a part of 'letting his hair down' when he's with his family. Anyway, thanks for letting me know I wasn't the only one who noticed.


39. angie, bethanie
Sun, Sep 19, 1999 - 7:48 PM/EST

I found your points very interesting. Have you guys asked your boyfriend and husband why they do this and are you OK with this or is this something that you would really like to see them change?

Just wanted to know as I code-switch and I've never saw it as a racial issue or something bad. Just something that helps me to communicate effectively in both worlds. I must tell you though after hearing the concerns over this issue I don't think I will stop but I have been giving it some serious thought.

40. viva la lingo
Mon, Sep 20, 1999 - 6:38 PM/EST

Yes, actually my boyfriend is very up-front with saying that the reason he and his friends slip into this put-on usage is to show a connection and solidarity with the race, even especially more so since they are middle class and well-educated and need a way to show they are still a part of things. I don't see a problem with it (as a student of sociology, I actually find it fascinating). And it will probably be less and less of an issue as we see youths of all races co-opting it for their own vernacular.

The only time I see it as a problem is when it is intentionally used to make someone else feel like an outsider. And, as we've seen from this dialogue, the outsider could be a black person as well as a non-black person.

I totally agree with smoothtap that it's an example of having the ability to communicate in 2 different worlds, like if you speak Spanish with your family and English elsewhere. Having a language that links people of specific ethnicities to each other is a healthy thing.

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