For the vast majority of my life, I grew up in a black household among black people. And by “black household,” I mean one where what I’ve come to know as black linguistics, colloquialisms, musics, seasonings and conversations were the order of the day, not intentionally, but by the good Lord’s design.
I spent most summers with my white mother in various parts of southeastern Michigan (moving west from Ypsilanti to a final residential location of Jackson, Mich., about an hour-plus from Detroit) and never really thought to pay attention to any differences. For one, my mother, while a Michigander in residence, is a French immigrant, so there’s a whole different set of cultural norms at work, but also, who pays attention to that type of stuff when you’re 13? I was too busy rocking DJ Quik.
But as I’ve gotten older and started paying attention to cultural differences, one of the most noticeable has been the lexicon that is par for the course for everyday conversation amongs my peers in both an ironic and unironic sense. Here’s the thing: I have no idea if any of this shit is actually “black” or if I just don’t know enough white people to know if they also say similar things.
While those “Stuff __ People Say” videos were all the rage for their comedic value, the truth is, they landed on stereotypes that I’m comfortable with because they fit my life. On the flip side, I wonder if black folks are the only ones who say certain stuff. Stuff like:
1. I wish a motherfucker would!
Real question: Do white people who didn’t grow up around black people say this? It seems so ethnically flavorful, imbued with the spirits of the Motherland. But perhaps my implicit bias is showing its pretty little head. I’m truly curious if there are white people who say this as part of their regular scheduled programming. Hell, I actually sit at home and THINK about stuff that I wish a motherfucker would do JUST so that I could say, “I wish a motherfucker WOULD ... ” It’s a thing.
2. Oh no she didn’t!
Be clear—it’s important to put the right emphasis on the right syllables here. So I’m not simply saying, “Oh no she did not.” I’m saying, “OH no she DIDN’T.” Like every self-respecting annoyed person of color would do. OK, I have no idea how other people of color say it. I’m projecting. I’m a projector. Movies.
3. You bet’ not do XYZ ...
Well, we know that Trump recently said that North Korea best not, so I’m going to assume that non-POC absolutely say this because Trump is out here showing his best whiteness. And Southern white people absolutely would say “bet’ not” if Trump—a non-Southerner—would say that somebody best not.
4. You got me fucked up.
This seems like such a simple and accurate statement that I wouldn’t be surprised if every racial, ethnic or Facebook group has its own version of it. “You got me fucked up” should be on bumper stickers in Siberia ... if it’s not already. Truly, it’s one of my favorite sayings regardless of the situation. If white people don’t say this, they probably should. (I kind of assume this is one of those statements where if white people do say this, it’s the Southerners.)
5. What had happened was ...
This is the stripper-named-Diamond standard of what I presume to be black statements. I’ve never heard a nonblack person say this, in real life or movies, whereas it is a staple of the black community in all of its “What I’m about to say is about to be some bullshit” glory. Is it only black or nah?
As with everything else on this list, inquiring minds would like to know: Who else says these things?