Social norms are not tangible. If we are asked to list 10 social norms surrounding us, we'd be stuck for quite a while before we can form coherent thoughts and list some of the rules that shape us. These norms exist without our consent, without our realization. I chose to defy the norm of accents in an American community. Something as subtle as the way we speak can act as the primary agent of our categorization in the society.
When I arrived to the US, I was being bombarded by all the typical cultural shocks any Arab would face. One thing that really stood out to me was the amount of attention I got the minute I said something. I never thought I have an "accent" (if we actually consider it a legitimate concept, instead of a made up norm) till I came here. I chose to ignore the insulting inquisitions about my nationality that were a never-ending process I had to go throw every time I spoke. However, as the amount of attention grew, I decided to speculate and see what exactly is the definition of an accent in this community.
To clarify, I don't know what exactly is my accent, so to speak. I taught myself how to speak and picked up my language from many different cultures due to the diversity of the community I was raised in. I started noticing the subtle, and not-so-subtle, reactions I get whenever I speak. For example, I'd be going to get coffee from a café and decide to order a latte. My pronunciation of the word is different from how people pronounce it here. So, occasionally, the barista would give me a curious look, repeat "latte" while
emphasizing on how it is pronounced in America, and ask if that's what I meant. This process would repeat regardless of who is working that shift.
To experiment, I decided to make my "accent" severe and incomprehensible to most Americans. I decided to speak the way Egyptians do as they are considered to have one of the heaviest Arab accents in English. I wanted to test these categorizing norms formed by the white...