The need to speak the “Queen’s English.”

American English speaking African Americans will use “tooken” instead of taken ( dialectal, nonstandard) past participle of take; a nonstandard form of taken.

And often it is white English speaking Americans who will correct them.

Locally, I have grown up in the townships where words such as “yous mos” is used, and everyone understands what it means.

It should not matter since most people understand colloquialism, but why does the use of Standard English imply a level of intelligence? Because English or Standard English is the yardstick by which we measure ourselves, and our “level” of importance in the world includes our perceived sense of superiority. Which simply dates back to racism, particularly structural racism.

The English language perpetuates this in idioms such as “black sheep,” “black market”, “black mood, “black magic,” “blackmail,” denoting nothing good about the word black, and representing it as bad, evil, sin, wickedness and immorality. Yet, on the other hand, white is meant to represent purity, chastity, (getting married in white),  innocence and virtue, including raising the “white flag,” (symbolising peace). Experts believe that this is not accidental as it affects how people interact with each other and can contribute to racial discrimination.

Even a negative connotation such as “white trash” refers more to the word trash as the modifier, not white and focuses more on class and socio-economic circumstances.

An English Literature Professor Suthanie Motha, at the University of Washington, states that even the teaching of English is prone to linguistic racism and problematic! In her book, “Race, Empire, & English Language,” (2014), she explains that “standard English” is seen to be superior to Jamaican, Hong Kong, or Nigerian English, which have deep and complex histories but are regarded as “inferior” because they are spoken largely by non-white populations.

Why is this a problem? Because language isn’t just something we use to communicate; it also may structure the way we think and how we process beliefs and values. And if the language we’re using naturally, and regularly, associates blackness with inferiority and negativity, it’s no wonder that black lives don’t matter as much as white lives do. (Courtesy of Dr Agwu Okali, a Harvard lawyer)

The English language needs to be de-racialized, and it’s not an easy task, and demanding black and brown people speak English, or laughing and ridiculing accents when people don’t sound like you may seem ok to you, but, unless you are doing it with every French, Spanish or German-speaking person that crosses your path, it’s racist, and if it’s racist then you need to change your behaviour.

Let’s all live Grammarly ever after and accept each other for more than just our ability to speak the English language.