He said "You talk proper"
And I knew the date was over
My tongue heavy with backlash and sarcasm
I threw my head back
And asked "What should I sound like?"
He said "You just talk proper"
Like my face didn't tell him
Shut the eff up the first time he said it
Like my cackle wasn't a warning
Telling him to put down his shovel
Nah, he dug deeper
"I talk proper?"
Am I missing gravel in my throat?
Does my voice not echo like sirens
And timbs against concrete?
Is my tone missing that
'Wifebeaters' and basketball shorts
Type of comfort
You're used to?
Do I not sound like a Brooklyn chick?
Do I not pop off
Do I not sound like I used to beat that block
Do I not sound like I be's the block
You know what, son?
Let me son you right quick, son.
Damn right, homie
I talks proper
Proper meaning the vernacular most applicable to the given situation and circumstance
When ah talkin to mi Trini massive dem
Mi say "Ah gon lime wit my padnas
Even wit Bernadette although she vex me so
An oh gawsh Kyle him look reaaaaal nice"
And I'll point with my lips like so
Tell me I talk proper
Tell me I talk proper 5 year old
If I know every toy's name on Doc Mcstuffins
My niece doesn't have to give me
A character breakdown for playtime
I sing Moana lullabies
Can tell her the launch codes
For rocket ships made of cardboard
I speak proper when I use things like flavors of ice cream
And other analogies
To define things like racism and sexism
In a way a child can understand
Proper is based on situation, time and place
Not a tone assigned to one race
My use of linguistics
Is not a metric to measure the characteristics
Or skin color of people I keep in my space
So don't look me in my face
And tell me proper is not me
Like I'm not royalty
every word that flips off the tip of my tongue
No I'm not bad & bougie
I'm bourgeois actually
Don't project your insecurities
About our educational inequalities
Try to make me feel like an Oreo anomaly
Cause I know "White" folk
Who don't know
Half the multi syllabic words I know
And Black folk with labyrinthine vernacular that would show
The ignorance in your idea of who holds
The deed of authority to the rules of colloquy
Am I speaking with clarity
Do you need a dictionary
I do hope you feel I responded properly