Monday, March 7, 2011

An Elegant Black Woman Speaks Well and Defies the Stereotypes

Is speaking well and sounding educated ever a bad thing? To some people in the Black community it can be. Some people have the belief that speaking well means you are trying to "act White". Because of this, Black people who did well in school, have a good command of the English language, or grew up in predominantly White areas are often accused of "acting White". Who convinced some of us that speaking a language the best you can means you are trying to be something you are not? Who told these people that using slang and poor grammar, that most people can not understand, is being true to your blackness? Someone must have tricked these people! Maybe it was the same geniuses who thought we could "take back" the n-word by using it in every sentence or as a term of endearment!

We all know that there is a negative stereotype that Black people are not smart and speaking poorly just confirms that stereotype! People who don't like us made up prejudiced lies about us and some people are embracing them as the truth and aspirations we should live up to! You are just hurting yourself by conforming to stereotypes and you are dragging us all down. I think that we have to reinvent what it means to "act Black" because today's definition is hurting us. Here are some things I would call "acting Black".

  • Acting Black is about risking everything to get an education. I think we all have to remember those hardworking courageous people like the Little Rock 9 who risked their lives to get an education. Think about all the great thinkers like W.E.B. Dubois, Percy Julian, and even Frederick Douglas who fought for their educations when the powers that be wanted to keep them ignorant and out of their schools. 
  • Acting Black is about writing and speaking well. Think about the great speech makers like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and even President Barack Obama? Acting Black is about writing and speaking well and inspiring your people to do better.
  • Acting Black is about political activity and activism. Think about the Civil Rights Movement and all of the great activists who fought for equality. They had to be good communicators so that they could inspire the masses and convince those in power about the error of their ways. Use your energy to make positive changes in the world. Vote and get involved!
  • Acting Black is about defying the odds. Read some Black history and look for current news about Black people who have defied the odds. People who are unintelligent and ignorant do not become astronauts, they do not have multiple patents, they are not valedictorians, and they are not CEOs. Being Black is about disproving the stereotypes and doing things no one ever thought you could.
  • Acting Black is about being on your best behaviour but not denying your heritage. We can be on our best behaviour and still be Black. Think about the Obamas, Oprah Winfrey, and Nelson Mandela. None of these people deny their heritage, but they carry themselves with dignity. They don't feel the need to act ghetto even though they were not wealthy growing up. Acting Black does not mean acting ghetto! Furthermore, many Black people are not from the ghetto so why should they pretend to be something they are not? The way you grew up does not have to determine how you act now, you can always improve. 
I hope that this post has inspired you to improve yourself and defy the stereotypes that have plagued us. Acting ignorant is never a good thing and good behaviour, speaking well, and being educated IS "acting Black" and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. If you need help improving the way you express yourself there are many resources online, books, DVDs, and speech making clubs like Toastmasters. You can always improve yourself! I am making a vow today to never swear out loud, never use slang, and use proper grammar at all times! I will always speak at my best.

Here are some online resources that can help you with your enunciation and diction:
Beastly Pronunciations (words we tend to mispronounce)
Tongue Twisters (extensive)

Here are some links about "acting Black":
What is Acting Black?
Acting Your Race (interesting but I disagree with some points)

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