What Does ‘Talking Black’ And ‘Talking White’ Really Mean Anyway?

Why is it that grammar, poise, and immaculate speech are classified as Caucasian traits? 

By: Jason Perry


Maybe it’s human nature to want to gravitate to or mimic a group of people with the most power and control, but while in pursuit of acceptance, a group of people can lose who they are and mentally decrease their intelligence and confidence. Growing up some us may have been told that we talk too white or that we talk too black and being a child it may have gone beyond our comprehension as to what message we were sending. Typically, when someone says “You Talk White,” they usually mean that you are using proper English and your words are pronounced exactly as they should be, with no ethnic accent to be found. But the reverse is “You Talk Black” which means that you are not using proper English and that your vernacular tends to be more urban or slang based. While one of these adjectives suggests that you are educated and grammatically correct the other suggests that you are un-educated and grammatically lazy. So the message being sent is that if you’re black you couldn’t possibly understand sentence structure and phonetics, so when you speak out side of the prescribed vernacular for you ethnic group you must be talking white.

It’s very arrogant and ignorant to assume that you are capable of knowing how every black or white person on earth speaks. What you are really doing is judging an entire people based on those you associate with, which means you need to expand your social group. The environment one is reared in plays a major role in the way they speak, dress and think; it has much less to with ethnicity, but everything to do with exposure. A white male raised in an urban environment would be told he is acting black, when really his language and persona is a response to his location but he’s no less white. When you continue to put a group of people on a pedestal and use their lives as a recipe for what’s right, you subconsciously lower the expectations of your people and kill the fruit they have to offer. It’s important to destroy all stereotypes because all of them are based on isolated interactions that do not apply to all within the group. A young man I know went to an HBCU and most of his life he had been told “you talk white” and after his first semester a family member said this “why did you go to an HBCU only to come home sounding whiter”? At that moment the young man finally understood that people didn’t expect much of black people and attending a Historically Black College meant that he should sound less educated.

I’m certain people don’t think about their comments in ways that I have described, but it’s important that they do. Because we have an entire generation growing up thinking less of whom they are because they sound or dress differently that than people say they should. The truth is a correct way to speak does not exist, it’s only an agreed upon idea by a majority of people, as long as the sending and receiving of messages has been understood then communication has occurred ,regardless of what it sounds like. The evolution of pop culture has caused us to mingle and mix in so many ways that it is not possible to determine how educated or less educated a person is based on the way they talk. The traditional ideas of what determines who you are slowly dying and an inclusive culture is being built. We may not be able to control our skin color from being black or white, but we can control what people take it to mean.


  1. Love this! I hate that everything associated to ignorance and being uneducated is associated to being more black. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever had to deal with when I talk to other black people who didn’t go to college. Grammar has nothing to do with race, it’s never been that deep and I wish people would expand their mindsets about something as simple as speech.

  2. I’m still trying to understand what the hell acting black or acting white even really means. Culture is one thing but grammar and education or the lack of thereof should not be the symbol for real blackness. The saddest thing is we proudly claim these attributes.

  3. In a way, a person’s mentality on “talking white” and “talking black” is a solid indicator of how stupid they are. Rather it’s a black person calling you white for speaking properly, or a white person telling another white person they are acting black because they have terrible grammar…you have to be a complete idiot to think either way.

      1. It’s even worse when a white person says that a black woman talks like a white girl. I see them as stupid, like they are experts on how a black woman is suppose to talk.

  4. This article is the truth. I wish we would all embed the points made in this article into our mentalities, but too many of us refuse to. I’m tired of my blackness being measured by how ignorant I can be.

  5. I can’t stand it when other black folks try to make me feel inferior for getting a college degree. I know that’s off topic, but there seems to be some kind of class issue in the black community between who’s educated and who’s not. The latter is always perceived to be more real but why can’t education just be a choice and nothing more or less than that?

    1. Girl yes! I hate when people try to make it seem like a college degree has no value. Are they serious?! I have a good paying job that required a degree, why clown education because you decided not to get a degree and I did? Drives me nuts.

  6. I’ve been accused for talking white all my damn life. Eventually it stopped getting to me once I realized it was all said out of an inferior complex some people see to have. It wasn’t my problem then and it’s still not now. Some people are just stupid.

  7. Great read Jason. It sucks that people are picked on for succeeding in school by their peers while kids that struggle are looked up to as cool.

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