Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yes, I Speak English - I'm Supposed To

Ok, we have a President named Barack Obama; you would think people would have got a clue that just because a name is perceived "unique" like mine (or the President's) doesn't mean the recipient is less American.

Seriously!!! Sometimes I wonder how my parents handled ignorant perceptions as African students in America in the 70s. So here they have an American-born daughter and folks (especially those who look like her) asking stereotypical questions just because of her name like what dialect did she grow up with or act surprised if the answer is "English."

Oh "I noticed you speak English so well!" And of all places, someone in South Florida telling me I speak English so well - seriously! That was what happened to me this afternoon while taking care of some personal business. I mean South Florida where you could hear Creole, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Patua, and sometimes, English depending on what neighborhood you find yourself had the unmitigated gall to be telling me he thought I would answer "Swahili."

Ok, first of all, Swahili is one of Kenya's dialects - not the "OFFICIAL LANGUAGE" (to the surprise of the culprit) and my parents are not Kenyans. And by the way, my parents of diverse tribes (which within itself will make me write a book someday) had to get along with a common language i.e. English.

So please, next time you see my name don't assume. Well, assume I could hold my own in a communication in the English language (and a language you won't know), and I humbly say, better than most since my parents were strict on not speaking in "slangs."