A person often doesn’t realize they exhibit a cultural trait until they come in contact with people of other cultures, as per the common observation that you can’t truly know what it is to be an American until you’ve spent time in a different country. For example, it is often noted that many black American men have a certain way of walking (sometimes termed the short drop). This highly particular sequence of muscular movements is not taught, but subconsciously internalized by boys watching men. Another example: I once watched four black girls doing a dance routine they had informally worked up to a pop song. All four were doing the very same moves. However, one of them had grown up in a mostly white neighborhood and gone to a mostly white school. She was executing every step the other girls were, but there was a certain Element X missing, a very particular kind of connection with the rhythm of the song, a brand of attitude in the motions, that she could not pull off spontaneously the way the other girls did. One of the girls was only six, and yet “had it” just as two of the others did. The three girls had learned a way of moving to music from watching, feeling, and doing it since toddlerhood that the other one simply had not. Unsurprisingly, the fourth girl also did not have a blaccent.

– John McWhorter, Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths about America’s Lingua Franca (2016)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s