Does America have a cuisine? I mean, really? | Doubts about Americans

The USA? A cuisine? You’re kidding. This place definitely does have its own set of culinary forms and contributions. Or … The U.S. just steals its culinary forms from other traditions. Well, we’ve heard many sides of the argument before, and there’s a little bit of truth to either. Many travelers to the United States, foreigners watching American TV shows, and our very own U.S. citizens often get confused as to what the “cuisine” even is (if there is such a thing, of course). Here, I want to explore with you a bit of the influences behind American cuisine, and how that became a thing. Then we can take a brief — I do mean brief — look at the major cuisines-zzz of the United States. Ready to go?

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Influences on “American” Cuisine

The trouble with defining a uniquely American cuisine for most people is the fact that the country itself is literally a land of immigrants. There has been so much influence from other places that one might be inclined to think that the US just borrows its recipes from other countries, tweaking them slightly to appeal to American tongues. While that may be the case, this is typically what has happened in all world cuisines. For example, many European dishes rely heavily on potatoes and tomatoes, two ingredients originally from the Americas. Most of the world eats chicken, a fowl originally from South Asia. You start to get my point.

Specifically, for the United States as we know it (or them?), the cuisine was influenced by different waves of settlement. The Native Americans would be the first up. Known as the “three sisters,” indigenous diets were stapled by beans, maize, and squash. Add in the native turkey and you’ve almost got yourself a Thanksgiving dinner! Lots of other animals were consumed that aren’t such popular options nowadays like deer, elk, bison, rabbits, ducks, snakes, squirrels, turtles, possums, and alligators. Still, these animals are consumed in modern times, even if it gives me the creeps to think so. One group of native critters that have stood the test of time are crustaceans and shellfish. Mmm-hmm. 

Europeans in general immediately made their impact on the local dishes. They would eventually introduce the meats that we know and love like chicken, pork, beef, and sheep (for those that like to eat Mary’s little lambs). With these creatures also came dairy and eggs, and subsequently every great dessert ever made! Grapes and wine were also a neat contribution. Throughout settlement, American colonists had a sweet spot for France and French culinary styles which they drew much inspiration. The Jewish communities and pretty much every other European community brought with them their own styles that would influence cuisine in the new country.

Upon arriving in the colonies, many people realized a greater need to hunt than on the typical European farms. They would also come to use more fats, oils, and butter than was customary (this explains a lot, actually). Colonists also brought grains with them that could be used to bake bread or make the popular whiskeys and beers. Molasses and syrup also became common, along with a sort-of-famous drink imported from the Caribbean: rum.

In the Southern states especially, African influences would hit even harder. Imports like okra, sorghum, sesame seeds, eggplant, watermelon, rice, and yams are just some of what was brought along with the early slaves. (*Some of these foods were also found in Asia but were imported first from Africa). Black cooks would also play a major role in the national cuisine since they were serving some of the best dishes available to the elites of the time. 

All of these influences and more would go on to mix and shape a unique culinary style all to its own in the United States. As we said, the country is home to many regional cuisines within its borders. So, what are some of America’s cuisines?

Types of American Cuisine

New England

lobster roll, part of New England cuisine
lobster roll – Sharon McCutcheon

New England is a section of the Northeast United States with a long, rugged coastline. The food there is most famous for its use of seafood, especially for having some of the best lobster anywhere. Clam chowder and lobster dishes like the lobster roll are considered originals from this region. Succotash is another original consisting mostly of lima beans and corn, both native ingredients.

New England cuisine is also known for its use of fruits and berries, with many popular sweets like pies, juices, and jellies being derived from both imported (strawberries, apples) and native produce (elderberries, cranberries). Muffins, specialized types of bread, and cookies (looking at you, chocolate chip!) were also popularized here before spreading to the rest of the country.

Mid-Atlantic

Spaghetti and meatballs, and Italian-American dish
spaghetti & meatballs – jeffreyw

The Mid-Atlantic has undoubtedly had one of the biggest impacts on all American cuisine since some of the largest cities and cultural centers are here. In New York alone, Jewish and Italian influence would introduce many New World concepts like spaghetti and meatballs, American-style pizza, crab cakes, eggs benedict, the Reuben sandwich, and pastrami on rye.

Besides keeping it kosher, this region loved its sweets, with many concoctions such as the New York cheesecake, American-style donuts, and milkshakes owing their births to this region. There’s also Philadelphia which most notably contributed cream cheese and the Philly cheesesteak, but also played a major role in the westward expansion of New York dishes. We can’t forget that Upstate New York would make one of the most beloved American dishes known to man: buffalo wings

Mid-West

hot dogs with different styles of sausage and baked beans pickels and lettuce, other with onions, bbq sauce and blue cheese, with sauces and fries on the side
some variations of hot dog – Victoria Shes

Staying on the “Middle” route, the Mid-West is a region that was settled by lots of Europeans. This might explain why German, Scandinavian, and Eastern Block influences are so strong there. Aside from the many dishes brought over from those European tables, one that seemed to stand out was the sausage.

Polish and German sausages (especially Bratwurst) take the cake in this part of America, and they have gone to take many shapes and sizes. Adding pickled veggies will get you the hot dogs so popular in these parts. The major cities here have their own unique styles of pizza (most famously Chicago deep dish) and barbeque (most famously Kansas CitySt. Louis). Oh, and brownies apparently came from America’s wonderful heartland.

Southern

grits and greens, two classics of southern cuisine in America
grits & greens – Kim Daniels

When referring to “the South” in any case, especially when it comes to food, there is no umbrella that can cover it all. The South is one of the richest and most diverse culinary regions in America, many claiming it is the only part of the U.S. that gives the country a unique culinary style. Still, they learned a lot from the Natives and Africans. Corn dishes like succotash, corn of the cob, cornbread, and grits all have their origins down here. As we saw earlier, melons, yams, okra, black-eyed peas, and rice also get the highlight from Africa.

Barbeque is a key style of food with famous contributors in Tennessee and the Carolinas.. Buttermilk biscuits, country ham, and fried chicken are dishes that developed in the South, along with popular deserts like sweet potato pie, pecan pie, and peach cobbler. Oh, and sweet tea which is practically a dessert. Many fried classics like fried chicken, country fried steak, and fried pork chops would get their call to fame in the south. And don’t forget to throw some gravy on it!

Cajun & Creole

Gumbo, a classic Louisiana dish, cajun/creole cuisine
gumbo – Amadscientist

Throughout the coastal South such as the Carolinas, seafood is considered a staple in the cuisine. But nowhere else, I dare to say, does seafood play a bigger role in the culinary ID than in Louisiana. Cajun and Creole traditions took heavily from French-Acadian, Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, and indigenous foods to make it its own unique thing.

There are way too many specialized dishes to name here, but many of them take advantage of the prevalent shellfish, crawfish, and regular fish of the region. The food is known for being one of the most flavorful and spiciest in all of the U.S. Cajuns love their cayenne pepper. Some of the most-known dishes include gumbo, jambalaya, boudin sausage, red beans and rice, and po’boys

Florida & the Caribbean

jerk chicken grilling with a Heineken beer, part of Caribbean cuisine
jerk grilled chicken – S kelly

Anyone who’s ever been to Florida knows how nice (or chaotic) the weather can be. It’s known as the only part of the contiguous United States with a tropical climate. This plus its proximity to the Caribbean has brought many fruits that simply can’t grow in other states. Immigrants have brought culinary styles from Cuba, the DR, and Haiti, among other flavors such as allspice, coconut, oranges, banana (plantains), Jerk, and curry.

Some of the tropical fruits available like soursop and mangoes are almost unheard of in other parts of the South, making Florida a standout. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico also add their own twist of flavors, being U.S. territories with tons of Spanish, African, and French influences too. The region is also a key location for seafood and for peppers like bell and habanero. It’s said the famous key lime pie was invented (or at least inspired) in the Florida Keys.

Northwest

sesame chicken, an Americanized dish of Chinese food, popularized in the American West
sesame chicken (I couldn’t find moose sausage) – Israel Albornoz

The American Northwest has two standout factors in its culinary styles. For one, the proximity to the Pacific gives it some unique fish and seafood not available in the East. The other is due to the fact that most of this region is wilderness, allowing for access to more big game. This is especially true for Alaska where animals like the ptarmigan, moose, and bison can be consumed more regularly than in other parts of the U.S.

I was also thinking bears and beavers, but I don’t know how often those get eaten. The Pacific Northwest is also famous for its extensive berry and hazelnut harvesting. And not to mention the major cities like Seattle and San Francisco that created many of the Asian-American dishes beloved around the country.

Southwest

Tex-Mex dishes including rice, tortilla chips, fajitas and tacos, part of American cuisine
Tex-Mex dishes – Scott Bauer

The Southwest is a huge area with tons of culinary styles and influences. The most prevalent of these is probably American Mexican food. From Tex-Mex to SoCal to New Mexico, each place has its own unique turn. Notably from Texans, we get iconic dishes like beef chili, queso dip, American nachos, taco bowls, and holiest of all, Fritos. Chimichangas are reportedly from Arizona, and New Mexico has lots of traditional dishes that put an American twist to north Mexican fare.

A constant in many of these is the use of tomatoes, peppers like chiles and jalapeños, cheese, corn, and beans. Salsa, tortillas, and guacamole are also part of the staple dishes. With influences like the Native American horno, a type of oven, other animals such as elk and even rattlesnake are consumed, likely in the boonies.

Still, beef and barbeque hold a special place here, with Texas having some of the most famous BBQ in the world. Burgers are also an important feature, the Southwest being home to the cheeseburger and many types of Mexicanized and Asianized burgers following soon after. California was pivotal in introducing many Asian foods to the country (as well as the concept of fast food). From Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, to Korean and more, these foods have gone to shapeshift into something truly American.

Pacific

Spam musubi, a Hawaiian / pacific dish in American cuisine
SPAM musubi – bandita

The Pacific Islands take up a special portion of American cuisine. Due to tropical weather and an abundance of seafood, this region has access to many foods otherwise not available in the rest of the country. Regional natives and tropical fruits like bananas, papayas, lemongrass, and sweet potatoes have all contributed. Alongside Samoan and Mariana traditions, Hawaiian food is of the most beloved in America as well.

Also paying due to imports like chicken and pigs, pork and ham are heavily associated with this region, as are pineapples. Asian foods and styles like poke (Hawaii original), tofu, soy, sushi, teriyaki, kimchi, and noodles like ramen are all part of the cuisine. Many American troops were sent to the Pacific during wartime as well, and canned foods like beans, meat, and SPAM are derived from those army rations. 

Other Food

lamb kebab with pita bread, a popular mediterranean dish in America
lamb kebab – Lesya Dolyk

One of the most popular cuisines not owing to a particular region of the U.S. is Mediterranean food. This is usually with a Middle Eastern flare and includes things like kebabs, hummus, shwarma, falafel, pita bread, and creamy salads. Desserts like rice pudding and baklava also have an impact on this food. Ethiopian and other African styles are on the rise due to increased immigration.

Indian food has been popular for a while with tikka masala, naan bread, lentils, and curry being some of the most popular items. South American barbeque styles like Brazilian churrasco and gaucho asado are gaining in popularity, as are exotic fruits like “acai” (açaí) or tubers like cassava (think tapioca). Pretty much everyone’s got a hand in this American pie. 


**That’s it for now! I look forward to going more in depth with the distinct American cuisines in the future. What do you think? Were any of these shocking to you? Still don’t think the U.S. has its own cuisine? Let us know! And take care, as always. Peace 😉

Do Americans have a culture? – Doubts about the U.S.A.

A Culture? Please …

I know, I know. This might seem like an odd question, but many out there wonder whether or not the U.S. really does have a culture. It’s debated by researchers and academics, even questioned by many Americans themselves. Well, you know I’m going to give you my opinion. But, what is culture in the first place?

Read more: Doubts About Americans

All countries have one (there goes your answer right there), and most countries have specific regional cultures within them. Even many cities have different “cultures” depending on the side of town. This usually happens in a north-south and east-west frame. Think of, say, Eastern and Western China, East and West Russia, North and South Italy, or North and South India. The same differences happen in the U.S., where you get different cultures from north to south and east to west and diagonal and so forth.

Probably the reason many would question whether America or Americans have any culture has more to do with having a culture of their own. Since everybody knows it’s a nation composed almost entirely of immigrants, it’s easy to see why people might question whether the U.S. even has a culture in the first place. Especially for visitors, often the first things they see are Uber and Lyft drivers that can hardly speak English, a Chinese restaurant on the left, a Mexican restaurant on the right, an Indian bazaar, a building that looks just like any other in Europe or somewhere else.

Read more: American ethnicity, American languages

Culture(s) of the U.S.

A lot of that is just on the surface, though. First and foremost, we just need to look at the first nations within our nation. Native Americans were here before “America” was even a thing. They have used hundreds of languages to express their many musical styles, customs, dressing traditions, and cuisines. Many of the food items common in current American cuisines like corn, turkey, different berries, and tomatoes are homegrown, original to the continent. And indigenous art and design are still highly influential, especially in regions like the Southwest and parts of the Midwest.

The Anglos and other British settlers also had a chunk of influence. They brought their heritage, sure, but established a distinct set of folklore, musical styles, attire, and identity altogether. Generally those identities differed from North to South and urban to rural too, where differences in lifestyle, accent, and ideology would diverge those two parts of the country even more. Besides setting the foundation for the United States as we know it, they also gave the nation its main language, now the most prominent and influential version of English on the planet. (Brits, please don’t get mad at me!)

With all that going on, others from Europe like the French, Dutch, Swedes, and Spanish were all pushing their own traditions and styles onto the locations they’d settled. This left Dutch architecture in New York, Spanish architecture in California and Texas, and French architecture in Louisiana. It also gave way to celebrations like Mardi Gras, and the establishment of some of America’s greatest and most iconic cities.

The Africans that were brought over to the New World also made their cultural impact. From their influence on cuisine, especially in the South and Mid-Atlantic, they helped to produce and invent many of the nation’s most iconic and preferred dishes, several with ingredients from the ancestral continent. Lyrical storytelling and passing down vocal history allowed many to preserve their musical traditions. This continues to impact American and World music in a huge way till this day. With some of the most important black social leaders and intellects, African Americans have become some of the most recognizable and admired black individuals known all over the world. Many black people from other countries and colonies also had a huge impact on the nation’s ID. And America’s obsession with athletics, TV, and movies have helped to solidify that role.

Oh, and let’s not forget the many immigrants that came to establish their own unique cultures in the U.S. different from their home lands. I mean, Chicano isn’t quite Mexican, and Nuyorican isn’t quite Puerto Rican (even though Puerto Rican is still American, as much as Guamanian, American Samoan, Mariana, or Virgin Islander is). Just name all the religious sects and denominations that sought refuge here. Heck, many still were persecuted when they got here. Many of their traditional cuisines and customs have been modified to U.S.-style, but there are still places where their customs have been preserved like in their ancestral countries.

Just the Beginning

And that’s just looking at individual groups. I haven’t even begun to talk about consumerism and capitalism, the phenomenon of malls and suburbs, movie culture and car culture, skateboarding and surfing, baseball and basketball, football and the bashing of any other sport that claims to be football, Americana and jukebox nostalgia, hostility and hospitality, Broadway and Hollywood, Main Street and Middle America, country living and the urban rush, the woes of yards and pounds, love-hate feels about war and the admiration of military, the superiority complex and the self-loathing, “pulling up your bootstraps” and the mental health crisis, ranches and rodeos, guns and cowboys, hippies and hipsters, donators and volunteers, scammers and schemers, big enterprise and social media craze, an app for everything and a distrust in politics, religious fundamentalists and homegrown extremists, luaus and hula dancers, freezer food and barbecues, bison and bald eagles, conservative rules, and the sex, swearing, and drugs that never seem to get ruled out.

Read more: American religion, Black Americans

There’s a lot that makes America what it is, but one thing’s for certain; Americans do have a culture … but I’ll let others figure out what that culture actually is.


Thank you for reading! Follow the site or subscribe to receive updates as they happen. You can contact me at tietewaller@gmail.com or Give Me a Shout to collaborate and one-to-one messages. Stay tuned for further posts on this topic!

‘Django Unchained’ & American Society- What’s it say about us?

movie poster cover for Django Unchained
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Django Unchained was a 2012 American movie by Quentin Tarantino that shook up so many of its viewers. With references to Spaghetti Westerns, Southern epics, and slavery pieces to name a few, this movie also had a lot to say about American society overall. Down below are a few of the points about our society, past and present, that were referenced in Django Unchained.

That’s Racist

The most obvious thing that Django Unchained tells us about America is slavery and racism. We all know about the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the nation’s history of African enslavement. In the movie, we see how pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific concepts were used in those days to justify slavery.

You remember the whole scene where Mr. Candie (DiCaprio’s character) uses one of his former slave’s skulls to demonstrate how black people are anatomically inferior to whites. Or that scene where the slaver uses the Bible to justify his whipping and punishing of the “sub-human” slaves.

The cold part is that this stuff really happened, and a lot. It seems like every five words in Django is the “n-word,” and this is more for a shock effect than anything. I mean, I’m sure white people in those days called black people nigger a lot, but not like every five seconds. Still, the use of this word and other racial slurs in the movie shows us how language has been used throughout our country’s history to uplift certain groups and diminish others. And that goes both ways.

Read more: Are there many interracial couples in America?

Okay, so we saw whips and chains, physical representations of bondage and dominance — not to get freaky. Oh, and we saw a glimpse of a pre-Ku Klux Klan group in one of the funniest scenes of the entire movie. The KKK really formed after abolition as a kind of retaliation against blacks gaining equality. Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. Schultz (Cristoph Waltz) later in the movie start to be treated with a bit of respect when they are presumed to have money and status. This shows how even racism can be curbed when there are benefits involved.

Frontier Living

Django Unchained at its heart is a Western, so the usual gun-slinging and street shootouts had to be a part of it. The characters throughout most of the movie are riding horses and carriages across open landscapes, mountains, and everything we associate with the Old West. We even see the classic cowboy stand-offs in the small frontier town, people running to get the sheriff, and a saloon fight.

The Antebellum South is also represented when they get to Mississippi. There we see big plantations and plantation homes being worked by slaves. Besides that, we get a look at some slave quarters, those common oak and poplar trees of the South, and big fields of cotton to be picked. And of course, all around is the sense of white dominance and complacency for being in control of that crazy world they’d created.

Read more: Isn’t America all cold and snowy?

The Outlaw is B(l)ack!

Another thing this movie does is show audiences how black outlaws and bounty hunters did exist in the Old Western days. I feel like this movie opened up in many ways for people to learn about such figures as black cowboys and bounty hunters, a subject that was not really touched on before in movies or TV (at least to this extent).

Django shows in part the presence of these lesser-known historic black figures of that time, informing that they were also a part of the development of the country. There’s also something many people forget, that some slaves were able to buy their freedom and lead interesting lives outside of the establishment.

Read more: Aren’t there a lot of black people in America, like on TV?

Reparations … or Revenge?

Since the times of slavery in America, there has been a sense of black people recovering some kind of dignity, strength, even ranging into dominance. It’s important to remember that not all people in any group will want the same things, which is normal. Still, when Django goes and kills all of the slavers that did him wrong, there’s this sense of “justice served cold” that reverberates off of every gunshot and explosion.

There’s a constant debate in the USA of whether there should be reparations or compensation given to black Americans for the terrible deeds taken against their ancestors. There is this underlying feeling of getting revenge on these racist actions, which is completely exploited in this movie. Let me also remind you that the German’s full name is Dr. “King” Schultz, likely a nod to Dr. Martin Luther King as a kind of liberator and symbol for good.

Through all the killing that Django does, we also get an idea of the violent nature of rebellions in general, especially as it deals with the black-led ones. There was many a violent uprising in America’s past, and this movie plays a bit on such true historic bloodbaths.

And the White Director

So Quentin Tarantino doesn’t look very black, as far as most of us can tell. The fact that a white guy had directed a movie like this did conjure up some backlash for the film. Django Unchained touches on some pretty sensitive subject matter, particularly concerning black Americans. So one might imagine how some people felt uncomfortable with it.

Tarantino movies aren’t for everyone and lots of people are already uneased by the cartoonish violence in them. Put that together with about a thousand “n-bombs” and you’ve got a sure recipe for retaliation. Even though many people thought he had no business making a movie about slavery, there were still those that enjoyed Django Unchained regardless of its crazy subject matter. Q. T. does actually have a cameo in the movie and gets blown up, which shows that even the director wasn’t safe from Django’s vengeful rage.

Boy, I Swear

Another common feature in Tarantino’s movies is the liberal and consistent tendency of his characters to swear. This is just his style, and it comes more so from this culture surrounding Hollywood or Southern California — where almost everyone I know curses. Some are offended by this constant use of bad words, and others could care less.

One thing that’s funny about this, though, is that people back in those times (early-mid 1800s) definitely did not curse as much as in the movie. Sure, there was cursing, but people back in those days were generally pretty conservative and religious by today’s standards. I had this same thought watching The Hateful Eight which had a similar amount of cussing in a time period that people probably didn’t have such dirty mouths.

Read more: The Wolf of Wall Street

This feature of the movie was likely used to connect modern audiences to this past period in time, similar to how the score contained some rap songs. It also reminds audiences that this story is fictional and for entertainment purposes, so don’t be taking it all so seriously.

America, the Beautiful Mixed Baby

In Django Unchained are black people (obviously), Germans, Australians, other Americans, and Mr. Candie who loves French — even though he can’t speak or understand it. Some aspects of the culture, especially on the German side, are explored a bit deeper. With all of this, we get reminded of America’s very mixed heritage.

Germans at a certain point in the U.S. interior were very prevalent and made up a large part of the immigration there. All these different people of varying backgrounds remind us of this uncommon origin we share that turned the U.S. into a land of immigrants. It also reminds us that a large part of the country, like the West, was built by outlaws, runaways, and people seeking the thrill of adventure until turning it into what it is today.

Read more: Aren’t Americans white?

**What did you think of this movie? Are you fond of Tarantino or do you avoid his movies at all costs? If you can, share what else Django Unchained showed us about American or world society. Also, feel free to check out similar posts on At the Movies. Message me at tietewaller@gmail.com for direct contact or to collaborate on something! Thank you for reading and peace to you.

“This is America” by Childish Gambino [feat. some others] – Lyrics for English students

Flag of the United States
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A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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Flag of England
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This Is America (single cover) 2018.jpg
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From Donald Glover’s initial “ya, ya, ya’s” to Young Thug’s closing mumbles, “This is America” has become such an iconic song. Pretty much every country has done their own spinoff at this point. But for those of you learning English out there, did you understand the lyrics? This post isn’t an attempt to explain hidden meanings in the video or deep explanations in the lyrics. I’m just trying to explain some of the common expressions and slang he uses in the song, things that might be harder for non-native English speakers to understand. Watch the video if you like and accompany the song. Ready? So here we go!

Read more: for other Lyrics “Explained”, for just lyrics without my explanations

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Song Lyrics & Explanations

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

  • Society: This sounds like what certain prejudiced Americans say to immigrants or groups they don’t like (black, Muslim, poor, etc.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

We just wanna party

  • Informal Speech: *We just want to party

Party just for you

We just want the money

Money just for you (Yeah)

I know you wanna party

Party just for free

Girl, you got me dancin’ (Girl, you got me dancin’)

  • Grammar: *You’ve got me dancing… Also, You have me dancing…

Dance and shake the frame (Yeah)

  • Slang: “Frame” here refers to the woman’s body.

We just wanna party (Yeah)

Party just for you (Yeah)

We just want the money (Yeah)

Money just for you (You)

I know you wanna party (Yeah)

Party just for free (Yeah)

Girl, you got me dancin’ (Girl, you got me dancin’, yeah)

Dance and shake the frame (Ooh)

This is America

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

  • Slang: To “catch” someone doing something is to find or witness that person. It’s usually when you find someone doing an act that is not right. “Don’t let me catch you stealing.” “Slipping” here means to make a mistake or do something wrong.
  • Pronunciation: The lyrics I found say “now” but it sounds kind of like “no.” Gambino could be doing this intentionally. Either way, it has about the same meaning. “Don’t let them find you doing something you shouldn’t be doing, being weak, doing something illegal.”

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

Look what I’m whippin’ now

  • Slang: “Whipping” in slang usually means to make or come up with something. It’s mostly used like “whipping up” something. Whipping can also have to do with cars, as in “Look what I’m driving now.” Whipping traditionally has to do with using a whip to punish someone like a prisoner or slave, or turning milk into a “whipped” cream, for example.
  • Pronunciation: “Now” here kind of sounds like “on,” so it almost sounds like “Look what I’m whipping (beating, hitting) on.”
  • Culture: The “whip” is also a popular dance, by the way.

This is America (Woo)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

Look what I’m whippin’ now

This is America (Skrrt, skrrt, woo)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Ayy)

Look how I’m livin’ now

Police be trippin’ now (Woo)

  • Grammar: *Police are tripping now…
  • Slang: “Tripping” here means to act in a way that is wrong or dumb to others, constantly making mistakes and bad choices. “My dad is always punishing me for stuff I didn’t do. He’s tripping.”

Read more: Tripping, also Adventures of Charles

Yeah, this is America (Woo, ayy)

Guns in my area (Word, my area)

  • Figurative speech: His “area” can be his neighborhood, as in, he lives in an area with lots of guns. It can also be literally in his personal area, like in his possession. It most likely refers to America as a whole, though.
  • Slang: “Word” when used like this is just a way to acknowledge what someone says. It’s like saying “really, true, yep, etc.”

I got the strap (Ayy, ayy)

  • Grammar: *I have the strap…
  • Slang: A “strap” in this sense refers to a gun, gun strap.

Read more: Strap

I gotta carry ’em

  • Informal Speech: *I have to carry them.
  • Less Obvious Meaning: He has to carry guns, as if for protection or because that’s the stereotype.

Yeah, yeah, I’ma go into this (Ugh)

  • Informal Speech: *I’m going to go into this…
  • Expression: “Go in” in this sense means to really do well, have a lot of success, really analyze, look hard at, and make an overall really cool song.

Yeah, yeah, this is guerilla (Woo)

  • Double Meaning: Like guerilla warfare where trained common civilians get involved in warlike fighting. “Guerilla” rhymes perfectly with “gorilla” which is kind of a derogatory term against black people. This is probably on purpose as if to say, “This is about black people.”

Read more: Guerilla

Yeah, yeah, I’ma go get the bag

  • Slang: The “bag” here means money. It could also mean drugs since they’re mostly sold in a little bag.

Read more: Bag, also slang terms for money

Yeah, yeah, or I’ma get the pad

a villa style mansion in the evening by the pool, meaning of slang "pad" from Childish Gambino song
a nice “pad” – by Vita Vilcina
  • Slang: The “pad” most likely refers to a house, like a nice home.
  • Double Meaning: In another way, he could be using a double meaning to refer to a writing pad (notepad) where he writes his smart ideas.

Read more: Pad

Yeah, yeah, I’m so cold like, yeah (Yeah)

  • Slang: “Cold” in slang can mean a few things. It can mean that someone is “coldhearted” and doesn’t care about anything, or a mean person. It can also mean that someone is really cool and good at something.

I’m so dope like, yeah (Woo)

  • “Dope” can also mean really cool, something that’s liked by others.

Read more: Dope, also Adventures of Charles

We gon’ blow like, yeah (Straight up, uh)

  • Informal Speech: *We’re going to blow…
  • Slang: “Blow” or “blow up” in slang means to come out and have a ton of success, become really popular. “Straight up” is slang that is usually used to agree with someone. It means something like “true, for real, etc.”

Read more: Straight up

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody

You go tell somebody

Grandma told me

Get your money, Black man (Get your— Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Get your—Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Get your—Black man)

This is America (Woo, ayy)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Woo, woo, don’t catch you slippin’ now)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Ayy, woah)

Look what I’m whippin’ now (Slime!)

This is America (Yeah, yeah)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Woah, ayy)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Ayy, woo)

Look what I’m whippin’ now (Ayy)

Look how I’m geekin’ out (Hey)

  • Slang: “Geeking out” is to be dressed in a really stylish but kind of formal way. A similar expression is “geeked up” with about the same meaning. This phrase became popular when a style of dance called jerking got famous. This term also means to get high on drugs, but that’s different from what Gambino’s talking about. “Geek” traditionally is a mean term used to make fun of kids that are seen as nerds or who have awkward style. The meaning was turned to be stylish in a weird way. “Geeking out” can also be to show off one’s intelligence or get excited by “nerdy” or “geeky” subjects.

Read more: Geek, Geek out, Geeked up

I’m so fitted (I’m so fitted, woo)

a female model with nice clothing and heels, representing the meaning of slang word "fitted" from This Is America song
she’s “fitted” – by Matheus Ferrero
  • Slang: “Fitted” means well-dressed or stylish.

Read more: Fitted

I’m on Gucci (I’m on Gucci)

  • Figurative Speech/Dual Meaning: “On Gucci” could mean that he is wearing Gucci and is in a phase where he likes this brand. This could be that he is “on” this brand like a drug since we usually say “on” when someone is using or is addicted to a drug. That would relate to being geeked out/up from before. “He’s on LSD.” It could also mean he likes or is acting like Gucci Mane, a famous rapper. Being “on” someone can also mean to make fun of them, so this line has a few probable meanings.

I’m so pretty (Yeah, yeah, woo)

I’m gon’ get it (Ayy, I’m gon’ get it)

  • Informal Speech: I’m going to get get it… “Get it” could refer to making money. “Get it!” is often what people yell to encourage someone to do something well, like dancing. The way he says it though, “Gon’ get it” is used commonly to mean that the person is in trouble or is going to have serious problems. “Ooh, you broke mom’s lamp. You’re gonna get it! (you’re in big trouble)”

Watch me move (Blaow)

This a celly (Ha)

  • Grammar: *This is a celly…
  • Slang: “Celly” here refers to a cellphone.
  • Society: This relates to some police officers that shot innocent black people confusing their cellphones with a gun.

That’s a tool (Yeah)

  • Slang: A “tool” here refers to a gun, saying the cellphone looked like a gun to the police.
  • Society: They could also be using this excuse as a “tool” to get out of trouble.

On my Kodak (Woo) Black

  • Culture/Figurative Speech: Now he’s on Kodak, which is probably that he’s taking photos or recording what’s happening. Kodak is a company that has produced lots of photography products. Kodak Black is a rapper, so he could also be saying that he is acting like Kodak Black. He could also just be saying Kodak to refer to the word black, as in, he is “being black,” acting in a stereotypically black way.

Ooh, know that (Yeah, know that, hold on)

  • Grammar: *You know that…
  • Slang: “Hold on” means to wait, or also to be strong and not give up, not stop.

Get it (Woo, get it, get it)

Ooh, work it (21)

  • Slang: “Work it” means to do something really well, especially related to dancing.
  • Rapper: “21” refers to 21 Savage, a rapper in this song.

Read more: Work it

Hunnid bands, hunnid bands, hunnid bands (Hunnid bands)

  • Slang: *One hundred bands… “Hunnid” or “a hunnid” is a common slang pronunciation of the word “hundred.” “Bands” means a thousand dollars. A hundred bands is a lot of money.

Read more: Hunnid, Bands, also slang terms for money

Contraband, contraband, contraband (Contraband)

I got the plug in Oaxaca (Woah)

  • Slang: A “plug” is someone who provides illegal contraband for another party, usually drugs. It also can be just a person who has anything another person needs.
  • Society/Geography: He’s saying he has a drug supplier in Oaxaca, a state in Mexico. This state isn’t famous for drug activity, but he says it likely because it’s in Mexico, a country infamous for drug cartels. He’s not being serious though.

Read more: Plug, Oaxaca

They gonna find you like “blocka” (Blaow)

  • Informal Speech: *They’re going to find you…
  • Culture/Sounds: “Blocka” is the sound a gun makes. They’re going to find you and shoot you, basically. This sound has been popularized by rappers of Caribbean origin and is now used by all kinds of rappers, especially in trap music.

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody

America, I just checked my following list, and

  • Media: His following list on social media.

You go tell somebody

You m********** owe me

Grandma told me

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Black man (1, 2, 3—get down)

  • Culture/Music: This is a popular line in funk and soul music from the mid-1900s, made most popular by artist James Brown. He usually said this before he started dancing, which is exactly what happens in the music video.
  • Expression: To “get down” in music means to start dancing and having fun. Similarly, “Get down!” is what people yell when someone starts shooting a gun.

Read more: Get down

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody

You go tell somebody

Grandma told me, “Get your money”

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Black man

You just a black man in this world

  • Grammar: *You’re just a black man…

You just a barcode, ayy

  • Deeper Meaning: A “barcode” is that black and white code that people scan to buy something or check the price. He could be saying black people are seen as something to buy or that have a price. Just objects.

You just a black man in this world

Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy

a foreign car representing the meaning of English slang "foreigns"
all I drive is “foreigns” – by Mike Von
  • Slang: “Foreigns” are foreign cars. Rappers usually love to sing about foreign cars.

You just a big dawg, yeah

  • Slang: “Dawg” is a word that refers to another person, usually a man. It’s the same as dude, bro, etc.

Read more: Dawg

I kenneled him in the backyard

  • A “kennel” is a shelter where dogs are kept. This plays on the word “dawg” from before, meaning he puts this man in his place or probably buries him in the backyard.

No, probably ain’t life to a dog

For a big dog

  • Understanding: These last two lines I can’t really understand what he’s saying, but this is more or less it.

What Else?

“This is America” is such a cool song because its lyrics are full of double meanings, cultural references, and sarcastic criticisms. Again, I don’t really want to get into the deeper meaning of the lyrics, but it’s apparent that he is criticizing lots of modern hip hop. The video expresses this even more and his criticism shifts against America as a whole, even though he focuses more on the black experience.

Violence, racism, discrimination, and constant stereotypical pressures are just part of what can make life in America very tough for anybody, and especially the disadvantaged groups of people. Of course, black Americans are one of the greatest examples of this, and we see proof of it time and time again. The song is fun to listen to and dance to. The video is enticing with just as much meaningful content as the lyrics, and this song was a hit since the second it reached our screens.

Featured image: Wayne Lee-Sing

Os americanos não são racistas? Segregados? E xenófobos? – Preconceito nos EUA

Bem, quais? No nível interno ou no nível político? Depende de quem você está perguntando, mas aqui estão algumas coisas para manter em mente:

Vidas negras importam. Este movimento social recentemente acendeu toda uma onda de emoções de apoiadores e oponentes de seus ideais.

  • “Todas as vidas importam, não é o correto?”

–um pode perguntar. E numa ideologia filosófica baseada em princípios, sim, todas elas importam. Mas olhando para vários parâmetros que comparam americanos negros a outras “raças/etnias”, é fácil detectar uma disparidade, especialmente entre brancos e negros.

Aqui estão apenas alguns gráficos que achei particularmente alarmantes:

Tiroteios policiais fatais por milhão, por etnia

Fatal police shootings per million by race
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Consumo de maconha vs. detenções por porte, por etnia

marijuana usage vs possession arrests by race
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Riqueza doméstica de norte-americanos negros e brancos

household wealth of black and white americans
Madison Hoff/Business Insider

Nesses três gráficos, você pode começar a ter uma ideia de como a sociedade trata de forma desproporcional um grupo de pessoas sobre o outro. Bem, existem algumas coisas importantes para ser observadas aqui:

  1. Cerca de metade das mortes causadas pela violência policial são sofridas por brancos. No entanto, mais negros são mortos em proporção a qualquer outro grupo racial, o que é alarmante, pois constituem uma parte muito menor da população
  2. Embora o uso de maconha esteja se tornando mais legalizado em todo o país nas últimas décadas, e aproximadamente a mesma quantidade de brancos e negros admitam usá-la, uma porcentagem muito maior de negros são presos por porte de maconha
  3. As famílias brancas em geral têm maior probabilidade de ter alta renda, enquanto as famílias negras em geral têm maior probabilidade de serem pobres

Isso é apenas o que os números nos mostram; faça com eles o que quiser.

Há muitos brancos mortos pela polícia ou presos, e muitos negros são ricos. Mas, no fundo, o sistema dos EUA atrasa o progresso de certos grupos.

E não é apenas um fenômeno atual. Muitas oportunidades existem para todos os povos hoje, que é ótimo, embora, historicamente, essas minorias não tiveram uma chance. A escravidão institucional era uma parte disso. As teorias de que algumas raças serem melhores do que outras era outra parte ainda relacionada. Por qual outro motivo um grupo de pessoas viria para um continente pensando que estava “destinado” a ensinar e conquistar os outros?

Também quero deixar claro que este problema não é exclusivamente europeu. Escravidão, colonização e segregação existiram em todos os continentes povoados durante a maior parte da história humana. Os humanos são legais assim.

A América tem uma história suja com xenofobia, que é temer ou desprezar pessoas de nações, culturas, e religiões estrangeiras. Nos primeiros dias, estávamos preocupados com os alemães e escandinavos tomando nossos empregos e terras. Mais tarde, foram os irlandeses, depois europeus orientais, italianos e asiáticos. Mais recentemente, foram latino-americanos e muçulmanos, mas essa história é antiga. Todos esses grupos sofreram violência e retaliação ao migrar para a América, com a única diferença de que aqueles grupos vistos com uma cor de pele “menor”, ​​religião “menor” ou de países “mais carentes” sofreram bem mais. Essa discriminação persiste de maneira especialmente forte em comunidades que estão segregadas há gerações.

Os EUA são um país incrivelmente complexo. A percepção de ser uma nação de imigrantes influenciou muitos a chegar e continuar com seus antigos costumes, afastando eles da cultura americana em geral. O medo de imigrantes e a hostilidade frequente em relação a eles deixou muitos se sentindo mal recebidos a ponto de irem voluntariamente para outros países ou voltando para sua casa. Quem quer alguem gritando,

Volte para onde você veio!

ou recebendo olhares de desprezo o tempo todo apenas por causa de sua aparência ou crenças religiosas? Tenho certeza de que me sentiria péssimo comigo mesmo se eu fosse receber preconceito por coisas que nem posso controlar. O governo definitivamente cria políticas que estimulam esse medo dos estrangeiros. Lembre:

  • Nipo-americanos colocados em campos de internamento
  • Imigrantes irlandeses anunciados como invasores subumanos
  • Mexicanos e centro-americanos sendo deportados em massa
  • proibição de viagens imposta a países de maioria muçulmana

Esse último foi bem recente, hein?

Para colocar um pouco de sol nessa história, os americanos, em geral, parecem ser pessoas realmente bem-intencionadas. Não gostamos de ver os outros sofrendo e queremos ser uma sociedade pacífica e feliz que trabalhe em conjunto aos outros. Muitos estão realmente curiosas ​​sobre outras culturas, línguas e religiões. Temos uma má reputação, mas muitos de nós estamos tentando quebrar esses estereótipos de mente fechada e de preconceituosos que tacamos em nós mesmos.

De qualquer forma, dê uma olhada nas páginas abaixo para ver mais gráficos sobre a percepção das questões raciais nos EUA e me diga o que você acha! Há de tudo, desde comparações de renda a opiniões sobre como a raça de uma pessoa afeta a mobilidade de classe social. Tem até um grafiquinho interessante que mostra como os americanos veem a tal palavra com “N”. Há um total de 7% de brancos que pensam que está tudo bem “Às vezes” ou “Sempre” para gente branca dizer a palavra “N”, o que é simplesmente doido. É uma porcentagem muito pequena, mas estou tentando imaginar quem são essas pessoas. Eles são realmente racistas ou são apenas uns caras brancos loucos que andam muito com negros e se safam? Provavelmente ambos, mas essa palavra merece um artigo inteiro para si mesma.

Portanto, a resposta à pergunta original é: Sim, somos um pouco racistas, segregacionistas e xenófobos, mas é um mau hábito de longa data. Fomos treinados dessa forma. Fomos ensinados dessa forma. Nossa nação começou assim. Mas não se esqueça, não é apenas um problema americano. E, estamos tentando! Muitos estão lutando para consertar isso. Pensar naqueles cidadãos que tem uma mente positiva me ajuda a dormir melhor à noite.

Se você consegue ler em inglês e quer aprender mais, aqui estão recursos:

Gráficos que mostram como as diferenças raciais aparecem na sociedade: https://www.businessinsider.com/us-systemic-racism-in-charts-graphs-data-2020-6

Para a história da xenofobia nos EUA: https://now.tufts.edu/articles/long-history-xenophobia-america

Para a percepção dos americanos sobre questões raciais: https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/04/09/race-in-america-2019/

One day bet ride – “bet” “ride or die” “rider” “day one” meanings & uses

There are more than a few ways to agree with something in English. What about talking about a lifelong friend? We cover these topics and more in today’s post, looking at terms bet, ride or die, rider, and day one, as well as their meanings and how they’re used. Read more if you want to learn more about these words and how to use them properly. We’ll see examples in a short story about Charles, and as always, practice with some questions at the end. Here we go!

Young woman doing a thumbs-up to represent the word Bet, English slang word
Bet! – Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Bet

You may be familiar with a “bet” as a type of wager or strong guess that something will happen, usually involving a loss or gain of money depending on the result. Bet has meant different things over the years, yet in slang, it often has the same meaning as “cool”, “for sure”, or “really?” This is because of the phrase, “You bet ya” or the shorter version, “You bet.” This is a way to say “of course” or to guarantee something. Shortening it to just “bet” usually is a response to something to show gratitude or respect, but can also be used to question something.

.

Sweeping up the stage as always, Charles liked to approach his work with a smile. He knew one day he’d save up enough money to move out of his tiny apartment and into a decent condo, maybe even a home. Who knows? His friends Sheila and Jonah could split the rent with him, easy. By then, he could be designing the sets for plays instead of cleaning up dirty props. Until that day, he was content to help where he could.

BUNG BUNG BUNG. Footsteps pounded on the wooden floor before the doors to the theater flung open. It was an actor looking for … something.

Charles — You need help? You look lost.

Actor — Who? Oh, no, I’m just looking for my phone. I always forget it under a seat or behind a box or something. I bet money it’s in the same place I always leave it.

  • I’m sure, I know, I’m almost certain.

Charles — What? Do you mean this phone?

The actor smiled and ran up to Charles.

Actor — Yeah, man! Thanks so much. It was under the seat agian, wasn’t it?

Charles — Well, in the costumes bin, actually.

Actor — Bet. Thanks a lot man. I appreciate it. I was getting frantic.

  • For sure, cool, I get it, of course.

Charles — Really? I didn’t notice. Haha. I know how it is with the cellphones.

Actor — I have an extra special reason to keep my phone on me, though.

Charles — Bet? What is that?

  • Really? For real?

.

Two hands making a promise to represent the term Ride or Die, informal English words
A ride-or-die is always there – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Ride or Die * Rider

The concept of a ride-or-die means a person, usually a close friend or partner, who will do anything to help you and is extremely trustworthy. It can sometimes be used to call someone your best friend or boy/girlfriend. This comes from the idea of “ride,” or to ride with someone. This means the person sticks with you when you need them and you can count on them. A rider then is someone who is a ride-or-die. A rider can also be a person who is willing to do whatever you want and has few boundaries. They go with the flow and are true companions.

.

Actor — “What is it?” What else could it be? I gotta call my girl, man, my ride-or die.

  • My girlfriend, the person I trust, my close partner.

Charles — Oh, I didn’t know you had a girl. She a actress too?

Actor — Yeah, but she prefers the term actor. We met at the theater down the street watching somebody else’s play. Can you imagine? Somebody else’s play. Ha!

Charles continued to sweep the stage floor, focused deeply on his work.

Actor — What’re you doing after this?

Charles — I think I’ll dust the curtains. They’re pretty dirty.

Actor — Man, don’t you have a rider in your life? You need a woman.

  • Don’t you have a girlfriend, a close friend, a trustful partner?

Charles — I’m working on that, too. I have a potential girl. Just have to ask, really.

Actor — That’s what I’m talking about! But don’t wait too long. I’ve made that mistake before. Is she a rider?

  • Is she willing to do anything for you, trustworthy, does she like you a lot?

Charles nodded, halfway not understanding the question.

Actor — Oh, well then she’ll wait for you. Still, don’t take too long. Take my advice.

.

Two young girls together representing the meaning of Day One, informal English term
Together since day one – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Day one

This term comes from an older one, “Since day one.” This is used to describe someone who has been there for you since the beginning, during hard times, and has stuck by your side the whole time. Calling someone a day-one means they are generally your closest and most trusted friend, and you respect them a lot for being there for you after years and years.

.

Charles — I won’t. She’s been a good friend to me since we met. I come from another country and it can be hard to make friends.

Actor — I get that. I couldn’t imagine being so far from home without family or friends close by. I couldn’t live without my day-ones, too. They’re the ones that keep me together.

  • Without my closest, most trusted friends.

Charles — Yeah, well I didn’t have any super close friends like that back home anyway. I had to make some new friends here. But Sheila and Jonah have been there for me in lots of situations. They’re like my new day-ones.

Actor — Well, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Good talking, bro. I never knew your story, so thanks for sharing.

Charles — Don’t mention it. I’ll see you at the next rehearsal. Or the next time you lose your phone.

The actor laughed at this statement and waved at Charles with a sarcastic smile.

Actor — See you next time. And call that girl!

.

Final Thoughts

Saying bet is usually more informal, so it’s often used with friends or in casual settings. It’s not that it could be offensive, but it just sounds quite informal. It’s a pretty useful word you can use much the same as “okay, cool, for sure,” and so on. Ride-or-die and rider are mostly compliments and terms of respect, although they can be seen as disrespectful if they aren’t used correctly. “Rider” can have a negative connotation at times, so make sure the meaning is clear if you do ever use it. Otherwise, day-one is a very respecting and caring term, and it’s a great way to refer to a close friend, companion, or anyone that’s been there for you for a long time. We usually use it with friends though, and not family members like parents.

Do you get it? If you want, take some time to practice with these questions below. And make sure to learn some other words with the Adventures of Charles series. Be safe out there!

Questions:

  1. Can you use today’s words in your own sentences? Bet – Ride or die – Rider – Day one
  2. Are there any ride-or-dies or day-ones in your life? Who are they?
  3. What is something you would “bet money on?”
  4. Have you heard the slang word “bet” before in casual conversation? When was that?

Where I go? (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota

Languages learners, English enthusiasts … we have another one. Listen here to the audio version of “Where I go?” from the Adventures of Charles. You can listen to the audio by itself on this page or listen and read along with the original post here. Test your listening skills by answering some follow-up questions or writing a comment after. Follow the blog if you want to be notified directly of new content. Thanks and enjoy!

my bad_there you go_there it is_there you have it

Thanks to my student Bianca V. for helping me with this audio!

Some practice questions:

  1. In what situations might it be better to use “my bad”? What about “sorry”?
  2. Have you ever said or heard these phrases when receiving an object or giving something away?
  3. How do you usually react when someone bumps into you in the street or on public transportation? Would you be as respectful as Charles was?

Aren’t there a lot of black people in America, like on T.V.? – Black identity in the USA

The story of the U.S. is a complicated and controversial one, and few things add to that controversy than the question of race. Topics related to race, slavery, civil rights, citizenship, and even cultural identity can be traced to one of America’s most important groups of people. Speaking of that cultural identity you, as a foreigner, might have noticed that many famous movies (Coming to America, Training Day, Black Panther), T.V. shows (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Everybody Hates Chris, My Wife and Kids), and social figures (Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey) are African Americans or star lots of black people. When you talk about singers and musical influence, black Americans almost take home the prize for most impactful internationally. With all this influence, you might expect to go to the U.S. and see tons of black folks walking around everywhere. But are there really that many of us?

Fortnite now has a Black Panther skin and a Wakanda Forever emote - Polygon
Even Fortnite uses black culture, Wakanda Forever! from Polygon.com

I previously wrote about the misconception of America being pretty much all white, but this is an interesting turn of thinking. Maybe after seeing and listening to so many things featuring black people, you might conclude:

Hey, there has to be a lot of black people in the U.S., right? Why else would they be so prevalent on T.V. and music and all that?

Well, the answer would be no; black people in America aren’t as prevalent as you might think.

How it can feel to be black in America sometimes… Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

To be fair, even I was surprised by how many African Americans there truly are. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of black Americans. As I said in a previous post, black people are actually a majority or almost half the population in several cities across the country, in places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, and many others. Despite all that, there are almost 330 million Americans, and people who identify as only black are 13.4% (about 44 million). So yes, that is a lot of black people, but it’s a small number compared to all the other people in the country.

Of course, you have to remember that many African Americans are not fully “black” but may identify as black because of reasons related to cultural identity, family ties, or simply not thinking that much about the question. You might find a light-skinned person with African ancestry more likely to identify as “black” if he or she grew up around mostly black people, lives around mostly black people, and identifies mostly with black American culture. This goes back to the One Drop Rule in the U.S., to which I’ll leave a link for more information down below. That also leaves us with blacks who might consider themselves “mixed-race” even though they are darker-skinned, but that’s a little less common. By the way, colored and mulatto used to be acceptable terms for mixed people, but they are considered offensive by most people nowadays.

Although black people practically make up a small minority in the U.S., there are reasons why they might seem so prevalent on T.V. and other media. One is that the country is huge! 13 percent of 330 million is still a ton of people, so of course, they seem like a lot. Another point is that many of these people went to urban areas like big cities after slavery and especially after suffering discrimination/violence in the South. Cities are where most of the cultural output comes from, so that’s why we seem to have so many black actors, musicians, musical styles, and social figures. Several of these figures exist purely because of the discrimination blacks have suffered. Black people in politics are on the rise recently too, so that could add to this misconception.

One more point I want to make is that black people have been severely and openly discriminated against in the U.S. for centuries, and people who supported slavery had all kinds of misconceptions about race, ethnicity, and what was good for the nation. Of course black people, and almost any minority in fact, have suffered all over the world, but the U.S. handled it a bit differently. After creating some highly significant social leaders and leading its own power movements, a big push has been made by black Americans to support each other, promote each other, and work with each other. There has been such a big momentum with black people trying to “catch up” with white Americans and have equality that this has allowed black people to be present in almost all facets of American life. Think of “#OscarsSoWhite” and the following year when a ton of black movies and filmmakers won awards. Even though black Americans in general are pretty well represented and better off than black people in almost all other American countries (think of Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, and many African nations for that matter), there is always a push for more equality and representation. I suppose all people deserve this and I’m glad to help represent my country and ancestry, even if it’s in a subtle, blog-writing way.

Black-ish guy making a movie, Photo by KASHILEMBO WABU

Even if there aren’t as much of us as you might have thought, I encourage you to keep listening to our music, keep watching our T.V., and keep supporting our social movements. Black people just want respect like anybody else, and I’m sure that they’d be proud to know how truly influential black U.S. culture has been all over the world. Keep up the support!

Speaking of support, I appreciate you for reading this post! Feel free to check the resources below to learn more and keep an open mind. If you liked this post, read some other ones here on the website. Tell me what you think of black American culture or people in the comments, or send me an email at tietewaller@gmail.com. Cool? Peace and take care!

Resources:

U.S. census info 2019: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219

America’s “One Drop Rule” explained: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/mixed/onedrop.html

About #OscarsSoWhite: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2016/02/02/oscars-academy-award-nominations-diversity/79645542/

Short girl travel fall – “trip” “freak out” “flip out” “shorty/shawty” and more, meanings & uses

To my English learners out there: Have you ever been in a situation — maybe been watching a movie — and the experience just feels like you are in another dimension, another world, and you’ve essentially left planet Earth? Well, today’s terms are great for these “otherworldly” experiences. I’m going to discuss some informal terms that use the word “trip” as well as similar terms like “freak” and “flip.” At the end I’ll talk about the word “shorty.” We’ll observe these words with the help of our old friend, Charles. If you find this information helpful, share it with someone you know is learning English. Cool? Let’s do it!

Today’s terms: trip, trippy / trip out, freak out, flip out / tripping, slipping / shorty, shawty

1. Trip – Trippy

Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

So we know what a trip is. Taking a drive down the coast, going camping in the mountains, a vacation to Disneyland. But trip also has a more figurative meaning. You can call a situation or an event “a trip” when it is really crazy, spectacular, or unexpected. Sometimes when someone is being really funny or silly, you can call that person “a trip” too. Trippy has almost the same meaning but is an adjective. It describes situations that are very strange, crazy, and almost supernatural. You might see a ghost and say, “Wow, that was trippy.” On the other hand, “trip” can be used as a verb to talk about someone who is acting badly or in a stupid way. In this case don’t trip is also a common way to tell someone “don’t worry.”

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Charles was in the recording studio with his friend, Sheila, as she was finishing recording a song. He was bouncing his head and enjoying every second of the lively music with the swirling sound of the musical track. The producer noticed that Charles was enjoying the beat he had made.

Charles — Man, this song is just wild how it fills up your brain and every part of your body just wants to dance!

Producer — I know, the sound is trippy, right? It’s one of my favorite tracks.

  • The sound is really cool, crazy, and almost supernatural.

Charles — Well, your beats are always a trip. That’s why I love to come here and listen to you guys record live. Sorry if I’m intruding, by the way.

  • The beats are always fun, enjoyable, interesting, and kind of strange at the same time.

Producer — Don’t trip, bro. You can come anytime you want.

  • Don’t worry about it.

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2. Trip out – Freak out – Flip out

Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

Now remembering the words from above, these next terms carry a similar meaning. If “trip” can sometimes mean “to worry,” then to trip out means to worry a lot, but in a way that you are almost paranoid. This term is common for referring to people who get paranoid on drugs and act in a very strange way. They trip out. Trip has been used to talk about the experience of getting high on drugs, so this relationship makes sense. Still, you can trip out even when you’re not on drugs. Same for freak out or flip out, these terms mean to overreact to a situation, or react to something in a very dramatic or exaggerated way. Freaking out or flipping out can come in many forms, like getting mad, being really paranoid, or being super scared or anxious. Some people also just say freak or flip, but the same meaning is implied when used as a verb.

The producer looked over at Charles and saw that he was almost falling into a weird dream state.

Producer — Psst! Dude, are you okay? You look like you’re tripping out.

  • He looks like he is dreaming, like he is on drugs, like his body is being taken over by something.

Charles popped his eyes open and stood up quickly.

Charles — What? Oh, man, I thought I was dreaming. The music together with Sheila’s voice is putting me in a trance, I think. Feels like her voice is coming to attack me or something, to control my mind.

Producer — Okay, well that’s a bit much. Maybe you wanna step outside and take a breath before you start flipping out.

  • Before you start acting crazy, acting paranoid, or have some kind of loud and weird reaction.

Charles — No, no, I can handle it. Sorry, I didn’t know I would freak like this.

  • I didn’t know I would have this weird reaction, act strangely this way, act paranoid like this. He could also say “freak out” here with the same meaning.

Producer — It’s all good. She’s almost done recording, anyway.

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3. Tripping – Slipping

Going back to the meaning of trip as “worrying,” we see that tripping is when someone is acting strange or worrying too much about something. Tripping can also mean to act in a way that other people don’t like. Slipping is a similar idea, but it’s used to say that someone is not doing something well. Usually, it’s a situation where the person was really good at something before but has been doing worse in more recent times.

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Sheila finally finished singing and came out of the recording booth. She didn’t look very happy.

Sheila — Dang, that sucked. I can’t believe my voice sounds like that.

Producer — What are you talking about?! You sang great! You had your friend Charles over here looking like he was going to grow wings and fly away.

Sheila — Aw, is that true? I thought I was slipping.

  • I thought my singing was getting worse, my voice isn’t as good as usual.

Charles — Yeah, I was about to catch a rocket ship and fly to Mars while you were singing. Haha.

Producer — Your voice is as good as ever, girl, strop tripping.

  • Stop worrying, stop acting insecure like that.

Sheila — Thanks you guys. I do sound pretty great, don’t I?

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4. Shorty – Shawty

Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash

These final words are actually the same word. They both are used to refer to a woman in general, and they are often used as terms of endearment (loving terms). For example, some men call their girlfriends shorty, or even a woman they are attracted to. This term is more common for young women, and even girls can be called “shorty.” I have an Aunt Shorty (not her birth name), to give you an idea. Shorty in the past wasn’t always for just women either. It used to be a nickname for men too, especially short men. More recently because of music, in the States calling someone “shorty” gives a sense of care or femininity, at least. Shawty is just a more informal way of pronouncing the same word.

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Producer — Yeah, Sheila, you’re my star singer here. Of all the shawties that come here to record, you’re the best.

  • Of all the young ladies that come here.

Sheila took a bow and went to the restroom to clean the sweat off her nervous forehead.

Charles — What do you think? Is she taken?

Producer — Huh? What do you mean? You have a crush on Sheila?! Ooh, I’m telling!

They laugh together.

Charles — Nah, shut up bro! I’m serious. I might try to make her my shorty.

  • Make her my girlfriend or go out with her. It sounds less serious and more casual, even though he means something serious.

Producer — As far as I know, she’s never had a man come in here and watch her like you do. Try asking her.

Charles nodded at the producer as he noticed Sheila coming out of the bathroom.

Sheila — Ready to go?

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Basically, tripping and words like it (freak, flip) are related to strange and undesirable behavior. Sometimes it can be worrying, paranoia, or someone just asking too many questions. Slipping has to do with not being as good at something as before, or even being lazy at something. Some other terms I want to add real quick are slip up or trip up which both mean to “make a mistake.” Think of it as falling over your own feet or slipping on a banana peel. Those both are good phrasal verbs to add to your vocabulary. Another note about “shorty” is that sometimes men refer to a woman as a “shorty” when they don’t want to sound like they are super interested or in love with her. It’s kind of to look more manly or look tough, we can say to “downplay” their attraction for that woman. Of course, you don’t have to use these words, but you might enjoy understanding them in natural contexts, especially in current music.

Okay! What do you think? Was this helpful? Let me know if you know how to use these words, or write me a few example sentences if you have time. Comment if you’ve heard these words before! And don’t forget to follow the blog and read other posts, you might find something you’ll like. Until the next time, take care y’all!

Aren’t all the U.S. states and cities basically the same? – Regional diversity in the USA

Anyone who’s traveled inside the U.S.A. knows the answer to this already. For now though, I want to tackle this from a cultural perspective. I’m thinking of opening a new category later on that focuses on geographical differences. This here is about the American people. I’ll break this post up quickly into the following categories:

  • religion
  • gun control
  • ethnic background
  • political stance
  • language & immigration
  • the weather factor
  • identity

I also won’t talk about every state and city, but I’ll try to break it down enough to give you a good idea. Starting off!

Religion

I want to begin with one of the most easily distinguishable differences between different states in general. As you might remember from my post about religion (if not, please check it here), the U.S. is mostly a Protestant nation. However, you’ll remember that some places are less Protestant than others. While about 70% of Americans are Christians, there is a higher concentration of them in this general region called the South. That’s why this region is generally known as the “Bible Belt,” and it’s where you normally find the most religious and traditional communities. Otherwise, the Mormon communities are identified as the “most religious” group in America, which I guess means they’re super devout. Other hardline religious and cultural groups are the Amish and Mennonites around Pennsylvania and Ohio mostly.

Peek at map showing the dominant religion in each U.S. county
Credit Robby Berman from here

This map explains pretty much all I want to say about religion. Among Christians, the Evangelists and Black Protestants are super prevalent in the Bible Belt. Mainline Protestants are more common in the North, while Hispanic Catholics are really prevalent close to the Mexican border and around Miami. Otherwise, Catholics fill up the Northeast, and there are even a few enclaves in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas around where the Spanish and French used to have more influence. Mormons are really popular in the West, especially around Utah, and Native American Catholics have little enclaves throughout the West. Cool.

On the other hand, New England (Northeast) altogether tends to be the least-religious part of the country. But you can see, even within most of the states, religious affiliations change based on the region. Southern Florida, Texas and Louisiana are mostly Catholic while the northern parts are Protestant. The opposite is true in Illinois. And that should be a good enough intro for you.

Gun Control

Credit Kathy Morris from here

That’s right! American states differ greatly on whether they support gun control or not. Unlike religion, this concept has less of a pattern. There really doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to which states support more gun control over others when we talk about permits. States that require permits vs those that don’t are pretty scattered all over the place. However, when we look at states that are gun-friendly, or are more accepting of having guns in general, the trends become more clear. These places usually coincide with states that are more rural or where people most like to go hunting.

The South and some parts of the West are pretty evenly supportive of guns. There are some lone anomalies, like Nevada in the West, Iowa in the Midwest, or New Hampshire in New England. Overall, it’s easy to see the trend. Southern states support guns. A couple of random states in the Midwest support guns. Some random western states and most of the Northeast don’t support guns. Apparently, Delaware, New Jersey, and Hawaii really hate guns. I feel like the big game hunting isn’t so good in those states, though.

Ethnic Background

The U.S. is definitely a diverse nation where nearly all ethnicities and nationalities (not to mention cuisines) can be found. What is Laotian food, anyway?

However, this too depends on the state or city in question. For example, most big cities have more diverse populations than the rural areas. There are several cities with more “minorities” than there are white people (check my other article here for more on this). Looking across the board, cities are usually where you’ll find a large chunk of diversity at.

Read it on Reddit

Still, there are some other factors to look at. As you can see, people of English ancestry are found especially in the South and the West. German ancestry is all over that central-north area of the country, while Scandinavian ancestry sits way in the North. The Irish filled up around New England, while Italians were mostly around the Tri-State area (Metro New York). Native Americans are dotted about the West, while you even see many Inuit at the top of Alaska. French ancestry is strong in the Northeast and around southern Louisiana. Something to remember about the German area is that, even though it takes up the most space, most of that region has a small and scattered population.

Political Stance

Now, I don’t like to get political, trust me. I will say that every state pretty much has either strong support for Democrats or Republicans. Some things to look for are that the West Coast, some western states, and the Northeast tend to swing more left, while most the other states swing right. Still, you’ll find that across the country, most large urban areas will be more liberal-minded than not, and most rural or small urban areas will lean conservative. There are a few small exceptions to this, but it is almost the rule when looking at political stance.

Something else that’s interesting is the so-called “Swing States.” These are states that are caught in the middle and may stand on one side or the other depending on who’s running for office. Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are classic examples of Swing States. In the most recent election (2020) some states like Georgia or Arizona proved to be new examples of Swing States. Even Texas showed to be a little more liberal than usual, despite its long history of being overwhelmingly conservative. No matter what you thought of the election, there’s no denying that some places in America feel a little more blue than red. All we need is a white party to complete the American flag. Maybe it could balance the other two?

Language & Immigration

We already looked at ancestral ties between Americans in different states, but what about the newcomers? You might know that Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the U.S., but who speaks it depends on where you are. The Southwest has the most Spanish speakers, but most of them are from Mexico, with a big group of Central Americans and small groups of others. Meanwhile, Florida and the East Coast have tons more Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and South Americans. Oh, and a lot of Mexicans too. Geography plays a role in this, since the East is closer to the Caribbean, while the West literally touches on Mexico.

You also get lots of Asians with their respective languages in major cities, but especially on the West Coast and New York. Some of the biggest and most authentic Asian communities are in places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and so on. Of course, the West and East coasts are closest to Asia, so that’s where a bunch of the Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Indian, and even Middle Eastern immigrants have gone along with their various languages. For more on languages, check this post.

Something else to look at is historic minorities in the U.S. African Americans are especially prevalent in both the South, since that’s where most the African slaves were taken, and big cities since that’s where they moved to find work and security after being freed. Native Americans are most prevalent in parts of the West because that’s where the most open and inhospitable parts of the country are. Many nations and tribes were driven from their homelands further east and forced to relocate out West, trading lush forests and rivers for, you know, deserts, tornadoes, and rattlesnakes. They were also forced to live with the people that already occupied these regions which was a problem because they spoke completely different languages, had different cultures, and were already there. Well, that’s another post.

Weather Factor

Speaking of tornadoes, a big part of the identity of someone from any given state or city is their weather. It might sound trivial at first, but I’ll show you. Think of Southern California and what comes to mind? Sunshine, beaches, and palm trees — I hope. Please, try not to think of anything bad! But this is the association someone from SoCal has, and so it goes for any other state or region. Seattle is famous for being rainy and cloudy, Arizona is known for extreme desert climates, Colorado is known for its mountains and skiing, and Florida is known for being sunny and tropical, with the occasional tropical storm. Chicago is famous for being windy and cold in the winter, while Hawaii is a paradise where it’s always a nice beach day. The weather ends up determining a lot of how we perceive each state and city.

Identity

So, you put all these factors together and you get a good idea of what the identity of someone from a certain state or region might be like. There are many other factors, by the way, and no two people are the same, but this can give you an idea. For example, someone from New York City is more likely to be a Catholic with Italian ancestry who doesn’t really approve of guns, probably a Democrat who speaks English but if they speak Spanish they’re family is likely from the Caribbean or maybe they immigrated from China, they definitely like Chinese and Caribbean food but they’re used to hot summers and freezing cold winters. Anyway, they might be none of those things, but you get the point. Every state and major city is a little (or a lot) different.

Alright! Tell me what you think of this post. Does your country have lots of diversity like the U.S.? Can you name some other differences between the states? Do you want to guess my profile based on this list? (hint, hint) I’m from Los Angeles.

Also, contact me or send me a question if you want to know more, talk, or give some suggestions for future posts. Right here: tietewaller@gmail.com

Thanks and be safe!

Here are some more resources:

Religion in the U.S.: https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

Map of religions by county: https://bigthink.com/robby-berman/dominant-religions-in-the-us-county-by-county

Least religious places in U.S.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_religiosity#:~:text=According to a 2011 Gallup,%)%20were%20near%20the%20median.

Gun-friendly states: https://www.zippia.com/advice/least-gun-friendly-states/

Ethnic Ancestry in the U.S.: https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/bfpbzu/largest_ancestry_groups_in_the_united_states_by/