On Being Told I Talk Like a White Girl

This poem was inspired by my experiences with kids of my own race in school. Growing up, I was always teased and called a white girl because I didn’t act black. I explore what that means here. I was also inspired by a poem by Allison Joseph entitled, “On Being Told I Don’t Speak Like a Black Person.” Enjoy 🙂

On Being Told I Talk Like a White Girl

“Why do you talk like that?”
“Like what?”
“Like a white girl.”

A white girl?

So I talk like a white girl, you say.
Tell me, how do white girls talk?
Do they say “like” a lot?
Because if so, I sure am guilty of that . . .

So, like, apparently,
I talk like a white girl
But, like, I don’t even know where you
Could, like, get that from because,
Like, I talk like myself
And I’m not, like, white—

Hmm, I guess I do talk like a white girl.
But does being at a loss for words make me sound white?
“Like” is more of a filler word—
Like “ummm,” “uhhh,” “kinda,” “sorta”—
Surely black people say that.
Right?
Maybe I sound white because I use scholarly terms . . .

Well, I am quite perturbed to find that your intelligence is so trivial
That you would actually categorize my vernacular
On the basis of race!

Ha! I like sounding sophisticated.
So, is that why I talk like a white girl?
That seems to suggest that in order to talk black,
I have to sound ignorant.
Well, ok . . .

Aye, lemme tell you sumin’ right hurr,
I on’t talk like no dayum white gurr.
You tryna call me outside mah name o sumin’?
Don’t make me take off mah earrings an
Whop yo azz!

Woah, just had an out of body experience there.
Definitely not me.
Ok, I guess we’ve made it clear that I don’t speak Ebonics.
Maybe that’s why I talk like a white girl.

Or is it because I have a really soft voice,
A little country at times.
But I was born with that, no use in changing it.
So if my natural voice is the reason
Why I talk like a white girl,
Shouldn’t I be white?
Well, my complexion is pretty light,
And there’s no denying I have a flat ass.
But . . .
Nope, I’m still black.

So why do I talk like a white girl?
Well, let me answer your question with a question.
Why are you trying to correlate my speech with my race?
Last time I checked, race was not a sound.
I think I speak just like any other intellectual person in this country:

Like I have a brain.
Like when I open my mouth I sound like I actually have some sense.
Like I know how to e-nun-ci-ate my words.

Uh-oh, there I go with the “likes” again.
Let me put it into words that you can better understand.
Why do I talk like a white girl?
How about this for an answer . . .

‘CUZ MAH PARENTS TAUGHT ME HOW DA FUCKIN’ READ!

Was that black enough for you?

 

Nortina