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Street Talk 

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finn.qxd

I ask that you pass along my thoughts to Melissa King regarding a comment of hers in her "It's All in the Game" article in the September 11 Reader.

The passage that caught my eye was the following: "I can't actually say 'I got skills,' or 'My bad' or 'I got next' or any of that stuff. I hate it when white people try to talk street."

Perhaps you didn't mean much by it, but that passage is at least dumb, and more likely racist. You don't say why you hate it when whites TRY TO talk street, but I can only suspect it is because you are saying that you think that white people necessarily were not brought up in an environment to speak that way naturally, and so that white people speaking that way are being insincere, are trying to act cool, are putting up a facade, and/or trying to act hard or something along that line.

That isn't true. Although you might not be one of them, there are a good number of white people in this world who grew up "in the streets" or in black inner cities or ghettos or whatever you want to call those areas. I grew up in such an area in Milwaukee (yeah, Milwaukee has a typical inner city too) and such speech was common for whites too, and actually was uncommon for a lot of people in that area of any race. Sometimes while playing basketball--or in any conversation--I might use "street" phrases you hate to hear whites use, but I know that I do not talk that way for the purpose of any facade. The same is true for my friends of various races. It is just contrary to reality to think that any black kid who talks "street" does so naturally and without any facade, and that any white kid who does is putting up some kind of front.

Actually, if talking "street" sounds moronic, it does so for everyone. This is particularly true if the speaker's reliance on slang or "street" language REPLACES the speaker's command of proper language and/or the ability to communicate. Again, it'd be racist to think otherwise. Other than that, I liked the article.

Daniel Finn

Chicago

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