• Tash Jefferies

The “Wassup Guuurl!” - SPAM Story #1

Upon meeting me, many people across the US presume that I’m familiar with African American vernacular, slang and jargon. While I listen to rap, have American family members, I must admit, it is not something that I use on a daily basis. Also, being a African Nova Scotian (Canadian), we have our own slang, that is extremely different from what exists south of the border.

I’ve now how multiple times where people spoke to me differently because of what they saw on the outside, which really made me scratch my head. But the following SPAM story has to take the cake :).

Situation - A straight white male saunters up to me and says “Wassup Guuuurl!”

Preconceived Result - The white male will be considered "in", build rapport, and create an instantaneous bond with black female, upon this introduction.

Actual Result - I’m African Canadian (which big news, means there are a lot of differences between us and African Americans), so the presumption that using a culturally-specific greeting builds rapport was definitely the wrong route to take. Not only did I feel uncomfortable and RARELY (even with other Black individuals) do I give that greeting, it ended up making me feel uncomfortable and out of place. My response, with of course a raised eyebrow was. “Hi, and…. I’m Canadian?!”. :)

Moment of Questioning, Moral and Move Forward Action - Have you ever been on either side of this situation? How did it make you feel? Would you experience it again?

I think the best thing to learn from this story is to understand the power of presumption and just don’t do it. Whatever your usual way of engaging with individuals is, then do it across the board, unless you already have an established relationship with that person. What made this worse is that I’ve seen this individual greet other men and women in the manner that I would have appreciated “Hi! So nice to meet you.”

If you’ve had a similar experience (on either side!), I’d love to hear how you dealt with it below, so we can all learn something :).

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