I have often wondered when talking to someone on the phone in the United States, you can immediately know whether you are talking to a black person or not. There is a distinct American black accent. It is the same in the south, the north, the west coast and so on. Even though, there are large differences in accents between regions, the American black accent spreads across the entire country.
This is uniquely an American thing. In Brazil, it is not possible to discern the color of someone’s skin by talking to them on the phone. Nor is it possible in the UK. Black people take on the accents and slang of their country. So why is that?
When I discuss this with white people, they say it is the American blacks refusal to integrate into American society. That seems ridiculous to me, because that would mean there was a secret meeting with a secret code among black people. I knew that the reason had to be sociological.
I have come to the realization that the root of the American black accent is the Plessy Ferguson decision. In the late 1800s, a court ruled that black people should be considered to be separate and equal in American society. This one decision could very well be the worst Supreme Court decision in the history of the country. This decision should have been considered unconstitutional but it remained the law of the land until it was essentially overturned by the Civil Rights Acts past in the 1960s. The reason it is unconstitutional is the word SEPARATE. We are the United States and not the SEPARATE states. Later in the 1950s, the national pledge of allegiance was signed into law, with the word INDIVISIBLE in the last line of the allegiance.
My conclusion is the reason that the American black accent exists is because American blacks across the entire country were separated and segregated from the rest of the country. In my view, black people did not talk to white people as much as they talked to each other. The same way that people from Boston do not talk frequently with people from Tennessee. For me, the American black accent is a symbol of the injustice of separating the black population from the rest of American society. There is also the hypocrisy of American society that prizes individualism, equality and democracy.
Of course, the ramifications of Plessy Ferguson go far beyond a distinct accent among black people. It is the roots of the deep seated racism in our country. Racism will always exist, but in the United States it is more pronounced and I believe we can point our finger at Plessy Ferguson. To be clear, since the Civil Rights Act, the lives of minorities and blacks in particular are substantially better. Each decade, racism declines, and equality increases. And of course, the American black accent becomes less pronounced.
I have lived in Myrtle Beach SC since leaving Gateway in 1999. Last year, during Memorial Day, numerous black people were shot and killed. This incident has created a local firestorm and the City of Myrtle Beach, the State of South Carolina and the surrounding counties have banded together to create a response to last year’s shootings. One Myrtle Beach employee commented to me, “We are going to send them a message that they are no longer welcome here.” For this reason, I have decided that I will leave Myrtle Beach for Memorial Day weekend. I feel their is trouble in the air. I do not condone the unruly behavior of tourists during Memorial Day Weekend, nor do I approve of the police state that this wonderful city will become at the end of this month. Many Myrtle Beach residence leave the area during this weekend, and some feel that our departure is racism. This is not true. I am not a racist, but this is a fight that I simply want no part of.