Today’s post was supposed to be an Out ‘N’ About post about my favorite restaurant Founding Farmers. However, that will have to wait until Friday because of a comment left under my most recent vlog Ghana 2015|Vlog# 7|Market Haul. Take a look below.
After this transaction, I felt the need to discuss Language Shaming on the blog today because that’s what I considered his
shade commentary to be. I am open to criticism and critiques hence why the comment section enables anyone to leave a comment. However, I feel this comment was invalid and purposeless. I feel that any critique or criticism needs to have substance and proper delivery that is free from all shade.
First and foremost he started off wrong by writing “You people” and “too American”. And the finale, “try and learn”. Who said I wasn’t trying to learn? His commentary is what I’ve heard throughout my life in regards to me being Ghanaian and my Twi competency. It’s annoying.
As I stated in my previous post here, my mother never taught me or my brothers Twi. I am not blaming her because she was a busy single mom working multiple jobs . Working 16 hours a day, she didn’t have time to give us Twi lessons. That was not a priority. She spoke what we understood and what would get her message across. It’s just that simple. It has nothing to do with being “too American”. It has everything to do with being practical and efficient.
I think the assumption is that because I don’t know Twi that automatically means I don’t want to learn or that I’m not “trying” to learn. Both are false assumptions. When it comes to speaking any language, practice makes perfect. I don’t practice my Twi as much because everyone I know speaks English. Who am I going to practice with? When I do try to speak it, that’s when people (other Ghanaians) mock me or make fun of the way I say things (due to my accent). Sometimes they just bust out laughing. I thought about editing out that part (in my vlog) where I said the cloth name because I knew my pronunciation was off. However, I decided to keep it in the vlog because I didn’t think it was a big deal. Clearly it was.
And then there is the notion that there is something wrong with being “too American”. I am American. I was born and raised here. That “too American” comment reminded me of when people would tell me that I was only Ghanaian because my parents were from Ghana. As a result, I started telling people I was Ghanaian when they asked me where I was from. When I said that, the response was always “Wow but you speak English so well!!” as if I was supposed to take that as a compliment. I find that statement offensive because I have close friends and family born and raised in Ghana that speak English perfectly. I think such a comment and even the vlog comment have more to do with accents and less to do with language proficiency. I think that if I had said the cloth name with a thick Ghanaian accent, he wouldn’t have said I was “too American”. At the end of the day, I am American and very proud of it! I am also Ghanaian and very proud of it! Like my bestie said:
Do NOT try to question my Ghanaian authenticity, this is not a contest. I have nothing to prove.
^^Pretty much!!^^ I typed “language shaming” into Google search and I came across this Huffington Post article entitled What a Shame, You Do Not Speak ‘Your Own Language’. This excerpt below reminded me of the time when this Ghanaian guy said to me in dismay “Your name is Amma but you don’t speak Twi?”
The client immediately shot back: “How is it you don’t speak Spanish? Mmm! It’s a shame that living in Los Angeles you do not speak your own language. If you look more Mexican than me,” emphasized the client, looking around for an acknowledgement to support his unfortunate comments.
This article proves that a lot of first generation people deal with
this ignorance language shaming, not only first generation Africans.
What are your thoughts on language shaming? Have you experienced it?
Please share your comments and experiences below.
Thank you for reading 🙂