The Dialect ick

So I’m aware that this marks me as a lazy, poor teacher, but I just hate that class in every fiction workshop where someone shares a story that includes a non-transparent cultural dialect (to my mostly white middle class and white middle class by proximity students), and the whole session becomes bogged down in obsessive discussion that does little more than expose everyone’s barely concealed racism. The less is more lecture is powerless when students finally find an opportunity to talk about race and class via the only science they think they understand–linguistics. But also, the less is more lecture feels disingenuous and oppressive at its core. What is accuracy, and why does it feel like too much? [ooh. discussion topic for class? back-pocket that one.]

Ah, the dark and awful excitement that spills forth . . . especially when privilege tries to establish credibility. “well, I spent five years in Georgia” or “I’m a youth mentor in DC.”  It’s like watching a kid touch her hair with a Wizzer top going full speed. You want to say, “don’t do that,” but you know they can’t help it. Of course, I teach in Virginia, so there’s that as well.

ps-we also had the “An alcoholic wouldn’t drink Jack and Crown Royal” discussion. Oh jeez.


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