So here’s what my brain keeps going back to, when it comes to AAVE vs. “just internet talk”.
There’s this dynamic on Tumblr… it used to seem really prevalent to me, and for all I know, it still is… where a lot of bloggers who are Black women and other women of color and trans* people of color would be bouncing ideas off each other and forming and modifying theories on the fly, and over the course of a single afternoon, BOOM – whole new model of discourse. Whole new terminology. Whole new ways of articulating their experience. Whole new ways of speaking to and about oppression.
And within 24 hours, white women would be using it to talk about patriarchy. White trans* folks would be using it to talk about cis-centrism. White gay folks would be using it to talk about heterosexism.
All with zero acknowledgment of where these terms came from, of who did the work of building the theory behind them.
And this is not something that is brand new to Tumblr, but it’s one of those things that the nature of the internet in general and Tumblr in particular accelerates and abets.
That’s true whether the language in question is “slang” or theory.
And it’s easy to shout that no one can own a word and that they belong to everyone… but it’s about who’s doing the heavy lifting and who’s getting the credit. Who has the greatest need for this language vs. who’s getting the most use out of it (or who has the most societal sanction to use it).
The words get picked up and circulated because they’re shiny and useful, the people who did the labor to produce them get left behind… expected to keep doing the work but not to benefit from it.
This is a perfect factual rundown of what happened to KBURD within a week after I created it.