You know what AAVE. We all know what AAVE. AAVE is what is described by the uneducated as “how the younger crowd talks” AAVE has been commercialized and normalized to be seen as something that is hip, trendy, and happening. AAVE is used by companies on social media and in advertising and marketing as a way to appeal to the younger audience and sell to the “millennials”AAVE is used heavily in the gay community especially and overwritten as “gay slang” when really it came from black gay men and not gays of any other color. AAVE has been spread globally to the point where people who have never stepped foot on American soil or met a black American know our slang like the back of their hand, and they may or may not know where it comes from, but I’m here to tell you its a language. AAVE is our language, and apart of our black culture.
So what is AAVE? What does AAVE even stand for? African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is a variety (dialect, ethnolect and sociolect) of American English, most commonly spoken today by urban working-class and largely bi-dialectal middle-class African Americans. In simpler terms it is the language that black people speak, and or how black people speak. AAVE has a rich culture rooting back to when black Americans were enslaved. Slaves invented their own separate version of English to speak with other slaves to form a sense of unity and identity and communication without white people interfering. AAVE to the uncultured ear might not sound like “proper English” but it is in fact proper English, just English spoken in a dialect significant to black American people. AAVE was and still is our culture. It was our way to let another black person know that we are here for each other. It was a way for black people to get messages across that they didn’t want white people being aware of. It was a way for black people who had their African roots forcibly stripped to assimilate to European ways for slave labor usage to form a new cultural identity among our people. It is our language.
So why is it such a big deal if other people use AAVE? Ill put it like this. If I as a black person became obsessed with how Asian people talk, and how they pronounced English words, and paraded myself around speaking like this because I thought it made me appear cooler, trendier, maybe even harder and or more intimidating without knowing the history or the meaning of half of these terms it would be seen as extremely culturally insensitive and disrespectful to the Asian community. Why cant the same be seen for AAVE? Because black culture has been commercialized. Black language is taken and sold to the masses as “If you talk like this you’re cool.” or “Talking like this is trendy” and it is extremely uncomfortable for black people. “Why cant I talk like this? Its just words. It isn’t that serious. Whats the big deal if we want to talk like this” Its not who you are. Its not apart of your culture. Its not how you naturally speak. You aren’t criticized by society as being ghetto and uneducated if you speak like this to the point where you change your voice to sound more “white friendly” anytime you aren’t in your comfort zone. You use AAVE wrong and say things like “bae means before anyone else” when really its just a synonym for baby or babe. You tell us a white gay man invented the word “yas” because of the “Yas Gaga” video that went viral when black people gay or straight have been saying yas since before you were born. You say “Bye Felicia” without knowing who Felicia is, or where the term came from. You tell us “I speak like this because im from the ghetto” When black people who have never even seen a ghetto still talk like that because that language is our language and isnt synonymous with poverty and low income areas. You tell us “but im not white” as if not being white automatically makes you down and gives you access to a culture and history you as a non black person of color have no connection to. You tell us “This is gay slang not black slang” as if the words being said weren’t taken from black gay men by the gay community. Case and point, AAVE is for black people. Its our culture, its our slang, and its not your trend or your way to look tougher for Instagram videos or funnier in Twitter jokes. AAVE may be used by almost everyone these days but that doesnt make it any less sacred or important to black culture. Its not exclusion. Its not segregation. Its not violating freedom of speech. Its not us wanting to keep words to ourselves. Its us saying AAVE is apart of our identity as black people, and we would appreciate it if you would leave it alone.