There goes my inbox again.
This time it’s a short quip on the state of California. Intended to be funny, I assume. It pokes fun at the state of our budget, plastic surgery, our gay community, our energy crisis, our Spanish-speaking (often bi-lingual) community, and gang violence.
It reminded me of a dinner party I attended a long time ago. Once the host heard my Southern accent, sneaking out thanks to a glass of wine, I was “treated” to jokes about marriage between cousins and Deliverance (curse that wretched film!). I was appalled. It was only the worst incident in a long string of “playful” jibes at my Southern accent, and insinuations that my accent shaved a good 50 points off my IQ. Folks that wouldn’t dream of poking fun at the accent of a colleague from Russia or India or China, found me fair game.
Since those days, I keep my Southern accent tucked away. It only feels safe when I go back for family reunions. I may be legal, I may be a natural-born American citizen, but I’m still an immigrant to California. Like so many other immigrants, I’m supposed to adapt to fit into the social norm.
I’m looking forward to reading Unaccustomed Earth.
It’s really so sad. A good friend of ours gets/got this type of grief from her FAMILY! She grew up in the south and has a very soft accent right now, but her MN extended family gave her no end of grief about it when she moved up to MN years ago. One uncle was particularly cruel apparently. She is a sweetie who has mostly forgiven behavior from 20 years ago, but i was still shocked to hear her story.
So, I have to say, I’m loving my job so far, but you’ve given me yet another reason. I’ve found myself comfortably slipping into my southern accent, talking about the way Mama trained me to say “five” (but forgetting “nine”)… and people smiling and nodding with completely understanding, getting to the punchline before I do! Yes, I’m working for a NASA contractor… filled with smart people who know better than to underestimate a southern accent. Mostly because they have one, too ^_~