CODE-SWITCHING DIARIES #2

The AUX Cord Expectations — Codeswitching Diaries #2

Black™ Twitter has found my playlist, and they’re going to take my card away.

My Black card—everything I’ve worked for. Learning the Cupid Shuffle, running away from the dance floor when “Before I Let Go” comes on for a “water break” (I never learned the steps) and running back for “Knuck if You Buck” (THAT one, I know). Pretending that I know how to play dominoes (I slap the domino down loud enough to clear up any uncertainty). Learning spades in secret before a tournament among acquaintances (I will still lose).

All the things I thought would solidify my identity into one smooth jojoba oil-laced word — Black (also pronounced buh-laque, for the Talented Tenth).

But, this façade only lasts for so long. I have nightmares of the day that they discover my true playlists. The ones I cannot play at a party — the forbidden fruits of the AUX cord.

This day has come — one minute I’m blissfully scrolling through my favorite YouTubers, the next, a portal opens up on my laptop screen, and I sit before the Black Twitter Council.

They all smell of shea butter and cocoa butter — strapped with Fenty skin and polished sneakers. Not a crooked hairline, lace-front, box braid or afro in sight.

They scroll past my burner playlists—the ones with Beyoncé songs I don’t even like that much (but not in that allegedly “chic” way of hating Beyoncé just to feel different) and Rihanna songs that I really like. I draw the line at Chris Brown and R. Kelly, but like most bad feminists, I can’t keep track of every bad thing every man has said about women (especially Black women), and I might accidentally play a J. Cole song where he says p*ssy in fifteen different demeaning (albeit creative) ways. I’ll replace his songs with Noname later.

But I sweat. Profusely, now, because the real danger hasn’t even arrived yet. I can double-dutch, I can braid, I can (sort of) cornrow, and I can cook. I’ve passed most of their tests, but now they want to look at my private playlists.

Yes, all of them.

I cry out what an injustice this is — that the ACLU and NAACP will know about this. But the council is above the law. They begin scrolling.

There are a few Prince songs on there to deflect attention from my other “avant garde” music choices, and they can, of course, forgive Bon Jovi and Billy Joel, but the council’s face pulls downwards into a collective, deep scowl when they see it. Yes, it.

Play it on the AUX cord, a girl with a Melanin t-shirt and septum ring howls.

The first guitar chords ring out. They ask me what shit I have on. I swallow hard and whisper:

Dolly Parton.

Yes, Dolly Parton is on my Black™ playlist.

The woman destined to replace all Confederate statues in Tennessee. The golden-haired not so problematic but still oh-so-not-buh-laque Dolly Parton.

The decision is unanimous, and swift. My Black card will be revoked for the next 90 days, and my AUX cord privileges revoked indefinitely. No, they don’t care that I’ve got the best 90’s and early 00’s playlists in this zip code— this fateful decision to include this blonde icon over other Black artists has ruined me.

No, no! Please, I have a Twitter account, appearances to keep up — I just hit 100 followers!

They do not hear my pleas. Someone on the council makes a comment about my “warm” potato salad with raisins (I would never!).

She’s a storyteller, I argue. I personally haven’t heard her say anything racist, I implore!

But my demise comes swift — a comment about how Terry Crews might enjoy my playlist. That’s when I realize I’ve lost them all, and there is no reversing my punishment —that I will never be handed the AUX cord ever again.

The Codeswitching Diaries are a collection of vignettes, flash fiction, and micro-memoirs about Blackness™ in elite and unexpected spaces. The first entry is available here (link will take you to another Medium article).

*Please note that Dolly Parton remains on my playlist and I’m still allowed to use the AUX cord, as I am not legally bound to the decisions of the Black Twitter court room.

Writer and Poet, Grad Student, Dreamer. You’re doing great sweetie. Website: mayajameswrites.wordpress.com Twitter: @mayawritesgood

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