What is commonly referred to as ‘internet slang’ is just appropriation of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). If you are not aware of what AAVE is, it is “a variety (dialect, ethnolect and sociolect) of American English, most commonly spoken today by urban working-class and largely bi-dialectal middle-class African Americans” (Richey Collazo, Affinity Magazine).

For decades now, white people have been taking AAVE and claiming it as their own new ‘trendy’ words.

AAVE has been used as a weapon against the Black community by white people claiming that people who spoke the dialect were somehow ‘uneducated.’ The only time where it becomes an acceptable form of communication is when white people and white corporations decide to popularize it for their own benefit.

Many people try to defend these actions by claiming they are just words, but it is a whole variety of English that white people are not a part of, and do not need to be.

White people are not criticized for sounding ‘ghetto’ by using AAVE in their everyday language; instead they are seen as cool.

A lot of times it is the LGBTQ+ community who contribute to this theft of AAVE.

You may remember when ‘yas queen’ was one of the most popular slang words amongst the LGBTQ+ community. That term was popularized within the Black LGBTQ+ community, but was used by Black people both gay and straight long before white people decided to claim it.

TikTok has also widely contributed to the more recent surge in white people using AAVE when they should not. With trends coming and going even faster than they used to, due to the popularity of TikTok, now trendy words are doing the same.

It is easy to hear someone using a word or phrase and start saying it as well without thinking. However, a lot of the time the phrase is not yours to say.

It is not just words. You are not just saying a phrase that is now popular. The words you are saying have a history. They have been around. You are just now discovering them, and deciding to use them without any understanding.

The next time you hear a new slang word being thrown around on social media, think about where it is coming from; who are they appropriating the word from? Do not just blindly join in, educate yourself and those around you.