I visit my aunt or cousins on the Cape Flats and I expect to hear words like, “Aweh, ma’s se kind,” from some people greeting each other.

When I am anywhere near black and brown people I expect to hear “slang,” its how we often interact with each other.

When I am in suburbia I don’t expect to be addressed or greeted in the above manner by a white person who has learned the slang but not lived the life. I find it offensive and annoying.

First is the assumption that I speak “gangsta language” and next is that I don’t have a problem with some stranger using the words without learning the history behind it.

If you knew the history behind the “township lingo,” you would understand why it’s not ok to use it on strangers who you assume must speak that way based on the colour of their skin.

Maybe I don’t like the way you waltz in and become too familiar without checking boundaries as if it is your right to do so. It’s arrogant. I don’t like the assumption you place upon yourself that whichever way you will address me I will respond.

The address is never done in a decent, respectful manner but in a way designed almost to “put you in your place.” The smug look I receive after the initial greeting annoys me even more. As if I am meant to compliment you on knowing and understanding “the lingo.”

Do you think because I speak French that I could suddenly appropriate their ways and or culture? Or simply “butt” into conversations as if I am part of them.

You doing that reminds me of a group of friends in high school having a conversation about the weekend party and you butting in and adding your bit without knowing them or knowing what they’re talking about.

Stay in your lane!

Please stay in your lane. Do not move over or encroach into mine unless invited. You have your spaces, you have your ways and traditions as does everyone. Learn our history. Learn our ways. Learn about us as a people before you assume that we are all “gangsta” and would be “honoured” because you came along.

Don’t assume that every person that resides in the township is a gangster, daughter of a gangster, mother of a gangster, or girlfriend of a gangster. It would be the same as assuming your entire family is related to the local grocer.

I once had an argument with a white male who was fluent in several indigenous languages and felt he had a right to identify as black. Now, I don’t care if you and a black boy grew up together as close as twins in suburbia, the fact is that you, as a white person will have an easier life than him. He will be vilified, hated, treated with suspicion, and sometimes barely tolerated. He will have to bear insults that he will soon realize doesn’t happen to you. When something goes missing, he will be the first person under suspicion. You will be given the benefit and your black friend may just end up dead.

So don’t appropriate unless you acknowledge and appreciate that your life is not the same. Stop thinking its “cool” to speak gangster lingo, it’s not. People have been raped, robbed, and murdered under gangsterism, and you’re imitating the lingo just doesn’t sit well with me, considering you have not been oppressed in any form.

Learn the difference between the words gangster and gangsta.

If you can’t be bothered to learn my culture, don’t cultivate it