Story at a glance

  • A "Saturday Night Live" skit sought to find humor in Generation Z speaking in slang appropriated from African American Vernacular English.
  • The skit fell flat and was criticized for mocking AAVE, which Black people are often discriminated against for using.
  • The skit also prompted a discussion of white youth culturally appropriating Black culture.

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.   


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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. 


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Published on May 10, 2021