Slang White People Like

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 12:51 PM PDT

I don't know much about the folks at Soft Skull Media. Apparently, it's some kind of underground publishing house, or used to be. I dunno. But, I got a 'please review this book' plea from them today, which is utterly unusual in my line of work, free books being one of the decidedly few perks of my job. If that sad benny is is meant to offset the myriad "why is Debra Dickerson so stupid" blog posts, it's failing miserably.

Anyway, just another day on the job, just another pitch for a book which, for once, sounds at least initially interesting, until I get to the sign-off: "Holler for review copies, eh?". Holler, not holla, but in either case: ironic wiggerness in the workplace.

I'm intellectually anal-retentive, so I can't help but burn daylight wondering: Did potential white reviewers get the same sign-off? Or have white folks developed several sets of 'pitch' macros with labels like "black, but an Uncle Tom who'll find this ironic," "white, but living in dream world wherein they're cool," and "confused, but too cowed to make waves."?

I don't know if it's better or worse that it's not a 'black' book...ok. It's better. But just what is it with white folks and black slang? And how do y'all know when it's appropriate?

And since we're on the subject: Why is the cabbage patch the universal dance of white joy?

I'm gonna ask the Soft Skull folks what up with the 'holler' and how long the staff meeting in which they debated the merits of 'holler' vs 'holla' was. Maybe they were being ironic. I often use formulations (with white institutions) such as "give a sister a...." etc—but I do it to be a bitch who makes her white friends uncomfortable in a way in which they can't respond. What's their motivation?

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