So you know what “bestie,” “I’m so pressed,” “catch hands” and “give us the tea,” all mean — but do you know their origins? That’s the question many viewers are asking after a “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”) skit sought to poke fun at language used by Generation Z that originated in African American Vernacular English (AAVE).
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On social media, some took offense at the skit’s depiction of AAVE terms as slang used by young people without paying credit to Black culture. It didn’t help that the cultural appropriation wasn’t just offensive, but also inaccurate — and, to some, just not funny.
the appropriation of AAVE by white people is gross, the mislabeling of AAVE as a “Gen Z phenomenon” is also gross, but on top of that, the SNL skit reads like they just pulled a list of terms from UrbanDictionary and sprinkled them in, not caring that AAVE has a defined grammar! https://t.co/4Og94adTJw
— Aditya Mukerjee, the Otterrific ️ (@chimeracoder) May 9, 2021
white kids in Minnesota talking about “gang shit” and “spilling tea” bitch fuck off!
— embalming fluid (@kewashere) May 9, 2021
The origins of AAVE itself is a hodgepodge of cultural influences used by enslaved people in the United States and has its own phonology, grammar and other linguistic rules. While Black people have been punished and discriminated against for their use of AAVE, white people have appropriated parts of the language without consequence for decades.
Some speculated that the joke was actually on Gen Z, especially white youth who have found fame and even profit on Tik Tok and other platforms by culturally appropriating Black culture and language, such as AAVE. But not everyone was convinced that SNL was in on their own joke.
Additionally I don’t think the SNL writers are smart enough to be making some kind of meta commentary about teens appropriating AAVE. I think they just noticed a couple phrases crossing over & just went ham overloading the sketch with it because old ppl laugh at teens being weird
— ☾ Gay Bigfoot ♡︎ (@unicorninagony) May 9, 2021
yeah totally it’s clearly satire, but i think people don’t have enough faith in snl’s humour to feel like they know what they’re doing when they’re mocking gen-z’s use of aave, so it just seems like they’re mocking aave to them lol
— Bolu Babalola (@BeeBabs) May 9, 2021
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