Proper English is taught in school, all throughout our adolescent life. In fact, it is also taught throughout colleges too. Why? Because when you are speaking professionally, sending a work email, writing a resume, etc., you need to use proper, professional language. If you use slang or ebonics, chances are that you won’t get that job, or your email will not be well received. We live in a world of impressions, especially first impressions, and once those are ruined, it is nearly impossible to change.
A college junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is climbing her way up the Liberal ladder of fame after she stated, “As a white-passing person, I have a lot of power and privilege that should be shared.” Now she wants schools to allow blacks to speak ebonics, rather than have to learn proper english.
UW-Madison junior Erika Gallagher conducted research about code switching, also known as code meshing, in which people change their regular speech tendencies to fit into the mold of what is commonly accepted as appropriate.
“I want to center the voices of the people who need to be centered,” Gallagher said. “As a Writing Fellow, as a white-passing person, I have a lot of power and privilege that should be shared.”
Gallagher conducted much of her research through three interviews. She talked to UW-Madison student leaders from marginalized groups and asked how they felt about code switching. She said all three “overwhelmingly” said it felt oppressive—one said “it is the biggest form of cognitive dissonance that exists.”
She presented her research at the Collegiate Conference on Composition and Communication in Portland, Ore., earlier this semester. She was selected as one of roughly two dozen undergraduates from across the U.S. to participate in the conference, which is typically attended by graduate students and professors.
“Just because you speak a different way doesn’t mean you’re not smart, but there’s a huge stigma around it,” Gallagher said. “I want to teach [educators] a different rhetoric, teach them to be more accepting.”
It is perfectly fine to speak how you want when you are outside of the classroom or the office, but to teach this type of unprofessional communication would be detrimental to social skills in the business world. Where would they be able to get an actual job?