By Chandra D.L. Waring, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.) In telling the story of Cassius, a young Black man who becomes an extraordinarily successful telemarketer after he starts using his “White voice,” it showcases the magnitude of racial and class oppression. Colloquially, Cassius’ use of a “White voice” is known as code-switching, and the film highlights something that most African-Americans could probably tell you: The ability to code-switch is often a prerequisite to becoming a successful Black person in America. As a race scholar and sociologist, I’ve studied biracial Americans who engage in code-switching. I found that the ability to deftly code-switch has some real advantages. But it also has its fair share of pitfalls. More broadly, it has led me to wonder what the persistence of code-switching tells us about race, opportunities and making connections in America today. Adapting to the dominant culture Code-switching is the practice of interacting in different ways depending on the social context, and it isn’t limited to race. Most of us interact differently when hanging out with friends than we would during a job interview. However, due in large measure to… Read full this story
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