My BougieNieces and Nephews (BNs) fascinate and frustrate me equally. I love those gorgeous kids but it doesn't stop me from wanting to smack them into next week from time to time. The BNs are half Black, half Hispanic. They are genetically gifted but culturally... complicated. As of now, they have very little sense of appreciation for their mixed culture or heritage. They care not two shakes of a damn for the music, arts, struggles, or stories of their ancestors. When the one child asked me who Luther Vandross was and the other asked if Betty Shabazz was Tupac's mama, I winced and wept and placed the blame squarely on their parental units.
I'm just going to assume that knowledge will come with time. I grew up in a household where we were required to pull out Ye Olde Encyclopedia (pre-Google people!) and write essays on black leaders. My father played Harry Belafonte, Curtis Mayfield, Verdi and Tony Bennett in the same night. I went to a private school during the week where my sister and I were two of the six black girls attending in grades K - 12. On the weekends, we went to an all black church.
I learned to "code switch" - I talked a certain way with my black friends on the weekend and a different way with my white friends during the week. At school, I bopped along to the Police (yes, Synchronicity is the best album EVER!) while at church camp, I was obsessed with Roger's Doo Wa Ditty (that song went so hard).
But you know what I've noticed? The BNs don't do that. They have grown up in a big melting pot of 31+ flavors and they all pretty much sound the same. "OMG, Aunt Chele, you really think Jay-Z is a better rapper than Gucci?" [Real quote, I had to put them out of the house for a minute] They haven't spent a lot of time with "all white" or "all black" groups so they've never given it any thought. Though it's not just blacka nd white. A friend of mine from college grew up in the little town of Kerrville, Texas. She has a Kerrville language and what she calls "city talk" for when she's at work.
Anyway, this got me to wondering... do people not have to learn this skill anymore? I still use a completely different tone and vibe when talking to my professional colleagues than I do even talking to ya'll. Michele Grant sends out different emails than OneChele. Is this passé?
But then I think of Obama's speeches. He gives a completely different flavor to a speech in front of the NAACP than he gives to the UN. That's part of the reason I have so much fun doing #ObamaTranslations on Twitter. It gives me a kick to break down "We've come to an equitable agreement" knowing that he's probably longing to say "It's bout damn time they saw things my way."
So I'm asking you - when did you learn to "switch it up"? Do you still? Will the kids do away with this altogether? Thoughts? Comments? Insights?