AAVE is For Black People And Black People Only

Ice Cube in "Friday" (1995)
Ice Cube in “Friday” (1995)

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.

Comments

comments

  1. I would argue that if one grows up in an area where they learn ‘AAVE’ as part of their culture, it should not matter. Speech patterns are not a matter of race, they are a matter of culture. It IS cultural appropriation to fake an AAVE speech pattern for comedic or otherwise offensive reasons. That is 100% true, and I thinkI understand what this article is saying, that black culture is being exploited and misused unfairly. But AAVE is not a racial trait, it is a cultural trait. One learns, by virtue of their culture (their friends, their family), how to speak and with what dialect. I have Hispanic family who speak with what could be considered AAVE and it is not a result of them trying to appropriate culture, its because their culture is an amalgam of afro-hispanic cultures do to proximity and similar societal conditions imposed on them (I will NOT, however, justify their use of the n-word, as that is unacceptable). To use the example provided; if a black person were to merely adopt what are considered ‘Asian speech patterns’, yes that would be offensive. But if a black child were adopted by an Asian family in a heavily Asian community, they would develop those speech patterns naturally as part of them growing up and experiencing Asian American culture. That would not, in itself, be a social justice issue. Culture is nurture, not nature.

  2. This sounds like someone trying to widen the scope of the “it’s ok to criminally assault someone for using the n-word” precedent. An ugly, violent, uncivil stance that really needs to stop because it only strengthens the racist weight the word has when used by racists that would hurl it as a means to hurt feelings (not bodies, btw). By taking that word, and these AAVE words, so seriously in your sensitivity to be offended by it (and them, which is your hope here I’m guessing…) you basically do two things: 1) strengthen the weapons of your racist opponents, and 2) give your dumb asses and the many “useful idiots” you’re trying to indoctrinate with this drivel the excuse to commit criminal violence in reaction to some words that express distaste for, and let’s face it, the worst facets of an ethnicity (the n-word, namely. AAVE does sound paticularly uneducated and crude and when used “naturally” it’s by people that are crude and uneducated and violent for the most part…people that would popoff and commit a crime against a ‘bad word’ because they have nothing to live for and live in a ghetto of unchecked and common criminality). No white person really gives a shit if you call them whitetrash no matter how whitetrash they are. You don’t get to escalate or justify your response to hurt feelings from trigger words because of your misstated oppression, of which you faced nearly nothing of in this lifetime, from “400 years” of oppression, especially when Africans of many nations as well as Arabs and then a multitude of European countries are to blame for that period of slavery and for which millions, literally millions, of white people died trying to end in the Civil War.
    Get the fuck over yourself. Language is not the sole property of anyone. You gonna kill some white babies for dancing to rock’n’roll or white kids for playing jazz? Are you going to stop culturally appropriating Asian-made goods and Jewish-made jeans and European and Asian technologies that make your cities stand up? Should white people be revolted by the site of an African walking on concrete and asphalt streets because those things weren’t invented in Africa? Doubt it. So when does the timeline permit any other ethnicity to use the inventions and stylings of another ethnicity? Hm? You don’t know, you haven’t even thought of that and how entrenched and enmeshed all of these issues really are. Now shut the fuck up and realize people are going to do cringey things like talking like they black and acting like a pimp and other retarded shit people haven’t done since the 90’s when Eminem gave us geeky white nerd rap style. You don’t have to like them. People vye for eachother’s attention all the time and you turn them down all the time in varying degrees, even black people speaking AAVE. Just get the fuck over yourself already, jfc. Even in the example of “adopting Asian speech patterns” (lol you try so hard to sounds smart…or is that… white? college educated? …cultural appropriation up in here, dang bish, have sum respek) it’s STILL just mocking their non-fluent use of a foreign language. In short, it sounds funny. If anything more is implied or intended then that’s something that comes down to context on a case by case basis and even then it’s still just one person’s assessment of another which falls into the realm of opinion and preference. It’s hilarious how women will make a case that their racist choice for “only BBC” is only preference, but if a white man says they don’t like black women they’re a fucking racist and need to have their lives ruined. It’s just more power dynamics being developed by sjw assholes like you that want to shut people up with as few words as possible and drive fear into their hearts so they comply with your racist demands. So please…please eat shit and fuck off with your “struggle” and racism, k?

    1. Like Arin said, you missed the point and your comparisons of the n-word to white trash and that American English equates to being smart is dangerously wrong.
      There are some issues I have with the article, but it is am opinion piece, and venting I would say. However the assumptions you’re making about it enticing hate and violence is ridiculous. If you want to listen/read a speech that entices hate and violence, look to the current president of the U.S.
      And to many British folks, American English is sounds uneducated and crude (all in the eye of the beholder).
      In regards to the civil war, you are incorrect. Most white people were fighting to preserve the union, not end slavery. Even Lincoln didn’t want to end slavery, but it was the best way to cripple the South.
      The roots of white trash cannot hold a flame to what the n-word is rooted, you are grossly mistaken if you even think they can be compared.
      Again the offense here is only taken when appropriation is done with no credit. Talking black and AAVE are not the same, the former is offensive.
      There is so much fallacy in your narrow minded retort. You may have more in common with the writer than you think.

  3. The issue is not that Black people simply do not want White people or others to use AAVE.The issue that seems to be being missed is that it can be unsettling to see things that relate directly to OUR African American culture becoming “trendy” and a part of pop culture; however there is no real appreciate of the origin of these things or credit to the origin. For instance,Kim Kardashian being credited to making “cornrows” popular,as if Black people have not been wearing their hair in this style for centuries. To some this point may be minute, however to African Americans,who typically only know African American history it feels like a slap in the face and robbery. The key is to appreciate the culture before you appropriate. Otherwise, you have to understand how it is difficult to see “blackness” being “cool” in a time that it isn’t exactly “cool” to be Black in America.

  4. You forgot to respond to this part (see below) because this doesn’t just sound like “a totally pointless opinion piece that’s really just venting and means nothing at all”, like you said in defending and downshifting its potential power to influence, and all while being published on a site with content editors that choose what goes up on it for its content and timeliness:

    “This sounds like someone trying to widen the scope of the “it’s ok to criminally assault someone for using the n-word” precedent. An ugly, violent, uncivil stance that really needs to stop because it only strengthens the racist weight the word has when used by racists that would hurl it as a means to hurt feelings (not bodies, btw). By taking that word, and these AAVE words, so seriously in your sensitivity to be offended by it (and them, which is your hope here I’m guessing…) you basically do two things: 1) strengthen the weapons of your racist opponents, and 2) give your dumb asses and the many “useful idiots” you’re trying to indoctrinate with this drivel the excuse to commit criminal violence in reaction to some words that express distaste for”

    This kind of outrage has a purpose of widening what’s acceptable to be outraged at so that the useful idiots amongst the readership here go out and commit violence in the name of anti-cultureappropriation that supposedly denigrates black culture by “aping” it. But again, stop speaking English altogether then. You aren’t English. You have the problem with cultural appropriation, not me, so you stop speaking English in whatever evolved formed (chuckle*) it may be at this point in time. And stop wearing your financially appropriated Chinese goods, walking on these Roman Empire appropriated paved roads in your German appropriated cars flashing your French appropriated Cristal and Hennessy bottles. Just stawp. You lazy fucks, forreal mane, wtf.

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  8. I read this thread and just shake my head… Firstly, if my fellow non POC commenters out there can’t seem to wrap their collective heads around the fact that we white people represent the force of power that has and continues to dominate, control and police the acceptance of black identity and culture at every turn, according to WHITE ideas of acceptability, well, okay… maybe that really is too hard for you to grasp, although to me it seems you would have to live in a cave somewhere and are choosing to be oblivious to our collective privilege of whiteness. But fine…I will try to set that aside. EVEN IF you don’t get it, which so many of you are happy to claim with misplaced pride and indignance, here’s what I REALLY just can’t grasp. What does it actually cost you, even if you don’t get it, to refrain from using AAVE? Seriously. What is the cost, pain or damage done to YOU PERSONALLY by avoiding the use of phrases, words or expressions in your day to day life? Let’s be frank… how many of those phrases do you even know? A dozen? More? Less? Let’s even say you know a hundred…. why on earth can you just not STEP AWAY from that small ;part of your vocabulary? It costs you nothing to respect someone else’s feelings in such a simple way. The real reason this is so hard for you? Is you aren’t used to someone saying ‘No, white person… here is one thing that does not actually belong to you.” That’s what’s really upsetting you. I know I’m not changing anybody’s mind here… but for the love of whatever you consider holy… why not just try to ease someone else’s subjugation in just the smallest way. Siiiiiiiigh.

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