On our recent vacation to Arkansas, we heard the Arkansans talk in several mountain towns with their thick mountain/country accent, and it was a reminder again of how just a few miles away…culture, life, and language can vary so much.  I know that when we travel to the northeast, people there immediately note that we’re from the south by the way we say “y’all” so frequently.  And when I encounter someone that’s British, I immediately smile because I love to hear their accent so much.  In fact, I grew tired recently of my American Siri voice, so I changed it to an Australian!

There was a young girl that took my order while in Arkansas and she proceeded to tell me about her high school, and how her brother was her best friend, where she was going to college, etc.  I got in the car and tried to share with my husband what she said, in her same voice, and we were both amused.  Then we laughed, because we too have so many phrases that we honestly have tried to change over the years, because we just don’t like them!  We’ve worked hard to stop saying “we’re fixing to leave” and exchange it for “we’re about to leave,” a much more proper way to express ourselves!

I kept thinking about the different accents that show up in just a few miles of separation, and how depending on where you live, those around you affect the way you speak.  It seems that wherever you spend the bulk of your childhood life, that’s the accent you pick up and keep for the rest of your life.  I’ve met folks that have lived in America for a couple of decades, but grew up in England as a child, and they still have a thick accent from their country. 

Everywhere we look right now on the media there is social unrest due to racism, depending on the color of our skin.  But what about the accents that we speak? Is there prejudice there, as well?

I realized that the answer is yes, even in my own heart.  I found the young girl that took my order to be amusing and even deemed her as a bit unlearned because of the lack of grammatical correctness when she spoke.  And I felt very ashamed about that.  How could I, being a Texan (where every other word is slang!) judge an Arkansan for anything she says?  And yet, I did.

That girl was going to college, and the way she spoke had nothing to do with her intelligence, although I attached the two together.  Skin color, economic status, and so many other differences among us are the things that divide us, mainly because we attach mental capacity or even social etiquette to others, simply because of their differences.  They look different, talk different, and live different than we do, and we stay away, judge, and even chuckle at times because those folks are so “beneath” us.

I realized quickly, when I finished college, that especially education seems to set people apart and cause those condescending attitudes to rise.  The higher the education we have, the more we tend to separate peoples and language and status and community.  It’s very rare to see a young man or woman with Ph.D. fraternize with someone that never had a chance to finish high school, even though that second person might be “smarter than” the doctor!

I thought a lot about this as we drove back home, because I had hours on the road to do so.  I have patted myself on the back about not being prejudiced toward others, but I realized that I have a ways to go.  That girl at the food truck sounded unlearned, and I judged her as being so, because of the way she talked.  And that’s just not right.   I don’t like it when people judge me because I’m from Texas and occasionally pronounce words with a terrible southern drawl, so why in the world did I judge that young lady?

I want to continually take note of my own attitudes and judgments, and start laying more and more of them aside, in favor of noticing others in the light of exalting them above myself.  Funny thing, that’s what He said to do – love others as we love ourselves and offer them the preferred seating – because he knew we’d separate and segregate and sit in judgment instead.

That’s all I have to say at the moment y’all, but it’s definitely not all I have to think about…

For information about the above photo, click here...

Prejudiced, Still
by Marcy Lytle

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