Written by Naina Varma
“On fleek” and “bae” are examples of AAVE, or African American Vernacular English, a type of dialect. Because it is a dialect, AAVE includes a type of pronunciation, negative concord, and vocabulary, but in this article, I want to discuss AAVE slang. I know many white people or non-black POC, including intersectional feminists, who constantly use AAVE inappropriately in their conversations simply because they are unaware that it is appropriation.
A good question to ask yourself when considering speaking in AAVE is, Is this something you’re saying to fit in or be cool, or is it authentic? Many non-black people speak AAVE, whether they were raised in neighborhoods with a high percentage of African Americans or have picked it up at sometime in their life.
I am a non-black POC, and I would like to explain why a non-black person must use EXTREME caution when using inauthentic AAVE:
African Americans who use AAVE in day-to-day conversations are often seen as ghetto, while White people (especially entertainers such as Viners) are glorified and seen as trend-setting.
Furthermore, Black people are oftentimes forced to not use AAVE in situations where it may deemed unprofessional, while at the same time, white and non-black POC can use it to seem -edgy.-
I have heard white boys use “bruh” (AAVE) and the n-word (!) in the same sentence; this is a problem! Many people who use AAVE inauthentically are not aware of the cultures they are appropriating also disregard the history of those they are appropriating.
So, consider this: if AAVE is not native to you, then why are you using it? Instead, why not use your platform to educate those around you? If you are in a position in which your dialect does not subject you to ridicule, I would consider that a privilege. Know this privilege and use it to amplify the voices of those who are silenced.