Ask Agatha: “Should I Correct A Black Coworker Who ALWAYS Misuses Words?” » VSB

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Ask Agatha: “Should I Correct A Black Coworker Who ALWAYS Misuses Words?”

Dylan from Cincinnati, Ohio asks:

Girth or length? Asking for a friend.

Um…have you met women? We want both. And if you don’t have both you better be really fucking interesting and by interesting I mean rich. And by rich I mean okay with us seeing other people—like your big swinging dick daddy while you’re at work and sometimes when I’ve sent you out to get eggs because we’re out of eggs, but I want the organic eggs from the Whole Foods across town so you’ll be a while which is good because your daddy’s Viagra just kicked in and we’ll need a minute.

Hey Papi.

(Editor’s note: You’re a weirdo.)

Arielle from Baltimore, Maryland asks:

So I was watching a new kind of “round table debate” the other day and they were talking about feelings getting involved with sex (aka getting attached because the sex was so good). Someone said, “Fuck with your pussy, and not your heart.”

I wanna know what you think about that.

Honestly, I often find myself getting a little attached in the wrong situations. I have a (for lack of a better term) “fuck buddy.” Of course, I know it’s only sex. It was always only sex. It may always only be sex, but I want a relationship. The sex is explosive! Never been so sexually compatible with anyone in my life, except this guy. He brings out a wild side of me that even I didn’t know. Oh, the tricks I’ve mastered!

But the more sex we have (read: every other day/sometimes every day of the week), the more I begin to think, “I really like this guy. We vibe so well. Our personalities and mindsets are just alike. We hang out more often than we used to.” Do you think it’s just the sex talking?

Mind you: It began as us just using each other for sex. He worships my pussy and vice versa. It’s just that amazing. Could our sexual chemistry ever become more or should I “fuck with my pussy, and not my heart.”

Two points.

One. This is the longest question on record. (Don’t no one else send me a question this long.)

Two. You see each other every day? Y’all dating. That’s your man chica. In fact, I have a feeling this is the best relationship you’ve ever had. I wouldn’t fuck with it by “having a talk.” Having a talk implies he has a decision to make, but that ship has sailed.

Y’all go together.

Your best bet is to slowly start adding other things to your daily activities. But be slick.

Don’t ask him to take you on a date. Tell him you want to have sex in the park and when he shows up break him off a little something, and then lay out the blanket for your picnic basket. Now you’re on a PICNIC!

Don’t passive aggressively tell him he doesn’t do anything for you, just tell him you’re sick but not until he’s at the door.  Then ask him to heat up a can of soup for you and after that ask him to rub your back. Now he’s playing nursemaid. NURSEMAID! (And tricking someone into doing something for you, tricks them into rationalizing that you must’ve been worth doing the favor for therefore they must like you. That’s the Benjamin Franklin Effect. Look that shit up. It works.)

And, don’t invite him to meet your family. Instead have him pick you up because you’re “stranded” and whoops everybody just happens to be hanging outside. Unless he’s an animal he’s going to allow introductions.

And that’s when you drop the “boyfriend” title in his lap.

But by this point, he won’t even skip a beat because he’s long since accepted that that’s who he is.

Also phrases like “fuck with your pussy and not your heart” sounds like the sort of advice pimps give. You need to watch different roundtable debates.

Kristen from Manhattan, NY asks:

My one black employee is always using words slightly out of context in staff meetings. For example, “I garner we all share the same opinion.” I feel like I should tell him but don’t know how to broach the subject. Any advice?

I never learned how to code-switch well. Some people are on automatic when it comes to code switching and some people are driving a stick shift. I’m driving a stick shift with a tricky clutch. At work, I spend most of my day talking all kinds of shit to my friends in our group chat. I’m super proficient in shit talk. It’s my first language. And then my boss, an Oxford University PhD professor, will ask me a question and I stutter. And my tongue gets tied. Because my brain can’t figure out a way to say “nigga I guess” in office speak.

At all times at work, there are two narratives running through my head. And so I’ll say garner when the word is gather but in reality my mind wasn’t even thinking “I gather we all share the same opinion” but rather “so we all good?”

And I feel like this might be what’s happening with your coworker because presumably you’re all equally qualified to be at that staff meeting.

And I know however inarticulate I can be in front of my coworkers; I know I’m supremely qualified to be doing what I do. I was in AP honors all through middle school, high school and college so even though I may mispronounce words like respite, harass and sanguine, that doesn’t mean I don’t know what they mean. It just means that I haven’t often heard those words said out loud. Because my family speaks broken English and my friends and I have our own patois.

I’ve tried talking about this war in my head with one of my co-workers. He’s a young White male and he listens to a lot of rap and I thought he’d get it. But he didn’t because apparently he doesn’t ever have to change his jargon to match the in-group. Apparently, how he spoke at home and to his friends was how he spoke in the office. So I guess the rap had no affect on his speech patterns in the same way reading a book every other day has never had an effect on the “language” in which I think.

So my advice to you Kristen is to let his gaffes go.

It’s not your job to be his vocabulary tutor. And if you decide to make it your job I can guarantee you it’ll just make the work environment a more hostile place for him—your lone Black employee. It’ll just make him self-conscious and it’ll make him withdraw. And now you’ll have one less person, who you hired because of their qualifications, contributing their ideas. And that seems counterproductive.

So as long as you can parse through what he’s trying to say, don’t correct him.

Agatha Guilluame

Agatha is a figment of the collective VSB imagination.

  • Vanity in Peril

    That first question, though. #respect

    • Brass Tacks

      Dope because Alec Baldwin is that dude!

  • I get moderated one mo gin im taking my talents to Madame Noire or something

    • Tambra

      Seriously?

    • Wizznilliam

      Right.. The moderation on this site is crazy tight. Half the time you can’t even quote the author or even the titles of some or the articles. I imagine there must be some history behind why they have it turned up so high..

      • Tambra

        Well it forces you to think creatively, neologisms possibility.

      • Ess Tee

        It’s Disqus. I don’t know why it acts like that. The one plus is that you *can* type “fuck,” so there’s that.

        • Wizznilliam

          No. I’ve commented at other sites that use discuss. Some don’t block anything and some only block a few things. It must be configurable. This site is the worst one that I comment on. I just posted a comment with no curse words at all and it was blocked. I have no idea what I’m supposed to remove. Lots of times I just give up and move on.

          • Kas

            Got blocked for the contraction of “he will” including the apostrophe.

        • Buster Cannon

          Disqus has a language filter that can be toggled on or off; whoever the site owner is has to go in and change that. I think it just chooses a set of words that it thinks are offensive and screens them out. Funny how the f-bomb slides right on through though lol.

        • Tyrell Holmes

          fuck fuck fuck

          • Tyrell Holmes

            whattttttt it worked!!!!! good looking out

            • Wizznilliam

              Right… I’m trippin’!.. I LITERALLY can not post a comment with no curse words.

              • Lea Thrace

                can you say fuck?

                • Wizznilliam

                  crazy… Apparently it does not like that I put “he” with a “/” and then “she”.. And 3 comments of me trying to explain that have been blocked. I guess they (Disqus) are worried about transphobic comments.

                  • Lea Thrace

                    Yeah. He’ ll got me in moderation he!! just earlier in this thread. Disqus is a cruel mistress.

                • I think you just did lol

            • Ess Tee

              Hahahaha! Would I lie?

            • Fuck is the only curse word not filtered here.

    • Val

      Madame Noire? That’s not much of a threat. MN is Bossip lite. Just saying. Lol

      • Tambra

        MadameNoire is the epitome of the herd mentality, especially is it is man vs woman.

      • I be seeing you comment on one of those other Black feminist websites.

        • Val

          Black feminist? I comment at Clutch occasionally but I really don’t consider that a feminist website, at all.

          • It’s not that’s just the 1st descriptor that came to mind.

          • Clutch Magazine is an example of Poe’s Law in action. You can’t tell if it’s a parody or are they just that extreme.

            • Val

              Lol It’s actually gotten better. They mostly just present news now and rarely post any opinion pieces. And it was opinion posts that used to get them in trouble. But they still allow professional Black women hating trolls to comment without checking them. That’s the main problem I have with the site now.

          • Me too… but most times.. I just come here… It’s definitely more engaging.

    • Ess Tee

      Madame Noire? Where you gotta click 19071974107201 “Next” links just to read a two paragraph story?

      • Tambra

        Click bait central.

      • Okay global grind then

        • Ess Tee

          Don’t leave, Tristan! Don’t leave!

          • Enatiomer

            Lol, His upvotes really disrespectful these days .

      • KNeale

        I forreal stopped visiting blogs of any name after trying to read on Madame Noire. I thought the click through 25 times was the new wave and didn’t even wanna see what was out there anymore!! I hate it!

        • Ess Tee

          Thing is, Madame Noire is refusing to move with the times. Those multiple click-throughs for stories were really big in the mid-2000s, I guess as a means of counting high page views and traffic.

          They really don’t need to do that anymore. Yet and still…

  • OSHH

    #2. People be siking they own self out.

  • Honey_Dipt

    In the matter of Kirsten’s question… If it isn’t an egregious contextual error… Just be like Elsa, let it go…
    I am a code switcher extraordinaire but hell if I don’t have my lapses and they are usually unexpected.

  • Gbadebo

    Arielle…..literally do not do anything except go with the flow.
    You officially have it made. Amazing se x and you see each other almost every day. Yes….you are definitely dating at this point…but don’t do a da mn thang!!

  • I echo the editor’s note.

    I respect the hustle in #2 and I agree with the premise that they are essentially dating at that point. It does illustrate why you should attempt a tryst with women who really ever want to date you, but still find you attractive. Delicate balance to find.

    I’m confused about Kristen. She lives in NY. New York man. The city of English Second Language. As long as you understand what they’re getting at there isn’t a reason to waste time with making sure they “articulate properly.”

    • Mika

      I would be so focused on getting out of those long drawn out pointless meetings that could have been a simple group email. -___-

    • Ah, #2. The PG version of my dating (as in actual dates) history of the past two years LOL

    • Val

      Obviously Kirsten is worried about her Black co-worker embarrassing them both in front of White folks.

      • LadyIbaka

        I agree, totally!!

      • Kas

        Or maybe Kirsten knows he’s really smart and a strong team member and wants to ensure others see him in the same light. I say this as someone who is at a point in my career where what some other Black person says or does isn’t a reflection of me. This woman is his manager, so I would think she is viewed as highly competent.

        Shorter version: I am sometimes embarrassed for other people, but I’m not worried I am being painted with the same broad brush.

        • KNeale

          Eh. I don’t know. If thats her reason then we need to check ourselves maybe. Because I personally hate when other coworkers or people higher up then me, black people especially, try to coach me on how to be more presentable to white people instead of advocating for me. I’m not saying that everybody HAS to do that, because maybe folks don’t wanna put their necks on the line. And thats cool. But acknowledge thats what it is.

          • Kas

            I would say that using the correct words has nothing to do with being presentable for just white people, it’s just part of being a professional. In the instances where I have been in a position to hip a person of color to game, I have. Part of being able to advocate for someone is making sure they are seen in the best possible light for which to be advocated. Sometimes that is as simple as telling them, you need to go to a few of the after work drinking sessions. Other times, it may consist of coaching them on their interpersonal skills. You can hate the game all you want, but you are in the game. I’m a proponent of figuring out the rules and playing to win.

      • KNeale

        You have to be burned by white folks enough to be at the point where you ready to go hard in the paint for all things black at any moment:

        This is me at work:

        “Actually!! “garner” means to collect or accumulate, meaning to gather. So he actually said it correctly but I’m interested to know what it is about him that makes you so eager to correct his language when you are perfectly capable of understanding what he said!!!”

        Nobody responds and then the room is silent because they know…they know…

        • Kas

          I was actually trying to figure out what was wrong with what he said. Possibly his vocabulary is more extensive than that of his boss?

        • Asiyah

          Exactly. It sounds wrong and garner may not be appropriate in that context, but definition-wise, he’s using it right. Just because she doesn’t agree with how he’s using the word doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

          • Brother Mouzone

            I think he meant to say “gather”

  • 1. All I have to say is ask Breezy about cans of corn. LOL

    2. I can relate to because I was in a situation like that a few months back. It got to the point where people in our circle would refer to this girl as my girlfriend That was awkward, because she had an out of town boyfriend (and I had met and hung out with dude no less). From a dude’s perspective, the best way to deal with it is to acknowledge what’s going on. Ideally, it would have been addressed early on, but that ship has sailed. Just own it and ride it until the wheels fall off.

    3. Unless it’s a position that faces the public, I wouldn’t sweat it. As long as everyone has a reasonable clue what’s being said, I’d let it rock. Fighting it just makes you look petty.

  • Freebird

    Arielle’s of the world….stop messing up good times asking questions.

    • Mika

      ZACKLY!

      • Freebird

        Don’t want no real answers any way….just board the plane.

  • Val

    I think code switching is slowly becoming a thing of three past. (<— see what I did there) Partly I think this is happening because this generation, the one after Baby-boomers, doesn't really care as much what White folks think.

    Also, I think because so much of OUR colloquial language has become mainstream, (because appropriation) it really isn't as necessary to code switch. Most White folks understand slang and because of social media they even are beginning to understand certain phrases we use.

    So, in other words, Black colloquial language is on track to become the new standard English. And code switching will become a thing of the past.

    • Thinking about it, I tend to codeswitch at work less with “proper” English and more with non-idiomatic English, if that makes sense. If you’re in a room where half the people speak English as a second language, you can’t go too deep in the weeds with certain phrases, lest they lose your meaning.

    • PinkRose

      I stopped code switching after my Grandmother passed away. And it’s a good thing I did because the first time I said ya’ll during a presentation at a national science meeting was also the LAST time, LOL!!!

    • Ess Tee

      Most White folks do understand slang, but then they wanna act like they don’t. Which I find to be a power play of sorts.

      Then there are the White folks (like my colleague. I swear, my colleague is always on one) who seem to be quite content in their bubbles when it comes to evolving language. I said something about STEM yesterday, and he didn’t know what it meant. I was like, “STEM? S-T-E-M. Science, technology, engineering, math?” He’d never heard it referred that way before.

      Or so he says.

    • While white people may not speak rap slang they do get internet.

    • KNeale

      This makes me sad but its kinda true. I doubt our language will ever be standard English because (white, corporate, upper middle class-rich, still dominate most all non food-based work settings. A while back an older white man in my job replied to my email about being denied a FOIA request with “Smh”. I kid you not.

      But even though appropriation and the interwebs have stolen our language…black people have a nonverbal language that will never be co-opted because its rooted in a certain perspective/understanding of life that can only be gained by being black. (A real live black person, not a “i identify as black” person.)

      • Val

        Think about this though; “24/7” is now standard business language and that comes from us. So I don’t underestimate the chances of our language becoming universal.

        But yeah, I agree with your second paragraph.

        • Brother Mouzone

          A LOT of today’s “accepted” language comes from us and can be heard everywhere from newscasts to sports broadcasts, movies etc.. Eventually it becomes the societal norm in all things media. Examples…my bag, hater-haterade-playa hater, using yo boy’s first initial and part of his last name..Darryl McDaniel becomes DMAC, which morphed into us calling McDonald’s “micky D’s , which led to the company calling THEMSELVES that in commercials. I could go on forever and I’m sure the VSB and VSS have a million other examples.

      • Asiyah

        Don’t be sad, dear. See the bright side. There is no such thing as one type of English. English is now the universal language and we have the right to tailor it as we please. Provided we all understand each other, we’re good. And AAVE becoming more mainstream, while sad, can also lead to a positive which is people no longer thinking that one who speaks it is ignorant.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      Slang, code switching, and malapropisms are all different things.

      The need to be formal with them folks won’t change until we have equal POWER.

    • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

      Hmm…something to consider here.

  • Wild Cougar

    I don’t think good chex makes you fall in love. Falling in love makes you fall in love. Unless you fall in love with anyone you have chex with, but then you could be having chex only with people who are fall in lovable…. There is this hormonal thing that makes you bond after chex. Maybe that confuses people. It sometimes confuses me, for a couple hours. Then I got over it. I think a lot of women think if they have chex with a guy enough times, he has to be their bf or else that makes them a hoe. I think they should get over that, but its easier said than done.

    Language request. Can we stop using its in place of there is or there are? Example: Its a lot of ugly dudes in here. What say the people?

    • RaeNBow

      R-E-L-A-X … we know what people mean, lol

      • Wild Cougar

        Who said I wasn’t relaxed?

        • Lea Thrace

          My comment has nothing to do with either of yall:

          I HATE it when people say RELAX. Is there not an understanding of how insulting that can be to another person? If I am riled up, do you not think I know that? It’s an assumption that I am too stupid to recognize my own emotions and thusly need your help. GTFOHWTBS!

          Grinds my gears!

          • Relax.

            • Lea Thrace

              I will hop on a plane just to come throat chop you!

              • Anything to see me huh

                • I’m about to fall out laughing right now. LOL

                • you’re always so quick. do you have a podcast or something?

                • Lea Thrace

                  I just cant quit you!

          • Quirlygirly

            Me too! If I am excited and you tell me to Relax- it actually does the opposite affect and now I am p*ssed off.. So I am now more excited, p*ssed off and loud cause my voice modulation left when I got p*ssed off

          • Kas

            Calm down Lea don’t be so emotional. Better? ;)

            • Lea Thrace

              I just imagined me kicking you in your shins. It was a glorious picture.

          • Brother Mouzone

            My wife hates to be told relax…I learned that the hard way when we got into an argument when we first started dating..lol.

    • Kas

      “It’s” not going to happen.

      • RaeNBow

        I wanted to point out that missing apostrophe so BAD!!! but i calmed my petty… b/c again, i knew what Wild Cougar meant LMBO

        • Wild Cougar

          I did it on purpose. Relax

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