I’m too warm in my accented box


Round your words off perfectly

Ensure that you r’s are silenced

Your k’s should not be too harsh

You see, “If I spoke the way people of my skin colour spoke, I would fall victim to this stereotype that has been established for my people”*in Coloured accent*

My tongue rolls incessantly throughout the day

And I’ve been told that I sound educated

I was once commended for the way I articulated myself in a debate

The white man said, “Your command for the English language is great, especially how you were able to articulate yourself.”

Oh why, of course, it is unusual for Coloured people to express themselves in the same language of our colonisers

And we applauded them with our silence and inability to stand up for what we believe in

Sitting in silence, teeth marks on our tongues, brittle teeth

You see, I am not upset that this poem is in English

I am upset that my Coloured accent is immediately associated with an uneducated human being

Yet my English is overactive

My knowledge of the English language will command your respect, will consume you whole, irrespective of what accent I choose to express myself in

My English has allowed me to sound White

Because White is equivalent to being educated, right?


I don’t speak the way I do as an attempt to sound White

I speak the way I do because that’s the way I was raised

My accent does not mean I’m better

It just means that I was lucky enough to attend the school I did

School Badge
Image sourced: Kingsridge High School for Girls

That I was even afforded the opportunity to afford attending an institution of Higher Learning

Image Sourced: Rhodes University

My accent simply means that my tongue rolls slightly more than yours

That my mouth is always more rounded

And often my jaws are not clenched

It means that I need to switch my accents in between people so that they can have a certain image of me

How dare I speak in an English accent to my Coloured community?

The audacity to do that, to disrespect them, to be a constant reminder of what was never in their reach.

How dare I remind them of their circumstances!

So I change my accent around them

I change it around other races to appear as though I’m on their level.

But it’s time

It’s time for me to unclench my fist

And free myself from this box I have been put in

The way I have been boxed in

This box is becoming too small for me

It’s been too warm in here for too long

Feature image taken by Charissa Cassels








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