Thursday, October 2, 2014

On 'speaking white' and 'speaking middle class'

The debate over 'speaking white' is about a black woman who objected to the phrase "speaking white". She insists it's just "speaking proper". What she misses is that "proper" is what the local ruling class speaks, and working-class white people tend to have an accent and grammar that's not the same. If a black person talked like the traditional Bronx cabbie or Mississippi "white trash", they might be "speaking white", but that's not what people who talk about "speaking white" are trying to say. They're not talking about race betrayal. They're talking about class betrayal.