parenting tip end of school year

Are the Kids Comfortable with Code-Switching?

Posted on Posted in Blog, Parenting's Not Easy, Raising Children of Color

Are the Kids Comfortable with Code-Switching?

Is your child fluent in Ebonics or AAVE?  Do you correct them when they morph into standard English at home? All of our three started out at a predominantly Black school.  Now, they are in classrooms with much greater diversity when it comes to skin color, but not when it comes to speaking.  They attend schools where standard English is the common tongue. You would be hard pressed to find phrases like:
he lookin at me’ , ‘get offa me’I ain’t never sittin’ by you again’ spoken in their classes (from a teacher or a student).
The oldest transitioned to such classes and has adjusted rather well.  The other two just started in the fall and it’s amazing how they’ve dropped their home language –abandoned it even – like they never spoke it at all.  Earlier this year when I dropped them off they sounded like the kids in Crooklyn, now when I pick them up they sound more like the kids on Disney channel.
When I was in high school I was bused to a school outside of my zoned neighborhood. My friends and I were sent to a school where, to me, the kids seemed to walk and talk like the teens in the movie Clueless.  My friends and I were not in the majority.  Not many spoke like those in our neighborhood.  And if they did they didn’t seem to be in the AP classes we took.  One Saturday as I watched my mama make up her bed and explained to her a project at school, she said to me, “You’re starting to sound like one of those preppy girls.”
Huh? (Breath caught in throat)…could it be, my own mama was accusing me of ‘acting White’?
Well, yes …and no.  My mama let me know that day that:
  • Just because someone says there is a ‘right’ way to talk, doesn’t mean there is ‘one right’ way to talk all the time
  • It’s okay to feel ‘some kind of way’ about giving up my authentic tongue/language to fit in with the people in my classes
  • I can code-switch
It may seem kind of backwards to tell your child they can tone down on the standard English at home.  But my parents took pride in the hybrid standard English and West African language that is Ebonics/AAVE.  And we do too.


Have you seen your kiddo’s language change once they attended a predominantly White school?



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