There's a lot packed into this short piece of spoken word by Ernestine Johnson, about what it means to be a black woman in the United States today. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen below:
I remember my ex's mother telling me "I didn't know how I was going to react when he brought home a black girl, but I like you because you talk so white." Well, when did me talking right equate to me talking white?
This is one aspect of White Privilege and a notion that is so incredibly racist; but I think that most people who speak this way don't even realize it. It's a kind of internalized racism that even many people of color espouse, talking in much the same way about white/black speech and behavior.
It's this dichotomy that pigeonholes a black person into an "oreo". You know, black on the outside but white on this inside. If a person speaks eloquently, dresses professionally, and behaves in an upright, respectful manner, then s/he is really just accessing the white person deep at the core of his or her self. Nevermind their actual skin color, shared culture and experiences, or actual identification as a person of color.
I remember describing my black friends as "oreos" when I was in high school, because they dressed like me and listened to hard rock music. Perhaps they would have described themselves in the same way at that time. But what I hadn't realized yet was just how racist the very notion was.
It's true, a black person can retain his or her identity and integrity as a black person while listening to music that is generally enjoyed by a white demographic. And s/he can still keep their blackness in full view, even as s/he speaks the English language in an "eloquent" way -- not because s/he's actually white deep down inside, but because s/he is educated and chooses to speak in that way when appropriate.
Perhaps it's worth noting at this point that there are other scenarios where speaking in a regarded-less-eloquent, presumed-to-be-black way might be more appropriate. There's absolutely nothing wrong or inferior about speaking like that, it's called vernacular. And yes, plenty of white folks use it too, but then they are often called whiggers (!!!).
It may be argued that there is a right, civilized way to speak English, and that people of any race ought to conform to this manner of speaking if they wish to advance themselves in our society. But to conflate such a "right" way of speaking with whiteness and a contrary "wrong" way of speaking with blackness, and to imply that people of color should conform their speech to the proper (white) way of speaking if they wish to ever be taken seriously, smacks too much of colonialism and white supremacy.
And lo, behold, it's what we hear all-too-often in this day and age (don't believe me? Try scanning the comments on the video above).
The reality is that the young poet in the video above is beautiful, intelligent, well-spoken, and -- yes -- black; there's no reason that this confluence of traits should come as any surprise to us. She might as well be the average black girl.