Oranges Speaking For Apples
Jeff Guo wrote an article in The Washington Post about how the Australian Iggy Azalea is mimicking African American speech, and the backlash she’s receiving for it (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/04/how-a-white-australian-rapper-mastered-her-blaccent/). The author labels Azalea an audiovisual gimmick, and the Donald Trump of the rap game because she’s a tall blonde Australian whose known to throw ugly rants.
A controversy broke out over Azalea’s dialect and shape of her vowels on her records after her release of her song “Fancy”. The female rapper Eve called it a “blaccent”, while other black female artist like Jill Scott called her tone of voice a big bite from black culture. Many critics find it offensive that Azalea would use an accent so obviously not hers.
While, reading I was amazed that Azalea was taking on another culture’s tone of voice. However, after researching who the author was and who the researchers in this article were, I realized they weren’t black. How could I talk about Asian American English if I’m not Asian or apart of Asian culture?
This article shows how black culture is being talked about, by non-black people, which I find offensive. It would be just as offensive, if they were studying Hispanic culture or Middle Eastern culture. For example, if Azalea was mimicking a Middle Eastern accent, and these same researchers analyzed Middle Eastern speech with no Middle Eastern representatives involved, it would offend Middle Eastern people.
It makes me ask the question, what gives Guo the right to say she’s mimicking another culture? Who also gave linguist the right to label another race’s speech as anything? Eve and Jill Scott’s small quote on the issue isn’t sufficient enough to represent black speech, which is apart of black culture.
Linguist Eberhardt and Freeman made up a term called African American English, however they admit that all black people don’t speak African American English. They go on to say that other races, raised around black people might speak African American English also. This shows the inconsistency in there argument that black people have a separate version of English (English was taught to black people by force largely during slavery by Europeans).