My Barely Accent

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 21:51 -- aljoe

My slam coaches and judges tell me

That I mumble too much


Something about how I speak when I’m on stage

I have this almost drawl

This way of swallowing words and letting them fall off my tongue


That my slight accent sounds like I'm trying to be something

Almost as if my Native accent is the sound of European countries colonizing

We have that twang of English

And the sharpness of Spanish

And the way we gargle vowels and constants like in Navajo

Swishing language around in our mouth

I guess that this is what a rez accent sounds like

Choking on our history

And hoping people understand


The sad part is I don’t even know Navajo

I can count to 10

I can say hello, good morning, this way, that way, no, nothing

I can say nothing in Navajo


People who I barely consider friends

Tell me that my I barely have an accent

I just don’t talk right

My slam coaches don’t recognize it

And say it’s just a bad habit

A bad habit that has stuck to me

Stained my skin like blood

Like red


See Natives,

Natives have a very distinct and pungent accent

It’s brash

And it makes people listen



I ignore my coaches

Let the sounds of English sit in the back of my throat

Feel colonization fighting its way back up

Waiting for me to spit it out


Show everyone that Natives have made these European languages their own

Show that I have made English my own

Show that I may not have “perfect” American accent


I will perform at slams

“Barely” accent and all


This poem is about: 
My community
Our world
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