By Craig Bates
Blacks are once again trying to speak like Malcolm X
(ATLANTA) You can hear the change on the streets of Atlanta, the barbershops of Detroit, anywhere masses of African Americans congregate: so-called ‘talking white’ has come back into vogue.
The historic reversal is directly linked to President-elect Barack Obama, whose precise use of language has counteracted 40 years of the indifferent articulation practiced by many blacks.
“Our new president speaks in such a melodic phraseology that one can’t help but be awed by and try to emulate his words,” said an Atlanta native who goes by ‘Leeds’ and as recently as April proudly proclaimed himself a ‘nigga’ and despised educated blacks. Now Leeds is studying African-American literature at Mission College. “Mr. Obama has inspired me to learn more about Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.”
Leeds is among the millions of blacks trying, for the first time, to enunciate clearly and properly use all the words they speak. This attention to language actually is a return to their roots. Until the mid-1960s, blacks, including groundbreakers like Jackie Robinson and Malcolm X, spoke in a cadence that sounded whiter than someone asking for Grey Poupon.
“If Malcolm walked up behind you and started talking, you would think ‘What white man has come in here?'” the late black nationalist’s friend, Elliott Saffron, told The Peoples News. “What Malcolm was saying was black, but how he was saying it was white.”
There was a paradigm shift, however, in the late 1960s when the speech patterns of blacks like Stepin Fetchit and Buckwheat—who had previously been considered buffoons—became a favored way of speaking. ‘Talking white’ became an insult.
“The thinking at the time was we wanted our own and rejected everything that was from the majority society, no matter how ridiculous it made us look,” says radio commentator Tavis Smiley, who added that Obama’s election has finally allowed him to remove the marbles that he kept in his mouth when he spoke. “So for years now, we’ve defined ourselves by sounding as if we have never cracked a book.”
The trend has already affected the entertainment industry. Dwayne Carter has changed his stage name to “Little Wayne” while rapper Charles Turner, who set a record for most times saying ‘youknowwhatI’msayin’ in an interview, has enrolled in a diction course.
“I shonuff…I mean ‘sure enough’ …will be trying to speak better, youkn…” Turner abruptly stopped himself. He smiled and speaking more slowly, said, “You know what I mean, right?”
Note: This article is satire, brought to you by the creative minds at The Peoples News. It’s not real, but we hope it made you think.
© 2008 The Peoples News