African-American Vernacular Language

African-American Vernacular Language

Talking Black in America
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According to Steve Willis' poem "Ebonics 101," Ebonics can be referred to as southern fried English, slang, or America's creole. In a span of three minutes, he passionately described the black experience in America. He described not only my childhood, but the dialect that was spoken with so much ease at all my family gatherings. I grew up in an urban community where I heard sayings like: "What yall doing?" "You tryna chill?" and "I finna go to the store" on a daily basis. As I became older and attended school, I knew the use of American Vernacular Language wasn't acceptable. I have to put on a facade when I am not in the comfort of my home. I have to articulate well. I know it is a little un-genuine, but I am certain that if I did not, people would look down on me.

I wondered if I was the only one who felt as though they had to put on a mask as soon as they stepped outside their front door. I observed my mother for a few days. The way she spoke at home was so carefree. I watched as the r's in words that held a combination of "or" magically disappeared. When my little brother started jumping on the couch, my mother stared at him with piercing eyes and a hand on her hip and stated: "You better stop jumpin' befo' you bust your head." However, a cold switch occurred when she went to my brother's school for a parent-teacher conference. Her speech patterns and phrases changed. Her voice was higher. She spoke clearly and eloquently. She reminded me so much of myself when I am in an academic setting, my brother when he is on a job interview, and my grandmother when she is on an important phone call.

I asked my mom who was that woman and she replied with "That was Ms. Phillips. Not Markette." I was not shocked at her response. Ebonics is not the proper way to speak according to society. It is not a dialect. It is not a language. It is improper language. You would be cast as uneducated, inferior, or ghetto if you were bold enough to "talk black" in a room full of linguistic scholars. Willis describes Ebonics as cultural, not remedial. One of my favorite lines from his speech is, "the bended back of my speech comes from years of carrying the black experience." Ebonics is the official language of the undefined black culture and the native tongue to the underrepresented black American.

Cover Image Credit: The Short Horn

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another — not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that.

Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Don't Ask Me if it's Real or Not

PSA: Don't ask a girl if her hair is real or not, you may get a response you weren't expecting.

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I am a server at a restaurant in Tampa, and last weekend at work I got asked numerous questions about my hair. Normally, getting asked about my hair isn't a huge issue for me, but it was the comments that were said after, as well as the look of disbelief in this person's face when I answered them.

I walked up to greet my table. Two elderly couples were coming in for drinks and dinner. Putting on my best customer service voice and smile, I introduce myself. As soon as I finish, one of the gentlemen looks at me and says, "WOW. Is that all of your natural hair?" I smile nervously and assured him that this was the hair growing out of my scalp. He then proceeds to add a comment saying,

"It's so big. It looks like you stuck your finger in something and got electrocuted."

I had to sit and pause for a second after hearing this. I think my facial expressions could tell how I was feeling, because his wife jumped in and tried to compliment me on the thickness of my hair, envying it because she didn't have as much hair.

After such an experience, I decided to conduct an Instagram poll, to see what other people's opinions were about this incident, and if it's ever happened to them. Based on the results, people with naturally straight hair don't get asked if their hair is real or not, compared to those with naturally curly hair. Out of those with naturally straight hair, about 76% of the people that voted, have not experienced someone question the authenticity of their hair. On the other hand, of those with naturally curly hair, approximately 82% said they do get questioned about the authenticity of their hair. As a result, 66% of that 82% with naturally curly hair, are of African-American decent or mixed races.

So what's the big deal?

Naturally straight-haired people rarely ever get asked if their hair is real, however, once someone comes along with naturally curly hair and happens to be a person of color, originality is questioned. Why does a certain category of people get asked more often if their hair is real or not? Stereotypes? Ignorance? Genuine lack of knowledge?

Whatever the reason may be, it needs to stop. Wigs and extensions are extremely common in this day and age, but they also aren't restricted to one race of people. Even celebrities of fair skin wear wigs and fake hair.

Whenever I get asked about the authenticity of my hair, people look astonished when I tell them it is all mine. Why would anyone think the hair growing out of my scalp is fake? It is a known stereotype that people of color do have more coarse and curly hair textures, but that also isn't the case for everyone. We need to stop putting people in categories based on stereotypes. This applies to more than just hair texture. Especially when interacting with strangers, you cannot assume things based on what you've heard or any prejudgements you may mentally make. Asking someone if their hair is real or not, is just as bad as asking someone if they got a nose job or breast implants. What if you ask them and they say no? It can be more offensive to that person than you think. I understand there are cases where the person genuinely is uneducated about other hair types, but either way, those types of comments or questions should not be vocalized. As a society we need to be more considerate of the things we say, as well as get rid of stereotypes and negative prejudgments. At the end of the day, we are all the same species. We may look completely different than the person next to us, but that's the beauty of it all.

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