Friday, June 26, 2009

We MUST do better - Part I

Today's post is inspired by the events of the week and oh what a week. First, a Metro train crashes into another one. Then, we lose three people in entertainment of which the death of Michael Jackson had shocked the world. The media loves to interview people to get their account on the events. I really try to not watch local media. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the local media never fail to find the most unrefined black person possible.

Earlier this week I had tried to listen to witness accounts of the Metro crash. Not a single person interviewed could put together a coherent sentence. Then Mr. Mayor tried to explain the situation, but his speech pattern makes it hard to me to listen to him. I quickly switched to CNN, so I could get the skinny.

To cap off this week, has a 4 minute video on reactions to Michael Jackson's death from a barbershop in DC. Not a single one of these brothers, as my dad would say, "could speak the king's English". One man said (and I kid you not), "he done had so many operations."... I only made it half way through the clip. My ears couldn't take anymore.

Who's at fault? We could blame the media to seeking out these representatives of blacks in our City. However, we should also examine ourselves. I take this moment to thank my dad for stressing the importance of "speaking the king's English". Thanks dad....

Back to my point. I think the schools should not allow students to speak improper English in any class. Jesse Jackson put it best "You can't rise to low expectations." I think as adults, we need to be mindful of our language, especially around young people. Perhaps that's why I'm so hard on Mr. Mayor and how he speaks. Prior to the arrival of President Obama, for many young black kids in DC he was THE black male figure that they were exposed to on a regular basis. Not a day goes by where we don't see our "beloved" Mayor on the local news.

As a culture we need to stop associating speaking proper English with "acting white." Saying things like "He be like..." and "She done did..." makes us sound ignorant. In 2009, ignorance is not acceptable. We have come too far and people have made too many sacrifices for us to think it is okay to split and slice verbs. Like many other young, black professionals, I have mastered the art of articulating and annunciation without losing my own identity.

In addition, we need to correct them when they make mistakes. My Little Sister from the Big Brother/Big Sister program sometimes has to repeat a sentence five times because I make her say it correctly. Here is the real kicker... she knows what the proper sentence should be without me telling her, she just speaks like everyone around her. (ARGH=sound of my frustration). She also has language arts activity workbook that she has to do while we are in the car.

Maybe it's a Utopian dream (after all I am an urban planner), but imagine if the media could only find black people who could articulate a thought in a coherent sentence.... I can dream, can't I?


  1. Amen!!! This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves. I can't stand it and somewhere along the line it became cool to sound ignorant. I wish there was an everyday spell check for our speech lol.