How AAVE shapes Gen Z
Featuring a coherent breathing exercise, MaJhane talks about how AAVE shapes Gen Z. If you are interested in the transcribed version of this episode, click here. If you want to stay updated be sure to check out this page!
Happy Black History Month!
I know we are a week in, but it needed to be said! We’ve been through so many black history months that you don’t want to keep hearing about the same people in history. Yes, they have done amazing things, but I think it’s also important to talk about things that are happening currently. With that being said, I want to focus the conversation on something that has been bothering me for some time.
How AAVE Shapes Gen Z
In case you didn’t know, I love Tik Tok. I get a lot of information and inspiration for my daily life, which positively impacts me. But, at the end of the day, it is a social media app, meaning sometimes I’m just not going to like what I see when I’m scrolling through my F Y P. More specifically, I’ve noticed a trend of how AAVE shapes Gen Z in the way they communicate.
Gen Z and Tik Tok
I have countless examples of how AAVE shapes Gen Z’s communication, but I’ll stick to one example for now. A couple of nights ago, I was on Tik Tik and came across this video asking to “tell me you’re a millennial without telling me you’re a millennial.” The person responding to the video shared that she posted something to her social media account, and people were responding in the comments with the blue hat emoji. This confused her because she had no idea what it meant. She took the opportunity to ask her intern, a Gen Z, what it meant. They then explained to her that it means “to lie.” Why is this a problem for me? Well, when did AAVE become a Gen Z thing? I was baffled that so many people agreed, claiming they don’t know what it means either because they are millennials…
What is AAVE?
Maybe you’ve come across this blog post and thought, “well, I’m a millennial as well, and I don’t know what that means,” and I’m here to tell you it’s because that is an example of AAVE! AAVE stands for African-American Vernacular English. There are many words for this: Ebonics, slang, even blaccent. It originated in the plantation of the American South, where black people were enslaved.
Enslavement vs. Slaves
I want to take this moment to explain the difference between enslavement and slavery. My ancestors were enslaved meaning they were captured and turned into a slave. When we make it a point to reduce that time period in American history by simply saying that black people were slaves, we’re actually doing them a disservice. We’re saying that is who they’ve always been, which is not true. It seems like a slight difference, semantics wise but it’s deeper than that. Here is a video you can watch that does a better job explaining what I mean if you don’t fully understand.
To Cap or not to Cap?
Getting back to the main topic at hand. I have seen so many videos on my for you page where people are giving Gen Z credit for Black culture. This leads me to believe that this is how AAVE shapes Gen Z. Using capping as an example, that word actually dates back to the eighties. Rappers were using it in songs to emphasize that they weren’t lying or making fun of people.
The beauty of AAVE is the fact that one word or phrase can transform its meaning throughout the years. Capping not only means that you’re lying or that you’re making fun of someone, but it could also mean that you’re going to bust in a cap in somebody’s ass! It really just all depends on the context of the conversation.
Black culture is everything!
Black culture is so rich and has a history that people keep trying to erase. Black culture is everything! AAVE is something that you know because it’s what you grew up hearing and learning about. It’s the language that the people who look like you use to communicate. It’s a beautiful thing. This is why it frustrates me so much when people try and give credit to Gen Z.
No hate to Gen Z!
When you go around spreading misinformation like this, it creates an already huge divide between cultures. Now I’m not saying that this is a Gen Z versus black culture thing at all. I actually really love the Gen Z-ers out there! They have this unapologetic attitude about their advocacy that I have so much love and respect for. However, part of accountability and using your privilege is to correct people when they’re wrong. There are just some things that you should be able to correct when given the opportunity or else it’s just the blind leading the blind.
The challenge for this week is to check yourself, plainly speaking. If you use AAVE and you’re not Black, maybe you should look into why. Are you using these words because it sounds cool? Have you done your part to educate yourself in case someone asks you about it? Honestly, I have been a perpetrator of this as well. There have been times where I use words that I don’t know the background of or if it’s culturally responsible for me to use it. I’ve made it a point now to check my vocabulary and adjust accordingly! Make sure that you’re doing your part. Try not to continue the spread of misinformation. If you see somebody else making that mistake, correct them.
If you find this information helpful, be sure to check out my other posts! Until we meet again, please be kind to one another, and from the bottom of my heart, I love you.