To have an accent in a foreign country can sometimes be a heavy burden to carry, except when people love the accent. As soon as I utter a word I am bombarded with a barrage of questions, “Where are you from and how long have you been speaking English? When did you come to America?” I don’t mind answering such questions but after answering them everyday, after a couple of years it becomes tiresome. Some years back I started a new job at a factory. One of those jobs whereby a bell rings and everyone has to go for break at the same time. So of course the break room was always filled with people talking on the phone, queuing for the microwave, conversing with each other or having a mental calculation of how many hours were left before the shift ended. I definitely joined the last group since I was busy trying to hide my accent.

One person tried to strike a conversation and I tried to avoid it by just nodding, but he was so determined to draw a word out of my mouth. He succeeded and of course asked where I came from. I replied that I was from Mexico. The eyes almost bulged out of the socket, ” but you are black!” this was my chance to play the race card. “Does it mean that my skin determines where I come from?” end of conversation. I strolled leisurely back to my workstation feeling like a boss.

One thought on “Accents

  1. Wow, what a story! I am not a native speaker of English. I am aware of the fact people of color get oppressed by their accents of English, or just racism. After experiencing the similar situations as you had, I think language is a such a powerful tool to express, to fight, and to own one’s rights. No language, no power.
    However, I don’t think it is wrong to have accents. People just intuitively post stereotypes and judges by one’s languages capability about what his background might be, what kind of environment he grew up with, or even essentializing what he is supposed to be. Having accents is not what we want. It is stapled into our language variations. We need to acknowledge that we probably will still have minor accents, even we work on it so hard years after years. But we can get respect from out personalities, achievements, and other good personal qualities.
    Language is the tool. We need to manipulate it. But having an accent is not a deadly fault to our lives. No one should put so many judges on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *