Filmmaker - Musician - Photographer

Understanding the Urban Dialect

If you are black, or you are someone who is not black but has black friends, there are certain things that you may have noticed in the black vernacular.  Here are a few with some offered explanations of each.

BASICALLY

You may find a young black professional using the word "basically" before he/she explains something very complicated.  What is interesting about The 'Basically' Phenomenon is that during the explanation you will find that whatever is being explained could have been expressed more basically. (Read that a couple of more times and you'll understand.)

Basically, what I'm saying is, when faced with an opportunity to be/sound professional, said opportunity is usually acknowledged with the uttering of "basically".  When we start a sentence with "basically", you know we mean business.

 

AT THE END OF THE DAY

I wanted to explain this phrase behind "BASICALLY" because that is usually how they are sequenced in actual conversation.  After the introduction and body of the "basically" statement,  the conclusion will begin with "at the end of the day".  For example:

Basically, what we're talking about is the oppression of a people, somewhat similar to The Civil Rights movement; whereas homosexuals are not afforded the same rights as the common man.  Now, I'm not saying that the Gay Rights Movement is equivalent to The Civil Rights Movement, as some would argue, but at the end of the day, we need a country where everyone is equal on the same levels.

NOTE:  This phrase should not be taken literally.  I don't want a stereotype that presumes all black people wait until the end of the day to make their point.  We don't do that.

 

IT IS WHAT IT IS

When black people are finished saying whatever it is they're saying, we may feel the need to remind you that whatever was said is not something else.  It is actually what is is.  Whenever you hear us say this, that means it is your turn to talk.

Here's where things get tricky.  We also say this when we don't know what else to say; even if what we've just said is a lie.  Simply put, it's another way of saying "lol".  Here is an example:

What you need to understand is that basically, men will always be men.  There's almost a primal instinct for niggas to lie to their woman, so when he told me he was wit' his boys I knew it was bull shit.  But, I don't care 'cause at the end of the day I'm still gettin' mines, so it is what it is.

This reminds me of my next example.

 

NIGGAS

There has been great debate over this one.  I think Reverend Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson tried to kill the word "nigga" a few years ago.  I mean that literally; they had a funeral for it and everything.  Remember that?  Next thing you know they'll be trying to kill words like "coon" and "wig wahm".

While I am not an advocate for these words, even the most militant brotha or sista msut admit that they are fun as hell to say when used in acceptable company.  For example:

I swear if that nigga Michael Steele don't stop coonin' around on that damn RNC tour bus, I'm gonna put my foot so far up his behind he'll be walkin' awkward all the way home to the rest of those wig wahms on The Hill.

See?  Again....not an advocate, but you know....it's whatever.

 

IT'S WHATEVER (and in some cases, OR WHATEVER)

*see "IT IS WHAT IT IS"

 

THE SITUATION

This one is my favorite, simply because it is so universal.  Anything can be a "situation".  Breasts can be a situation.  A business deal can be a situation.  A party, good or bad, can be a situation.  A pair of Jordans can be a situation. Et cetera.

Part of the reason why I hang on every word that Ray J says is because he uses this phrase so frequently, yet so appropriately.  For example:

So basically, Brandy had told me that I should holler at moms about the situation because, like, there's a lot of money on the table and I want to make sure my people had my back because I don't want to go into anything consulting the people that really care about them.  But, it's whatever.  I'm sure at the end of the day it's gonna be a good situation for everybody.

Quincy LedbetterComment