“code switching”

Unit 1 – In Unit 1, with President Quillen, we focused heavily on identity.

Within this unit, we read a work by Frantz Fanon. In this text, “Black Skin, White Masks” he spoke heavily on the idea of code switching. Code switching is the act of changing your natural tone, diction and word choice depending on who you are around and or speaking to.

However, when Fanon explains the idea of code switching he taps into its ability to dehumanize people of color. More specifically black men. Fanon explains the connection between being considered a human and being white. The whiter a black man is, in characteristics, the more human he is considered to be therefore, treated.

Fanon’s focus through this work is heavily influenced by the idea of language. The idea that a black mans vernacular is used against him. His own true state is used to dehumanize him. Therefore, when the black man works against this by code switching it is a sense of defying his blackness, defying his true state. This then brings me into the perceptive of letting the white man win, allowing the white man to dehumanize him.

My interest in this reading sparked due to my ability to code switch and how often I do it. I have conditioned myself in a certain way to “talk white” to feel accepted, to feel as though I am valued the same as others. This also has a very deep connection to my time at Davidson. The entirety of my time at Davidson was not my true comfortable speech, around 90% of staff and students, I found myself code switching to make sure that those around me whom, I felt were doubting me could see that although I was not at all like the majority, I belonged. I had worked my way into Davidson the same way they had however, I felt as though that did not matter if I spoke in my natural tongue.

The act of dehumanization has been so deeply embedded, we have began to dehumanize ourselves.

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