Which isn’t the case lots of times. Saying just y’all in a meeting will — I guarantee you — garner more raised eyebrows than a profanity. For some folks, apparently, y’all is like wearing a sign on your back that says “I’m stupid!” Or so I gather from my own experience, which friends assure me is NOT isolated.
I shared this in the weekly writing workshop I lead, and each of us had our own anecdote (and more than one!) about being dismissed as ‘dumb Okies.’ Since there are several multiply degreed writers in any of my workshops, I find this telling.
A few years ago, I had a brilliant student from down around Durant, OK (Okies know to pronounce it DOO-rant). K spoke w/ the ubiquitous southwestern Okie accent — we all know it (and yep — WE can tease each other about it; WE aren’t outsiders). You know, like Boomhauer on King of the Hill?
K’s papers were exemplars of elegant logic — well-researched & well-written. When I told him how much I appreciated his keen mind, he hemmed & hawed, flustered. And then shared: Most folks thank Ah’m an idjit cuz of muh aksent.
I was furious. Not at K, obviously, but at a culture — a world — that teaches a young man to internalise bad appraisals of his worth because of where he learns to speak?? GET OVER IT!
Instead of fuming, I told K what I offer to all of us: I may speak with an accent, but I don’t think with one. NOT that it would matter to me if we did!