Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oh....YOU'RE Brooke....

Happy Hump Day...even in this weather. I don't think I've ever wished for summer so hard this early in the winter. You know how by March, you can barely take it anymore and then spring gets here just as you're about to pull your hair out? Well, I feel like that NOW! but anyway...

...here's my REAL rant for today. Watch this clip - just the first minute or two:

Okay, I know "Brooke Dean" isn't the most ethnic sounding name in the world.....I know this.

If you see my name on a resume or an email, you might not guess that I'm a Black woman. I can form a sentence that has subject-verb agreement. I can string some words together that actually make sense. People understand the words that are coming out of my mouth. And even though I can be all jokey-joke with people at times when I may sound like Sarah Palin where I drop a "g" at the end of a word, trust me when I tell you I can speak proper English. Hell, it may not even be "proper"...it's really just STANDARD English. And dare I say, I have no accent...not even a "Philly" one.

Yet, when some people meet me for the first time after having only corresponded with me via email or over the phone, they always seem stunned to discover who I am.

"oh...YOU'RE Brooke Dean....uh....hello."

Then once they realize their ignorance is showing, they always try to cover it up by following with something ridiculous like, "oh...I thought you were...uh, SHORTER."


How does one sound..."short?"

But I've also gotten those who, in a drunken state at a premiere party, actually say it.

"oh...YOU'RE Brooke Dean? I thought you were White!"

(gasp!) did he just say?....yep, he sure did.

So I ask, "why did you think that?"

"I dunno, I guess because you sound white."

They say it like I deserve credit. And I'm talking about both White AND Black people.

What's funny to me is that I never heard that growing up. I attended a mostly White school all my life, all the way up through college. But it wasn't until my adulthood that I really began hearing people say that I "talk White." Isn't there something wrong with that picture? Should ADULTS be that ignorant? Even Ralph Nader accused Barack Obama of "talking White."

Once, a Black guy who worked in the mailroom asked me where I was from. I answered - Bensalem, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. He said, "figured...you soundin' all white." Every day after that, he would ask me a question to see how "Black" I was.

"Yo, B...you know who Jay-Z is?"

My response? "uh..Marvin, you don't have to be Black to know who Jay-Z is."

That had him stumped for about an hour. Idiot.

Sure, I can throw some slang around for comic effect or emphasis sometimes. I understand some Ebonics. But just because I recognize that there is a time and a place for everything and I can communicate effectively on every level doesn't mean I am less Black than anyone else. I'm no less "down." I'm always surprised that some Black folks actually still think that way.

And for White folks, why would some of them be surprised I can speak and write at my education level. I mean...really?

It irks my nerves that speaking standard English is synonymous with "talking White." Bad grammar is common among many groups of people. Not Black people. Not Latino people. Not White people. But IGNORANT people.

I just walk away.



Anonymous said...


Now on to the topic at hand. I NEVER EVER get anyone that says I look Puerto Rican. ONCE in a blue my spanish accent will come out (usually after someone has pissed me off) and then you know. Sounding "white" is a very ignorant thing to say although I've said it from time to time myself. What exactly does "white" sound like??? I think it's because we associate slang & "ghetto names" with blacks & hispanics. Meaning if you can pronounce it IT MUST BE WHITE! lol
I have to admit I HATE ghetto a** names & now that I'm pregnant it's something that I have thought of A LOT. Sorry BUT the baby WILL have half a chance when submitting a resume. We have picked two very simple names that have no ethnic significance what so ever! lol...


Tiswana said...

Oh, I remember that mailroom dude. If he were really black, he would've known that Kim Fields' character in The Facts of Life was named "Tootie" and not "Truvie."

Anonymous said...

But for real...you DO sound shorter on the phone. And if I coupled your name with your voice, You're not who I imagine. Not at all. Kind of like people that meet me say "oh wow..you have locks!" Not that you can hear hair on the phone, but yeah guess I'm so professional they didn't expect that.

Umm...would stop short of saying you sound "white". You KNOW what that means. But you definitely give off dainty in your professional voice. Now, your hanging out with Amanda gotta call you back voice, that sounds like Brooke Dean The Crazed Eagles fan. LOL

Brooke said...


Actually, he was calling her "Regine" cuz he was too young to know who "Truvie" was :-)

AnaJolia....wooo saaaaa! But I feel you...if someone would have pushed me I would have wanted to tase him too.

When I think of sounding "white," I hear a Vally Girl voice in my head...and Black people can sound like that too...so it really makes no difference.

Love the name Barack!

Dre...I don't sound SHORT! And are you tryna say I'm not really as "dainty" as my voice implies? Be careful how you answer that.

Crazed Eagles fan huh?

AnaJolia...can I borrow your shank "right quick?"

Anonymous said...

Brooke: sending you my extra shank right now.. catch! lol


Georgia Peach said...

OH MY. Brooke I totally understand how you feel people read my name and assume I'm british (go figure)! I can't believe this person actually said it at that party. So insane I remember you saying that one of your co-workers (EFB) always treated you weird at work before. It always irks me that people think skin color somehow determines intelligence. It's quite ridiculous and I hope we all remember that VP Joe Biden made a similar comment about our now Pres. Obama early on in the campaign trail. Just had to throw that in. Great topic today Brooke!

AnaJolia - I can come down there next time I work right across from Penn Station and I'm always itching for a fight girl.

E.Payne said...

I feel your pain, Brooke. I wrote about something similar last May...like you said, great minds. Check it out:



Anonymous said...

when I think dainty, I think weak
you don't give weak at all.
To me dainty is Hollywood skinny and 4 foot nothing. You're VERY feminine and sweet. That's what we hear in your voice. But you're a real woman.

I know someone with a valley girl voice and she's blacker than Flavor Flaaaaaaav. Someone take offense to that, so I can pull the shank out of my side and catch my own vic before I pass out from blood loss.

. said...

It’s ridiculous that folks would even say something like that to you. I remember the story you told me about when you went to the payroll office…crazy! Actually, I think I heard someone say something ignorant like that to you once…but he can be ignorant sometimes so I don’t think you were surprised or maybe that had to due with the fact that that wasn’t your first time hearing it.

Pretty Ricky What Dey Call'em said...

WHAT BROOKE... YOU'RE NOT WHITE??? WTF... You write white too. LOL

I can remember when I was in the 8th grade and I just finished for 2nd year of a six year stint at a Catholic School... and I ended on the phone with random dude is asked if I was black because I sound white. Fa Real B... I felt so bad. That really hurt my feelings. But to be honest, I have been very conscious of my communication with people...slightly changing here and there to mix in the crowd. Good or bad... it's what I do. However, I have to admit, that recently I have noticed that I could give a BLOG about my language around black folks. I found myself on business calls blurting out a TRUE DAT or a I'M SAYIN THO'. For real... I don't even notice when I hang up and say PEACE anymore.

The truth is, in Black America we still struggle to define what being black is and what our culture is all about. We are so far removed from Africa that we don't even identify with African Culture or Language anymore, so we are left to define a culture to identify with on our own.

And just being real... Brooke you can't say you didn't know what they were talking about then they asked, just like if you heard someone on the phone named abdulah jenkins speakin in slang on the phone. you know you would swear he was black!


Anonymous said...

This is a good one. Welcome to my world. Having the name Rene John-Sandy:

1) People think I am a girl before I read. Even when going to Syracuse's summer program they had me roomed with a girl based off that assumption but did not read the application.

2) They don't know what race I am. Many do think I am white. I have have some people say some racist shit to me over the phone not knowing I was black and I had to curse them out.

3) Many people of color think I am Haitian and I am not. TRINI to di BONE!

4) People assume that I speak French. Yes, I do but not because I am from French speaking country.

5) They rarely spell my name right.
I ahve issues finding Flight and travel information due to that.

Even when I roint out my name on a credit card application I will get the card back and my name will be spelled incorrectly on the card.

I know this is probably TMI..

Brooke, maybe you should start TMI Wednesdays...


Pretty Ricky What Dey Call'em said...

I meant to say in my earlier blog.. I could care less about my language around white folk

Brooke said...

I get it all the time, but my reaction usually depends on who's doing the talking. Some folks I expect to hear that ignorance from, others totally shock me.


EFB would email and call me all day, and have no idea who I was by face even though we worked on the same floor in the same department and were in meetings together. In one meeting, I sat directly across from her, yet she spoke about me as if I wasn't in the room. "Well, Brooke Dean's report says..." Meanwhile, I'm sitting right there. It got to a point where people starting looking around at each other everytime she did it like, "does she know that BROOKE is right there?" It was hysterical actually.

Yet NO ONE said, "uh...Brooke is right here..." because they all just assumed she was crazy. The look on her face later that day when she FINALLY realized who I was was priceless. PRICELESS!

Amanda, the payroll lady didn't think I was black either based on my name...and she was Black. And her name was Elaine Brown. Does "Elaine Brown" sound "Black" to you? Buffoonery.

B - I know what they mean...I always know what they REALLY mean to say...I'm just surprised that some actually DO say it!

Nice save? SO Dre.. you talkin about me behind my back? ;)

Whenever I say I'm hanging out with Rene, people always say "oh, who's she?" :) LOL!

Anonymous said...

Well Brooke at least you are being mistaken for an educated short white person....The first time I called a real estate agent to inquire about houses she thought I was a White girl from South Philly!!!! I mean have you seen the girls from south Philly??? That's how I knew I had to get out of there!!!!!! No offense to South Philly girls but you now it aint right to hike up your Catholic school skirt up to your butt crack!!!! or roll your sweat pants down to your George B*che!!!

And the sad thing as a Muslim with ghetto names is that they are actually Arabic names with nice meanings but to me do sound soooo Ghetto!!!!!

Serena W. said...

Brooke when I meet you in person or on the phone I'll start laughing just from this blog and say, "Girl I thought you were short from your blogs lol!" Just to crack you up!

That always cracked me up when people say..."Oh wow you're tall, you don't sound that way on the phone." What the...! So how do tall people sound and they have no response.

Now what I've been getting for years are people jacking up my last name, even after they read on paper or I state my full name they still call me Serena Williams! I once had an award that read Serena Williams! They had to redo the damn certificate!

I want to scream out, "No damn it! It's Wills!" One person even said, "I knew you were black because your name favors the tennis player." Are you for real!

So Brooke you can rant girl and I never got the whole concept of, "You sound short, oh you sounded white on the phone, oh I thought you were bigger (weight wise) lol." Just too much!

Annamaria aka AnaJolia I would carry my shank and the next time a mug pushes you on the subway...get em!

Serena W. said...

Rene...thank you for the laugh. I had a vision of you going to the mens floor at Summer Institute looking up your name when all that time it was on the womens floor in a pretty pink bubble or balloon next to your female roomates name LMAO!

Pretty Ricky I hear because when I first started out in Dallas working in the community when people would meet me after talking on the phone they would say, "We knew you were black after you said peace at the end of the convo or "sista." Not even knowing that I did it LMAO!

I think this could almost be a pre-Random Thoughts Wednesday or like Rene called it.."TMI Wednesday's...spit your business!"

Brooke said...

I'm sitting here trying to figure out what to write for my "25 Random Things About Me" post for Facebook since everyone is doing it. I feel like I'm always posting random things about myself, so what is left to tell right? I'm working on it for tomorrow so I can post both here on the blog and on Facebook...but it's harder than I thought :) But hey, if you wanna do a TMI Wednesday, we can. Or you all can go to my sister's blog and show her some love - she does "What's on Ya Mind Wednesdays" - so go leave all your comments there too!


Anonymous said...

yeah check me out or it will basically be an IM sight for me and Brooke to talk...LOL I know sometimes the subject matter does not relate but on Wednesday its for everyone...Brooke thanks for the shout out.....

shealace said...

OMG, what do you mean you are Black. You've had me completly fooled. Its over, I just cant bring myself to hang out with those Black people!

On another note, Brooke Dean is a purr-fect name.

Pretty Ricky What Dey Call'em said...

LOL... Brooke, Dre was not talking about you behind your back... I just liked his smoothness on that. It was so good...if he was single... u shoulda blogged him. (LOL.. Craig an nem created a monster) As you can tell I'm a ver liberal blogger. dammit if you or a grown man or women, my philosophy is if you want to blog..then blog dammit.

Peggy said...

I can't stand that type of ignorance.
I've gotten, Peggy??? A black Peggy and are you from the South??? Cause part of my last name is Jean and I hate when people pronounce it in English, but can say Jean Claude VanDam in French...annoys me!
I joke with my Hunny at times that when we get married people will be so dumbfounded when I give them my name over the phone and they see me walk through the door (a thick, dark skin lady with locks down her back. Woooooo Eeeeeee) LOL
He's Nigerian, but has a Italian last name. LOL
I can't wait to see the foolsihness on their faces.

Anonymous said...

Man, F DAT.

I'm done dealing with people's ignorance and flat-out stupid people. I'm at a point where there are a number of things I have no tolerance for. So when people say dumb ish like you've described or act stupidly, I call them out on it immediately and dismiss them for the stupid people they are. My attitude from that point on is not to deal with them in any capacity that I don't absolutely have to, because I don't want they're stupidity to attach itself to me.

I grew up in the HOODY-HOOD, but went to private school my entire life - majority-Black Catholic grammar schools (they turned out some of my city's best, so you know they closed 'em - lol), a majority white Jesuit high school, and then S.U. So I have no problem admitting I'm well-educated, and thus, I tend to reflect it.

I also was (and still am) a nerd. I literally used to read my aunt's World Book Encyclopedia's for fun. And I mean cover-to-cover. I read mad comic books, too. People mistakenly think I speak the way I do or know what I know cuz of my schools...a lot of my vocab and the way I speak came from reading and watching educational ish on TV.

I give that background for this reason - I talk how I talk, and I don't care if someone thinks it's too white, too Black, too educated, too Hood, too whatever. I feel like that's THEIR issue if they have some issue with my slang editorials (let's see who catches that abstract reference).

I also wasn't raised to judge people on their names. I mean, I admit - there are some names you hear more frequent than others in certain communities. Don't know a lot of white Maliks, nor do I know a lot of Black Brookes. But I don't stupidly think it isn't possible, nor do I have any reaction to it. I know Black Brookes, Heathers, Jens, Allisons, and Mistys.

Guess I always understood that the Black experience is not uniform either in upbringing, naming, vocab, etc. I really never needed to "learn" that fact. I was thrown off when I met my first Black people who come from millionaire homes - but not cuz they were millionaires, but because they didn't act like the snooty rich kids I had been used to.

Don't trip off of those people, Brooke. My boys always say I'm hard for many people to stomach cuz I just say it like it is, unfiltered, and that upsets people for a myriad of reasons. And my attitude about that is always "oh well - go to therapy, punk". Someone says something dumb about my name or my sister's name (her name is Lindsay, not the "Blackest" of names to some), I tell them they're dumb. Don't even let it bother me. IF you persist in your ignorance, then I proceed to break you down to your very last compound (I know y'all catch that one), and have fun logically breaking down why the person is such a dumbass.

It honestly never dawned on me to think anything about you when we became acquainted other than you're an intelligent, charming fellow alum named Brooke. I don't have time to waste brain cells on how Black you are or aren't due to stupid things like whether you're name fits into some ignorant archetype of what Blackness is or isn't. I leave my declarations of non-Blackness for coons like Clarence Thomas.

Sidenote - agreeing with those who have been mistaken for things they aren't...it wasn't until I came to S.U. amongst the diverse array of people of color we had that someone looked at me without knowing anything about me and could tell I'm Panamanian. When I grew up, people either didn't believe I was part Latino (the Latino population in Buffalo is like 95% Puerto Rican) or questioned why I didn't "look" Latino - not realizing Panamanians ARE Black and Indian mixtures in large part, historically speaking. So I feel y'all on that. Most people would see mi abuela (who is lighter, has a thick accent, and has a more cliched Latin look) and be like "THAT'S your grandmother? Damn - you really ARE Spanish..."

Yeah, dumbass. Cuz unlike you, I'm not insecure enough to be making up ethnic backgrounds cuz I have some deep-rooted insecurity and self-hate issue with my Blackness.

I don't even know if I had a point any more...I think I just vented. Lol! Oh yeah - F those ignoramuses and stupid people for saying anything about your name, how you speak, or how you are.

I excise all dealings and interactions with stupid people that aren't absolutely necessary - and when someone inevitably asks me why I don't mess with them/if I have a problem, I literally tell 'em - "I don't DO the stupid thing...you can get together with your stupid brethren and talk about stupid stuff and do stupid things". Or, my favorite phrase - "I'm sorry - but I realized how stupid you were, and don't want to catch your disease".

The Name Brooke works FINE for me...and I like you as you are.

By the way...not sure if I guest blog I'll do Bitchassness as a topic...too much to write...lol. Suffice to say, the guy in your mailroom seemed to suffer from it...

Anthony Otero said...

Brook, I feel your pain. I had just completed my first year at SU and I was excited to get back to the city and hang out with old friends. The first friend I called told me like I sounded white. He said it in that "oh you think you are better than me" type of tone.

The best one I get is when white people be are astonished that I am Latino. "oh...well I thought you were black"...

Of course there is my personal favorite that I get from Latinos from time to time..."oh well you dont look Puerto Rican.."

I would like to thank Marc Anthony for defining what Puerto Ricans look like.

Great Post...you sounding mad short today...lol

Brooke said...

Thank you Serena!

Peggy, it never even occurred to me that you have a "White" name - see?! I JUST thought about your name when I read your comment. Too funny..."Peggy Jean!" Ha!

Rameer and Ant, BOTH of you have me over here cracking up!

"I leave my declarations of non-Blackness for coons like Clarence Thomas."


"I would like to thank Marc Anthony for defining what Puerto Ricans look like."

I'm STILL laughing!

But I will say this, on another note...there have been times I've asked people what their background is and they have the nerve to get mad at me. They're like "can't you tell, I'm Jamaican!" I look at them like, "well shit, you look like me, how they hell am I supposed to know!? At least I asked!"

I found that when I got to college, people started asking me where I was from because they thought part of me looked like them. All my West Indian friends thought I looked like them, all my Dominican friends thought I had some "Dominican in me," Africans asked me if I was African, etc. Meanwhile I'd be like "I'm from Philly." :-) Funny how we see each other.

Brooke said...

Oh! and I meant to write "thank you SEANA"...SEANA!!!!

I typed Serena out of habit, but Seana left me a comment!! yay!!!

I think it's a purr-fect name too ;) We were just discussing at lunch taking on a spouse's name and I don't think anything sounds as good with "Brooke" than "Dean." but that's just me ;)

Anonymous said...

"You sound white" usually means you sound/ look foreign to that person. Example: A person from the hood that went to an all black public school in the hood never heard a Sista talk quite like you. OPPOSITE SIDE: A person from the burbs that had all of 2 minorities in their whole school probably never took the chance to know them. Hence foreign!

Brooke said...

You're right. And I find it crazy that I get those comments living here in NYC. I'm surprised at how people create their own little community in such a diverse city.

My favorite comment is, "I don't look at you as Black." Some people actually think that's a COMPLIMENT.

Tanya said...

When I came back after my first year at Syracuse, one of my old neighborhood friends said..."you sound white now..." I couldn't understand why he would have said that to me...and dismissed it. But it kept coming up...and I figured it was some individual's ignorance...but it irritates me to no end. I try not to let it bother me but it does.

As I work with young urban youth, who are in the juvenile justice system, failing in school and not focused on getting an education...they look at me and say I look like them but do not always sound like them. They say "Miss you sound mad white on the phone..." and I explain to them and try to model for them how to interact with others so that they get what they need and want with out being violent or aggressive. When I go to places with them...I always tell them...watch Ms. Howell...and they always chuckle because I can "flip it" and let people know in a professional manner what I need. I appreciate the time to model this for the youth I work with. I just don't think that enough people take the time to explain what it means to be educated or become frustrated with youth (and sometimes adults) who are ignorant. I am blessed that I had an opportunity to leave the hood temporarily and get an education...but I came right back and am working with the kids of my community.

Sorry for the rant...but I hope you enjoy my comments.

...btw...I can keep it hood...according to my kids too!! LOL

Brooke said...

I always enjoy your comments Tanya, I enjoy and appreciate everyone's comments!

It's great that you're an example to them. Not an example of what "being white" is, but of what an intelligent person sounds like. And you don't have to go to some fancy university to speak standard English. Sometimes I hear kids on the train saying "like'tid" (I don't even know how to spell that) and wonder how on earth they say words like that and don't HEAR themselves...but then I hear their parents speak and it's ten times worse! In most cases, it starts at home. My nephew Kyce is 4 and had a habit of using "her" as a subject - "her said I could have some." We don't know where he got that from, but either way, ALL of us were constantly correcting him. If you hear a child mispronouncing a word, you correct them, you educate them. This isn't something that you can only learn in school. People like you teach our children that, and I thank you for it. We need more teachers like you, and not just in schools. Thank you for being the role model and teacher that you are!

Pretty Ricky What Dey Call'em said...

You know how I know you are not black Brooke. Cuz you paid for your Ol' Skool Jammy Jam Tickets Early!!! So you purchase like you're white!!! LMAO

Brooke said...

And not only did I purchase a ticket early, I bought TWO just in case a friend wanted to come. And if I can't find anyone to go with me, then at least it's still for charity.


BTW, Vince is coming with me to your party!

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