Growing up in a military family it was normal to have neighbors in Base Housing from all corners of the nation. South Boston, South Carolina, the South-Side of Chicago, Southern California and every place in between. At an early age I could tell only a few words into a conversation if a Marine or sailor with a Spanish surname was from the Rio Grand Valley of Tejas or from East L.A.
Something else I learned rather early in life – people take their cultures and sub-cultures very serious and just as personal.
- If you’re not a Samoan, don’t start popping off to Samoans that you’re their bruddah. You aren’t.
- Just because you’ve watched all three Godfather movies doesn’t mean you can call every Italian your good goomba. You aren’t.
- Lost in Compton? Don’t roll up to black guy and try to get his attention by yelling “YO! My MAN!!” He isn’t.
Like I said, people take pride in where they’re from and most certainly don’t particularly appreciate it when an outsider steals any part of their cultural identity. Doubly so when done poorly. As someone of Pacific Islander heritage on my mom’s side, I know I take it as insulting when a haole (or any other non-Islander) tries to come off as one of the che’lus with an over-the-top Pidgin English accent.
That’s why I can’t understand why Barack Obama consistently gets away with his fake “street” accent. I’m pretty sure the Choom Gang bunch of pot smokers and coke snorters he hung out with during his Honolulu high school days at the rather expensive Punahou School all sounded nothing like Jeremiah Wright, but that’s just a guess on my part.
Could Obama picked up his habit of dropping his Gs while matriculating at Columbia University? Did he pick up the habit of leaning on the lectern while at the Harvard Law School? I should certainly hope not.
Perhaps the individual who was present at Quentin Tarantino’s making UC Santa Cruz Fighting Banana Slugs t-shirts cool, Samuel L. Jackson recently corrected Obama’s habit of failing to speak English with decorum and dignity:
First of all, we know it ain’t because of his blackness, so I say stop trying to ‘relate.’ Be a leader. Be f***ing presidential.
Look, I grew up in a society where I could say ‘It ain’t’ or ‘What it be’ to my friends. But when I’m out presenting myself to the world as me, who graduated from college, who had family [that] cared about me, who has a well-read background, I f***ing conjugate.