Professor Claire Laville
English 101-008 (1 PM)
12 September 2014
Code-switching “is used to align speakers with others in specific situations (e.g., defining oneself as a member of an ethnic group)” (Johnson, 2000, p.184). I believe everyone code-switches in society just for the sake of fitting in. Many people hate standing out but love being part of the crowd. I admit that I have code-switched and I always feel guilty after doing the act. Altering my self-identity to blend in with a certain group makes me feel less than the person I am, it makes me feel like I have no dignity.
My grandmother has always told me to stay true to who I am. Some days, it’s often difficult to follow her advice; for the sake of having multiple friends, I attempt to conform to certain atmospheres. I’m mostly successful in conforming, but I find myself either filtering my words or saying things that I normally wouldn’t say. Efforts in fitting in or always worrying about saying the right thing tend to become herculean. Thankfully, I know that I can always be myself around my closest friends; they never seem to truly judge me.
I have noticed some of my friends code-switching as well. My friends and I were casually walking around our neighborhood and we came across a group of other kids, mostly white; all of my friends identify themselves as African Americans. The kids invited us to hang out with them that night, explaining that they were going to sit around a bonfire and drink beers. Later that night, we arrived at the house and indeed they were sitting around a bonfire drinking beers. There were multiple conversations that began to take place that night, including some that involved my friends. I was able to overhear most of them and I noticed that one of my friends was using advanced vocabulary that I have never heard him using before. Not to say that my friend was incapable of using certain words, he’s definitely intelligent, but it was the fact that I have known him for most of my life and he has never spoken in that way before. Not only did his vocabulary change, his voice did as well.
The night of the bonfire, I gained a new perspective. Being able to see what code switching looks like from a different point a view, made me imagine how ridiculous I look when I attempt to do the same. One should never feel pressured to modify oneself just for the sake of fitting in with a certain ethnic group. There is a certain gratification one receives when a group accepts the person who his or her actual self. Being in college for my first three weeks has also given me a new perspective on my identity. I promise to no longer code-switch because that’s not the person I wish to be. If a certain group cannot accept me then I do not need to stress myself out by trying to fit in; I hope others will realize the same.