|Me:||Also, what did Beth die of?|
|Cari:||The 19th Century|
I despise everything
did you know she wouldn’t even let me have any fireworks at her wedding
I didn’t know that
not a single solitary firework
nor a footrace either
she wouldn’t even let me challenge the groomsmen to a feat of strength
well I’m afraid that’s fairly customary
not to have the maid of honor wrestling the wedding party, I mean
THEN I’M NEVER GETTING MARRIED
imagine having to get married without even one little roman candle
i won’t do it you know
all right, Jo
i’ll kill myself and all of you
but i won’t live in that world
Finally, someone who sees Jo March for the drama queen she is. (Also: I maybe hyperventilated at my desk when I saw “Texts From Little Women” pop up on Twitter.) And oh god, this is Laurie to a T.
[…A]lthough the sting of displacement is understandably harsh, too many black Washingtonians are doing their own brand of nouveau-Columbusing when it comes to the history of the city. Too often I heard claims of how newcomers were not respecting the history of neighborhoods they moved into. Or people throwing around words like “yours” and “ours” when referencing certain blocks. Every once in a while someone would approach me with a lengthy description of “The Plan,” the long standing conspiracy theory I’ve heard about since I was a kid that the current gentrification trends are part of a diabolical scheme cooked up by shadow power brokers.
But the wildest is the claim I heard that the District’s been Chocolate City “forever.” Actually, Washington’s demographic status as majority black, by strict percentage points, only goes back about 50 years.
Before that, the District was a segregated place, with blacks as the minority. But black communities strived on their own in many ways. When the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to the integration of public schools, white families took flight. Years later, after the 1968 riots, many neighborhoods that were once home to Jewish families and those of working-class white families became black enclaves.
—Clinton Yates has a must-read essay in the Post on the long history of neighborhood demographic change in D.C.
I call it a must-read because it’s refreshing and provocative and makes a broad point that more people would do well to remember: Cities change all the time, and your own lifetime or your parent’s lifetime isn’t necessarily the platonic ideal of how your city should be.
At odds with Clinton’s main point, of course, is this: You can’t talk about neighborhood change without noticing that the same types of people (poor, of color) are often shunted about at the will of people with more money (who tend to be, though aren’t exclusively, white). White flight doesn’t equal displacement. Choosing to leave is different than being property-taxed out.
Still, one thing I particularly liked about Clinton’s piece is that it forces a consideration of the bigger picture. In 40 years, when D.C. is completely different, well, what will we think of the ’80s then? It’s instructive to zoom out a bit and evaluate our feelings about 1950s D.C. when we talk about 1990s D.C.
My old editor Mike Madden argued that D.C. history post-1968 riots could stand to be be better understood, and is more relevant to the city’s new white residents than the old-timey District. I think that’s right, too. (Which is a reminder that this topic is so fraught and complicated and some things sound right and are right while other things sound wrong and are still right and all the other permutations of that.)
You don’t need to be a powerful politician to code-switch. For most people, it’s an unstudied habit. My dad didn’t understand what I had meant when I asked him about talking like that because it just came naturally to him. Have you ever heard someone living in America but from, say, Scotland speak to relatives back home? It’s like hearing them mutate into a completely different, unintelligible person in a matter of seconds. You probably code switch when you tell the same story differently to your grandmother than you do your college buddies, and it’s likely you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
This is interesting because I think it brings up the fuzzy line between code-switching and mirroring. (Some commenters were complaining that they are not the same thing.)
I’d say Obama is mirroring.
But also, mirroring has inauthentic connotations. And I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many black people who think Obama is being inauthentic when he slips into a looser style of speech. But chances are, he didn’t learn to talk like that until college or Chicago.
I don’t use patois or speak with a Jamaican inflection unless I’m around Jamaicans (please no one record me speaking this week) which I suppose is also more like mirroring than code-switching.
And one other thing: Most English vernaculars are basically code-switching, right? Whether you’re black or Latino or a teenage girl or write on the internet, you add and delete slang as necessary while maintaining the foundations of English.