Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shifting: Chapter 4: Seeking a Voice

[Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America]


In chapter 4 of Shifting, Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden record the ways that black women express themselves and possibly their dissatisfaction. As the authors note, Black women have found their voices in the arts, activism, careers in politics and a host of other professions and activities.

The subsection “Chilling Effect: The Suppression of Speech” discusses everyday situations that prompt black women to choose between speaking up against racial injustice and suppressing themselves. The authors acknowledge that the reason black women choose silence is because “they suffer the consequences” (116).

What stood out to you most concerning the issue of silence and suppression? Why or how so? Please provide a page number.

28 comments:

Niagra Bee said...

The part that stood out to me the most was Robyn's story (beginning on page 106) because I partially identify with her. I myself grew up in California, where the three major races are Caucasian, Hispanic, and Japanese American. I grew up with bias of speaking "White," so seeing "Black English" as a separate language makes more sense to me than thinking of it as the "English" I know to be "normal."

-Que'rra Mason

devinrules97 said...

The part that stood out to me the most was the story about Eva on page 107 and 108. Even though Eva was very attractive and worked as a model, she was still put down because of the way that she talked. In the modeling world looks matter more than voices, but Eva was still criticized for her use of language. Eva even went and bought books on how to speak proper English in order to meet the standards that others around her had placed.
-Devin S.

Deborrah Blackburn said...

One thing that stuck out to me was how you speak can determine whether you will be rejected or accepted (93-94). I say this because everyone speaks differently depending on where you're from and who your family is. However, one thing that i could never understands is how speaking one way equates to "speaking white", and talking another way equates to "speaking black." I think that it's sad that people beleive they must change the way they speak just to fit in with a certain demographic. It's also sad that you can be denied a position because of the way you talk, even if you are the best candidate for it. People should learn that just because someone talks differently than you doesn't mean they are less intelligent.
Deborrah B.

Naomi Thompson said...

"If you always speak "White," you may win respect in the conventional White world, but end up alienating your Black friends and family" (pg. 95-96). This has been my life for the last 14 years. When I was 5 years old, my white grandmother took my sister and me into her home and raised us. Being from Jacksonville, IL, everyone in our town was pretty racist (black and white) and they kept to themselves. Since I spoke "White", none of the African Americans in my town wanted me to be around because they thought I was stuck up and prudish. But worse yet, none of the Caucasians wanted me around either because I was black. I was the only mixed child besides my sister in our school so I had no one to fit in with. I was alienated my most of the African Americans in my town, and the friends I did have often made remarks like "you're the whitest black person I know." This chapter basically summarized my life. I'm not stuck up and I'm really friendly, but I'm sorry I can't help the way I speak.
Naomi Thompson

Maya Searcy said...

The story that stood out the most to me was Robyns on page 106. I felt I was in a similar situation. I had always grown up in schools that were predominantly white with some black kids and few other races. My parents always thought it was important for me to be around other black kids though, so they always found ways to have me interact with other black kids. These kids were from dominalty black schools and always said how I acted so "white". I was always a little conflicted with this like Robyn was. At times I thought the way the black kids talked was weird and made them sound low class or silly. I think a lot of the time (even now) I try to avoid talking like that (slang, I suppose) so I didn't sound as they did. I believe I will go out of it though as Robyn had when she found her voice.
Maya Searcy

Maya said...

The story that I identified the most with was Robyn's story on page 106. I was in a similar situation as Robyn. Most schools I went to were dominantly white with some black kids and few other races. Because of this my parents found it necessary to make sure I had interactions with other black kids. When I was younger (middle school, high school) I always found this silly or annoying because I didn't identify as much with black kids as I did with white kids. I thought there speech or slang made them sound silly and uneducated.Often times I would say something and the black kids would say " you are so 'white'". So I would either stay silent or try to sound like them. In my English class we had a discussion like this. At the end of the discussion, I ( and I guess my classmates as well) came to a realization that most people talk the same way in different situations. Talking "black" isn't really talking black because everyone does in similar ways. Like Robyn as time went on I grew out of this, per say, and just try to speak in my own voice.

Aja J. said...

One thing that stood out to me was on page 110 when Melissa felt that she needed to act and talk differently when it was time for her to go off to college. Because she was a black woman, she thought others would automatically assume she was ignorant when she opened her mouth. I think a lot of people are becoming self-conscious about being viewed as loud or rude just because they are black and act different. Everyone is different and no one should be looked down upon because of that.

Anonymous said...

The portion of chapter four that stood out to me the most about silence and suppression was the portion about the Phoenix native woman Glenda. Glenda is a thirty-eight year old business consultant and a black woman who suffers at the hands of the misconceptions of black women(page 97). As Glenda says, "Just because you're talking loud and animated doesn't mean you're arguing." We are perceived to be loud, rude, and argumentative. These are oppressing misconceptions that many of us fight endlessly to disprove therefore changing ourselves. I have like Glenda and many others in this novel changed my behaviors and dialect when speaking to or in the presence of whites. I related to Glenda in the aspect that once your true mannerisms and behaviors are shown you are no longer viewed as intelligent or on the same level as the ones exposed to your 'true self'. If you say something jokingly to a friend, in confidence as you thought you were, you are forever labeled as the comment or joke you made. After this occurs all the Whites will see is the words you spoke and you. McKayla W.

Jazmyn Maggitt said...

The story that stood out the most to me were the stories about Vicky and Darlene on page 105. They stood out to me the most because we share similar experiences. Vicky enjoyed reading, and most books lack the expressions that Black people use, therefore Vicky didn't talk like the other people around her. And Darlene grew up around White people, which lead to her speaking like one as well and then she was told that she wasn't really Black. I grew up in a town white town, with my white mother, so when I talked to some of my friends that live in other towns and are around Black people all the time, I get questioned on why I talk the way I do. I've also been told I'm the "whitest black person you'll ever meet," and all of it is just the result of where I was raised and who I was raised by. Just because I don't have all the same speaking mannerisms that others do, doesn't make me any less Black, and the same goes for Darlene and Vicky.

Sydney J said...

On page 94 and 95 the authors give examples of Nancy and Carolyn being judged for the way they talk. I find it very unfortunate Nancy felt she had to filter the way she talked just to get the approval of her coworkers. It's appalling that talking "black" is seen as a negative thing that can cause not only coworker's disproval but also the work place in general. It's not fair these women are forced to speak differently just to ensure they recieve backlash at work.
Sydney J.

Kytela Medearis said...

I definitely identified the most with Robyn and her story. (106). I was adioted into a white family when I was 6, and went to predominantly white schools up until college. Yet, even there, the kids still like to poke fun at me for acting or talking ' white '. I never understood why they felt the need to basically insue that I was a disgrace to my race because I decided that I wanted to speak educationally and professionally rather than using slang terms. It frustrated me when I visited my birth family and my siblings all thought of me as an outsider just cause of the fact Im more 'white' than I am black. I just know that at the end of the day it doesn't matter what others think. If 'talking white' means sounding more educated and professional as opposed to 'talking black' than I am totally fine with 'talking white'. I am who I am.
-Kytela Medearis

Asher said...

"And part of me said, Don't say nothing. You don't have to respond to everything that's said"(pg 116). There is a double standard in the image of the "Angry Black Woman" type stereotype is another way to silence black women. Some people wish that black women should shut up and be quiet. That "people won't you see you as an angry black woman, if you just be a lady". The funny thing is, you don't even have to have a tone in your voice anytime you critique the status quo or stand up for yourself, without people saying to be quiet and stop complaining. I think the most "angry black woman" critiques today are aimed at those women who are speaking up on matters of race or oppression.The "Angry Black Woman" stereotype is just the modern version of how before the Civil Rights Movement there were rules about how black women were supposed to conduct themselves in public and around white people, and it was okay to remind them. Now we don't have to put up with that but the expectation is still there.

-Asher Denkyirah

Breanna B. said...

Reading over everyone's comments and views, I really found myself relating to how Maya connected with Robyn's story on page 106. I grew up in a small town where my sisters and I made up what little diversity the school had. My parents never felt it necessary to throw me into a situation like hers did, but I have had friends--with no prejudice--say, "You act white though, so you're basically white." It used to kind of bother and I wouldn't say anything, because what does one really say to that. As I got older and had more grounded ideas of the world around me, I began saying something about it. I understand that the stereotypes we all are too well aware of are based on repeated themes of behavior of certain races, but I find it ignorant of those who believe one isn't "black" simply because they don't "act black." Your race is not your identity; it is just a small piece of the bigger picture. Strip it away, and we are all just people, no longer bound to the stereotypes.

Kellsey H said...

My mother is caucasian and my father is african american. Though my appearance reflects traits that I have acquired from my father, my personality does not. I was raised by my mother, and because of this I am constantly reminded by my african american friends that I act "white" and that I'm "not black." For this reason, the story told by Robyn on page 106 stood out to me the most.

Alexandra Donaldson said...

On page 95-96 the author talks about talking "white" and the "positive consequences" and the "negative consequences" associated with this including being alienated from the black community. This issue is very concerning because a person should not feel ashamed for talking "black" or have to filter the way they speak to sound "white". For most of my life I went to a predominantly white schools and often times when I was around a group of all black people they would say I talked "white," and I was often times the punchline of certain jokes regarding black culture. I personally feel the way a person speaks should not determine how people see them or the amount of success they should be able to obtain.
-Alexandra D.

Dakarai P. said...

The part that stood out the most to me was Carolyn's story on page 96. I grew up in a mostly white community and I found myself "talking White" at school and at work, but naturally switching to "talking black" at home with my family. I didn't realize I did I did it until one day one of my white friends had pointed it out to me after I got off the phone with my cousin.

Lindsey McCall said...

What stood out to me the most was on page 110. This stood out because I can relate to it the most. Growing up I was always told that I "talk white" and I never understood what people meant by it. Regardless of my abilities to speak proper when I came to college I did feel like I needed to change by becoming passive and silent.

Fiona H. said...

The quote that stood out to me was on page 95-96 when the author said, "If you always speak "White," you may win respect in the conventional White world, but end up alienating your Black friends and family" (pg. 95-96).This stood out to me because it reminded me of both my sister and my own relationship with my family. My sister went to a catholic, predominately white high school and she began to speak 'white'. She was oftentimes criticized by our family (and myself) for the way she began to talk, which I know realize was wrong.

shelby Washington said...

On pages 94-96, what was striking to me was that there was a stigma paced on Nancy early on. Even in grade school, she was taught by her teachers to speak properly because her race already made her inferior. The constant struggle to formulate the right words, at the right time, in the correct grammar MUST have been terrible. instead of being heard, she was silenced from within. It was a lesson taught early on to myself by my mother. She worked for big corporations her entire life and stressed to me the importance of using correct grammar at the correct time. I used to call it "talking white," but my mother corrected me every time. She taught me that it is not talking white, but professionally. It's okay to be myself, but there has to be a middle ground. Not everyone uses the same slang or jargon, but correct grammar is universal.
-Shelby W.

Anonymous said...

What stood out to me the most was that African Americans thought they would be labeled as "'ignorant' or 'low-class'" for speaking out on page 107. I have always been confident in correcting other on racial misunderstandings/ misconceptions. But it is funny that someone would call you ignorant for speaking out when it is probably them who need to reevaluate their views. People should not feel bad for correcting someone who is wrong.
-Taylor M.

Peyton D. said...

Robyn's story on page 106 stood out to me because I connected with it. I am mixed and was raised in a 99% population so I "act white" according to people and am not accepted by everyone. Unlike Robyn, I do not change myself to fit it. I am me. Speech is cultural but I should not change mine to fit in for a temporary time.

YaQkeha Witherspoon said...

On page 96, the authors talked about "speaking black" and "speaking white" and I related to this because I am guilty of changing the way I talk when I am talking to certain people. I can fluently go from speaking slang to speaking properly in what I consider my "white people voice", but it's necessary and it should not be. People judge you first by the delivery, tone of voice, and word choice you use more than the meaning behind what you are actually saying. Which is why people change their tone, go from slang to proper English, and choice their words carefully.

Tameah Foley said...

On page 108, when the author talks about "code switching" stood out the most to me because it is extremely true and I have experienced it a lot among the black women in my life. My mother is the only African-American at her job and always has to change up the way she talks when she's there.

Ashley Murray said...

"Talk white" is what you hear in the African American community. What stood out to me the most concerning the issue of silence and suppression was when Robyn explained her story on page 106. Although I knew the "proper" way to say things in my family and my surroundings coming from Chicago we have our own slang that we all understand and live by. White America does not accept this culture and to them were uneducated. This silences and suppress our culture as we know to say one is better than another instead of simply accepting each person as they are.

Jamesha M. said...

What stood out to me was that it was so okay for White women to use Black English, but when Black women use it they seem less respectable and less respectable and less serious. The language that Black women come from and tend to use make them discounted or distrusted (97).

I’ve seen this and even experienced the way someone White looks at you differently if you speak Black language. But it doesn’t seem right to have to speak with fewer slang words or ‘African Americanisms’ to be accepted in a professional environment (103).

JaLeah M . said...

I think the content as a whole stood out because I've witnessed it personally. On numerous occasions my mother has come home with her infamous stories from work and she's said before how she's had to hold her tongue to prevent being seen as "aggressive" or being misinterpreted. I also thought the piece on Marva the 23 yr old college student story was extremely relatable.
-JaLeah M.

sierra lucas said...

Eva story was the story that really caught my eye on page 107 and 108. This was because Eva was a model and in that line of work the way that she talked should have not been a problem because she only needed to look appealing. So the fact that she went as far as to buy books to help her learn how to talk proper English shows just how far we are willing to go to be accepted by others and their standards that they put in place.

Shardai J-H. said...

The story on page 106. "Talking white" is somehow correlated to being educated. This is an idea that I have grown up with. It has been a duty to not sound "white," but still sound educated, using all the right words, all while showing that you're still Black to remain accepted within the community. It becomes overwhelming being yourself and then being told you shouldn't, no matter how you talk.