Welcome To The Kandid Shop!!

Code-Switching & Other Identity Dilemmas

On today's episode we’re diving into “code-switching, what it is, why we do it and do we really need to do it anymore?

On today's episode we’re diving into “code-switching, what it is, why we do it and do we really need to do it anymore?

Joining me for this long overdue discussion are :

Host of the Frazier Chronicles Podcast Mr. David Frazier

Industrial & Organizational  Psychology Practitioner, Founder & CEO of Junuri & Junuri Publishing and, Author of "Sharing My Lens: The College Experience", Dr. Juliette Nelson

Psychologist & Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, Dr. Myles Durkee

In a poll conducted in my FB group "Kandidly Speaking"  I asked the question:

“How many of you code switch around non- BIPOC people and be honest?”  

Of the respondents;

40% said, I do it daily,

35% said I do it sometimes

15% said, Nope, I talk the same regardless. 

10% said, What the hell is code switching? 

- In 2019, Pew Research found that 48% of college black college graduates in America felt the need to change how they talk around people of other races

So, what exactly is code-switching? Websters defines code-switching as, "the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation."

Well my guests each had their own unique, yet similar take on code-switching.

"I would define code switching as, adapting myself depending on the context I'm in, but typically to accommodate someone else's comfort. So to make them feel more comfortable so that they'll either treat me more fairly or not see me through the lens of stereotypes and stigma." ~Dr. Myles Durkee

"So code switching. If I had to come up with a terminology for it, it would mean to me basically changing who you really are to meet a demand somewhere else." ~ David Frazier

"I would say code switch is changing your use of language in a sense, or vernacular to adjust to the environment that you're in. That might often come with the intention of trying to fit in. I think we might find that often happening in places where we don't necessarily identify with other people around us. But it can also occur in times when we want to fit in even the spaces with the people we identify with. " ~Dr. Juliette Nelson

Code-switching often goes beyond language adjustments and can include, changing your hair, clothes, behaviors to be more acceptable and/or less threatening to in spaces where you are the minority.

Listen to the full discussion and let me know what your thoughts are on code-switching!



Dr. Juliette Nelson:





Dr. Myles Durkee:



David Frazier:






Intro Music:

"Welcome to The Kandid Shop" Anthony Nelson aka BUSS_TE

https://music.apple.com/us/artist/buss/252316338   Outro Music:  Big Mouth Animated Series: "A Very Special 9/11 Episode" Copyright: Netflix, Amuseio AB (on behalf of Teawa); Wixen Music Publishing, Inc., UMPG Publishing, and 3 Music Rights Societies   Episode Recorded Live on 10/11/2022








Kandidly Kristin


Code-Switching & other Identity Dilemmas

Kandidly Kristin: Hey, hey, hey, Podcast Nation. It's your girl, Kandidly, Kristin. And this is the Kandid Shop where we keep it Kandid. Tonight we are gonna do a deep dive into code switching, what it is, why we do it, and do we really need to do it anymore.

Joining me for this long overdue and important discussion are host of the Frazier Chronicles podcast, Mr. David Frazier. Industrial and organizational psychology practitioner, founder and CEO of JUNURI and JUNURI Publishing and author of “Sharing my Lens, The College Experience,” Dr. Juliette Nelson. And last but certainly not least, Psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, Dr. Myles Durkee.

Okay. Okay, so welcome, welcome, welcome, David and Juliette. Are you guys both hearing okay.

David Frazier: I could hear you.

Dr. Myles Durkee: So I had to manually hit the mute and mute button. I could hear, I think that might do it. I could hear you as well.

Kandidly Kristin: Okay. Yay. I was getting nervous. I'm over here sweating and whatnot. Okay, so before, uh, the Kandid Shop went on hiatus for the summer, I had posted a poll to the Facebook group, Kandidly speaking, and the poll was, “How many of you code switch around non- BIPOC people and be honest?”  So of the respondents, 40% said, I do it daily, 35% said I do it. Sometimes 15% said, Nope, I talked the same regardless. And 10% said, What the hell is code switching? So I thought that was interesting and because I did have what the hell is code switching in there. I wanted to first, before we dive into the meat of conversation, ask each of you to tell me what code switching means to you.

Then I'm gonna give the Webster's definition kind of, and we'll go from there. So, David, if you wanna go first and tell me what code-switching means to.

David Frazier: Yes. Yeah. So code switching. Um, if I had to come up with a terminology for it, it would mean to me basically changing who you really are to meet a demand somewhere else. That's what I would say.

Kandidly Kristin: Okay. All right. And Juliette. And Juliette, do you want me to call you Juliette, Dr. Nelson? Which do you prefer?.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Juliette, if you hit the mute button and then unmute it again, it might work. That did the trick for me.

Kandidly Kristin: Nope, we can't hear you, Juliette. Hmm. All right. We gotta figure out what's going on with Juliette's sound, but in the meantime, Myles, if you would give us. Your definition of code switching, what it means to you?

Dr. Myles Durkee: Yeah, so I like that question cause you're just, I'm giving like the textbook definition, right? me especially, I would define code switching as, um, adapting myself depending on the context I'm in, but typically to accommodate someone else's comfort. So to make them feel more comfortable so that they'll either treat me more fairly or not see me through the lens of stereotypes and stigma.

Kandidly Kristin: Okay, I like that one. And Juliette, are you with me? Uh, okay. Juliette, if you see a little microphone and you hit it and then hit it again, it should unmute you.

 Maybe drop off and come back in and see if that works, and then I'll send you an invite. Okay. So the Websters definition or the textbook definition is the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation. So I'm a stats person. So here's a little stat I found in my research.

In 2019, Pew Research found that 48% of college black college graduates in America felt the need to change how they talk around people of other races. So code switching for the most part has to do with language, but. It can also be behavioral, how we move, how we shake somebody's hands, how we greet them, how we ask about their day.

So there are two schools of thought. There's the correctionist approach that says that, someone's native speech is broken or poor grammar, that they're less educated and correctionist believe that, , They just need to master air quotes, correct English. Then there's the contravist approach that emphasizes the importance of language plurality.

I like the contravist approach, so if you both all, and I'm hoping Juliette gets her mic fixed. Can respond. Now we can hear you. Yay.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: So very sorry. I don't know what happened.

Kandidly Kristin: That is okay. When it's live, it's, it's all good. And it gets edited so I can fix a lot of stuff. So then I'll go back to you for your definition of what code switching is, what it is for you.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: I would say code switch is changing. Um, your use of language in a sense. Mm-hmm. , um, or vernacular to adjust the environment that you're in. Um, that might often. Come with the intention of trying to fit in. Um, I think we might find that often happening, um, in places where we don't necessarily identify with other people around us. But it can also occur in times when we want to fit in even the spaces with the people we, I, we identify with. So that's what I would, um, how I would define code switching.

Kandidly Kristin: Okay. I like all of your definitions and I kind of agree with all of them I was talking to. David and Myles earlier, Juliette, before you came on about my experience, I grew up, um, in a household full of educators.

So I always spoke like really proper English, not a lot of ebonics or slang. So I found myself code switching to fit in with people that look like me because, you know, I didn't wanna sound corny or white or whatever. So I don't know if that's reverse code switching or. But that was my experience. Um, now, Dr. Myles, I wanna go to you because you've done extensive research into the dynamics of code switching, and I'd like for you to kind of give me your take on why we do it when we do it, and is it a signal of, uh, identity issue, inferiority issue, or simply what? We just had to do to put other people at ease and to show up better in spaces where we wanted to get some kind of specific outcome.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Yeah, no, I hear that. So I'll start off by saying that code switching in and of in, of by itself is just a universal process that nearly all human beings do to some extent. So, okay. When we're interacting with someone from a different background, different culture, or just, you know, it may. Follow different norms in ourselves.

A lot of human beings are naturally gonna code switch to a certain extent, to try to find a middle ground to make communication, um, easier or more seamless. But unfortunately, we know that code su tuition isn't always voluntary. All right? And oftentimes for folks from more marginalized backgrounds, or even if you're severely underrepresented, Society creates certain circumstances where those minority folks are almost pressured and expected a code switch in order to be respected and even invited, um, and even allowed into certain spaces, right?

So that's where code switching can become toxic because then the majority group expects. People from other backgrounds to code switch to accommodate their preferences, their norms, their expectations, their standards. And that puts unfair pressure on folks who are already oftentimes marginalized and oftentimes in a severe minority, if not the only person, um, in that space.

Kandidly Kristin: Right now in your research, um, how did you see this influencing psychological social, mental health identity, academic outcomes for, I'm just gonna use the term BIPOC people.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Yeah, absolutely. So we know that code switching is exhausting because it's not easy to do. So for anyone who's tried to intentionally code switch in a brand new space. They probably realized that they quickly failed at it if it was one of the first times they'd done it or they haven't done it in a while. So right. Code switch is definitely a skillset that you have to continue to practice cuz even if you go a prolonged period of time without having a code switch, whether that's even back to your own cultural group. If you in and let's say a predominantly white space for a long period of time, it takes that adjustment process. So some of the consequences from prolonged code switching when it is more expected and forced, typically in the workplace or in educational context. I mean, it definitely leads to emotional exhaustion.

Um, in professional settings, it does contribute to burnout and burnout's, one of the number one red flags that leads to. Employee turnover, which should be a major consideration for organizational leaders to try to lessen that extent of feeling burnt out from your position. Now we're currently also looking at how it affects your mental health and wellbeing. You know, how does this affect your depressive symptoms over time, your anxiety? Um, and in our current data collection, we're looking at also how it affects your body's physical health. So how it triggers stress hormones in your body when you're forced to code switch, um, and what are the long term chronic effects of that dynamic?

Kandidly Kristin: Got it. Now, when we say force, because are, are people like standing at the door saying, You gotta talk like this, or is it small kind of microaggressive behavior that. Would make somebody believe that? Make it forced?

Dr. Myles Durkee: Yeah. So in our case, in our lab study, we are forcing them to code in. So because it's a controlled environment, we could control the social norms and expectations in that setting. So okay, we are forcing it to an extreme extent. Um, probably more, but in the real world. Typically it's the expectations of going into a new space. Um, so when you enter a space, and let's say you're on a job interview and you realize that the majority of the panel interviewing you are from are all white, are all from the dominant group, that itself can send a subtle expectation for individuals that may fill that expectation to code switch in order to accommodate the comfort of that panel that's gonna be observing and evaluating them.

Kandidly Kristin: Ok. Um, Dr. Juliette, what do you say to that same, question that I pose to Dr. Myles about? You work in a, a kind of a diversity and inclusive space in workplaces. Am I right?

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: That's correct.

Kandidly Kristin: Okay. So in what you do, how do you see code switching affecting BIPOC people's, uh, psychological identity, outcomes?

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: Right. So I, I completely agree with Dr. Myles. Um, my focus is more on the organization and the people in the organization. Um, and when you're coming from a DEI perspective, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Um, the goal is to ensure that employees are, um, accepted just as well, right? That's concept of belonging, where you don't necessarily have to adjust who you are to feel that, um, you're welcome in the space where you're at, and so, when someone has to abbreviate a part of themselves, leave a part of themselves at home.

Um, including, you know, their use of language that also impacts their performance, it impacts their feeling of psychological safety in the workplace. Um, of course, you're also concerned about how people perceive you. There's also that pressure of us having to work twice as hard, right? So it goes into you having to try twice as hard to be someone that you perhaps are not, um, or even.

Even being perceived a certain way. Right. Dr. Myles also mentioned like if, if you're used to just speaking what people may call proper English, Right? Right. All of a sudden you might be looked at differently, um, because you are seen as speaking, quote unquote white when it's just you speaking using proper English or proper grammar.

I know for myself, um, coming from, you know, being a child of immigrants, uh, Haitian parents, you know, having an accent. I know people in my circle who they do everything to get rid of their accent so that they feel like they fit in. And then when they come into the circle of their fellow Haitian brethren or their fellow West Indian brethren, all of a sudden, You know, they unleash the accent comfortably.

Right. But again, it all contributes to that feeling of psychological safety where you don't feel safe enough to be exactly who you are in the workplace.

Kandidly Kristin: Okay. And David, did you have any comments or wanna share any of your thoughts or experiences at this juncture?

David Frazier: Yes. Um, I wanna piggyback on what Dr. Juliette said, um, when she, uh, was talking about the being a part of a different culture, um, and trying to get rid of that accent.

Um, I see a lot of it happening in different work spaces, so like in office space places. So like whether it be a hospital, whether it be in your colleges. Um, a lot of people try. Fit in with that lingo. So if you have a lot of people who are, who are proper speaker, what they tend to do if they haven an accent is they try to catch or change how they talk so that they would, they won't feel like they are outsiders, if it makes sense.

Um, and, and we see that a lot, especially, um, in our workforce. And I know the workforce. It's for every changing, but when it comes to the language, the language that people speak and how they speak is really changing as well. So I wanted to just piggyback on what, um, Dr. Juliette said, even though I agree with both Dr. Myles and Dr. Juliette.

Kandidly Kristin: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. So guys, when we talk about code switching, for the most part we are talking about language, but what other ways do we code switch?

Dr. Myles Durkee: So definitely languages by far the most common aspect of code switching. I just wanted to highlight based on what David said too, is you see it very blatantly with folks answer the phone.

So I think everyone's aware of their phone voice or at least they've noticed someone else and heard their phone voice. Uh, for me, being a young kid, my mom had a very distinct phone voice, even when I called her at work. . I couldn't recognized her on the phone cuz she sounded like a white woman. So I would oftentimes ask to speak with my mom even when she answered the phone cuz she sounded like a completely different person.

Right. But some of the other dynamics of code switch it name is another important one. So we know after three decades of resume audit studies that a single name on the resume, the exact same resume, is gonna get less callbacks than a white sounding guy.

Kandidly Kristin: I'm sorry, hold on. I'm about to. No. To, uh, to block this person. Because you know, you always have trolls, ,

Dr. Myles Durkee: I saw Chucky and got a little nervous from the picture,

Kandidly Kristin: You know, like, come on now, get outta here.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Yeah. But other ways to could switch it too includes your hairstyle, jewelry selection, um, clothing style. Not only just the brand you're wearing, but even how you're wearing that clothing.

Like even a baseball cap, the way you're rocking it, your jeans, how you're wearing them. Right. Um, The way you walk your handshakes, like there's just pretty much your entire behavioral profile. You can adapt that to hit certain racial cues or to suppress certain cultural aspects of yourself. Right.

Kandidly Kristin: And hair is a big thing now for, uh, women of African American descent, whatever you wanna call it.

Like I wear locs. I am, uh, fortunate enough to. Not work in a place that, uh, has restrictions on how you wear your hair. Mm-hmm. . But there are many places that do, and I believe California is the only state that I'm aware of that has any laws in place that prohibit employers from doing that. So you have

Dr. Myles Durkee: the Crown Act, I believe.

Kandidly Kristin: Yeah. Yep. The Crown Act. Yep. You are absolutely right.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: If I may, if I may add to that, um, sure. Dr. Myles said a whole lot, which, um, I, I really appreciated. Um, I wanna start on the hair topic cuz I have blue hair. I, I once had pink hair and I had blue hair. And um, you know, when I first, uh, joined the agencies I'm working at now, um, I remember putting in extensions and I felt I put, you know, black kinky twist extensions.

But I didn't do it because of how versatile my hair was, um, or how I would normally, you know, approach doing my hair when I fit in, um, for lack of better terms. But I did it so that I was agreeable or that I was accepted. Remember sitting, um, speaking to another black woman and saying, Hey, um, you know, I have, at the time I had fire, red and blonde hair, natural hair.

And I was like, You know, I, I really wanna wear my natural hair. Is it okay? Is that accepted here? And she's like, Yeah, as long as it's neat. And it was at that moment that I was like, No. No one defines what neat looks like on this black woman's hair. Right, Right, right. Then I said, You know what? I'm gonna make that decision to just step out as whoever I am.

What I also, what I noticed is that, yes, some people were kind of thrown off by it, but I think it just takes a few people to just be like, Listen, this is who I am. Take it or leave it. If I don't fit here, then I don't wanna work here. And you'll, there will be those few people who say, You know what? No, actually you do fit here and we like you just the way you are.

Right. Um, I remember even a mentor saying, you know, when we look at white people, um, they color their hair blonde, brunette red, all these colors, and we never look at them a certain way. And then when black woman, you know, get their hair colored, or they, or even black men now, you know, getting locs or putting your hair in twists, Now side eye them.

And so I think it's, it's really important for us to have conversations and, you know, even about code switching beyond just using language. Yeah. I think even with language, um, you know, some of us, we grow up where, you know, there's a lot of slang or what some people call the black vernacular, right? Mm-hmm.

and I've heard. Black people, you know, they're trying to put on, you know, the higher pitched voice and, and get their voice down to a little bit of a whisper so they don't sound quote unquote aggressive and so on and so forth. But you can tell the struggle in them trying to twist their words of what people call slang just so that they sound agreeable.

Um, And they stumble on their words and so on and so forth. But again, you know, these conversations are important because it's like, so what if that's, if that's our vernacular, then that's what it is. You know, the point is that I'm able to conduct the service. I'm able to, um, you know, manufacture the product or get the work done.

Um, but you know, the constant judgment and forcing us to abbreviate who we are, whether it's in how we dress or the styles we wear, um, or hair color and so on and so forth, You.

Kandidly Kristin: I agree. I agree. I think we are allowed to show up how we show up and as long as we are doing the job, or like you said, performing the service, what does it matter if my hair is the way it grows outta my head?

Right. Yeah, I absolutely agree. Now, I don't know if you guys have ever seen, um, there was a 2018 film called, Sorry to Bother You. It started La Keith Stansfield, and he played a guy who was a telemarketer, right? And he was struggling to make his sales quota at this job, right, until one of his black colleagues leans over and says, Man, you gotta use your white voice.

Now this is in, this is in 2018. I think it's on Netflix. If you haven't seen it, watch it. It really is amazing to describe, uh, how code switching kind of seeps into your workplace, um, that environment. Have any of you guys seen it?

Dr. Myles Durkee: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. It's, I think it's, yeah, and I love how they show code switching, they do it at a very satirical or just go to show you how extreme code switching could be in certain situations.

Kandidly Kristin: Really it is. So I, now I wanna know code switching, uh, microaggressions, cultural invalidations, all of it kind of wrapped up. How do we unravel it? Cause I just like to talk how I like to. What, in whatever situation I'm in, regardless of the audience, just if I'm home chilling in mixed company, I don't want to have to check my speech.

If I'm out and I'm out with couple black friends, couple white friends, couple Asian friends, I just wanna be me. So the solution and the remedies, are they on us or on others? Or a little bit of both? What do you guys think? And anybody can answer.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: I would say a combination of both. Um, I think, uh, there, there does need to be the acknowledgement that some people really don't know. Um, you know,

Kandidly Kristin: you think they don't know.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: I said some. Some.

Kandidly Kristin: Okay. Okay. All right. ,

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: Ignorance comes in, right? Mm-hmm. don't know any better. And so I know going to a predominantly Caucasian school, you have kids who ask questions, um, and you realize, yeah, they probably see most of other white kids. What happens?

When you have the ability to learn and you choose not to, that's where it just becomes plain stupidity or arrogance. Mm-hmm. . And so, um, I think there is space to find. How, I don't know. But to find a healthy medium between being willing to, um, contribute to the conversation of, you know, just because we might speak differently or use the English language differently, it doesn't make us less educated.

It doesn't make us. Um, less capable. It doesn't make us less responsible. I think at the same time, there also needs to be a level of intentionality, um, on whatever side it is, and intentionality from white people, intentionality from also black people, right? Those who are in, uh, places of privilege who might feel that, okay, I speak a certain way and I might be a little bit better than those.

Perhaps don't speak the same way that I do, because that's also a contribution to the problem. Um, Okay. Yeah. If we're able to kind of find that healthy middle ground where yes, we are, there are some of us who are willing to have the conversation with those who do want to understand perhaps even in workplace training.

Mm-hmm. , you know, not only focusing solely on, you know, race, gender, just like the. Um, surface level parts of race and gender, but also bringing in names, bringing in language, bringing in use of English into the conversation, bringing in hair, um, and really having that conversation and promoting that idea that.

Um, just because my name is pronounced differently, you know, whether it's a Bob or a, you know, Devonte, it's still beautiful just the way it is. You know, you may not have been used to hearing that type of name, but that doesn't make my name less than. If I have an accent, if I use a certain type of language that's not recognized by, you know, the, the Oxford Dictionary, it doesn't make me less capable.

It doesn't make me less able. And so when we're able to develop and implement training like that and really bring white people in the room and having those conversations and also contributing to those trainings, because if you're able to pronounce, um, what is it Swarovski why can't you, pronou. You know, Jamil, right?

So bringing them in the room to also have these conversations so that training is implemented and people, you know, there's more of a cultural acceptance of, and that would take time, but there's a cultural acceptance of, you know, regardless of your use of language, regardless of your accent, regardless of how you show up, The important part is that you did, you're able to perform, you're able to be, you're able, and you're able to contribute

Kandidly Kristin: amen. I love that. David Myles, your comments on the solutions and remedies. Cause because code switching is exhausting. I'd like to, not to have to do it. So how do we move toward a space where it's not necessary? And I know that may be a long time coming.

David Frazier: I would like, I would like to, um, dive in if, if possible.

Kandidly Kristin: Please do.

David Frazier: Um, the way to unravel, and this is my opinion, is I think two words come into play. I think respect and love. I think if we respect each other's differences, it'll go a long way. I don't think. A lot of times people respect other people's languages, how they look, what their hair looks like, what they drive, where they live.

I think a lot of people judge 'em more so than respecting them. Right. I think when we come down to love, I think that we should love that we are different and we have to accept that we are different. Sometimes we. Uh, we want to be, uh, with the crowd if it makes sense, but we have to understand that we are different and getting other people to respect us.

Or respect our differences. We have to, um, one, we have to, um, understand we are different and they have to understand that they are different. I can't make someone accept me. All I can do is be me. And I think sometimes we all have done it. We all try to fit in so much instead of loving our differences and loving that we are different.

And the last one I wanna say is, um, learn about each other. Mm-hmm. , I think a lot of times we don't know about white people as much, and white people don't know as much as about black. I think that when we come together now all of a sudden here we are. We're trying to scramble to learn each other, and that's where we get the code switching a lot because now here we are at the table.

We didn't really care too much to learn you when we were away from you. Now we're here. Now we have to dive in and be who we are. Really not because when we were away from the whole situation and around our group of people, we kind. did what we do. And then when we go around them, all of a sudden out here, we are changing because we can't accept the fact of our differences and then it's hard to respect one another.

So that's just my opinion on it.

Kandidly Kristin: All right. Well thank you for that. I appreciate that. And Myles.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Yeah, no, I love that. David. I agree with all the advice that was shared by David and Dr. Juliette. Um, I think we need all of those strategies. Um, it's. So, Kristen, that's a, that's a hard question to answer because it's not a one size fits all solution.

Right. Um, so, so far we're finding that they're pretty much, we talk about black folks specifically. Mm-hmm. , there are generally four types of profiles of people that we find, um, in the data that we have so far. So the first is those who feel that they don't have to code switch because standard American English is their default way of speaking

okay. They are in these spaces. They feel like they can just talk the same way they always have because that is what their norm is. Mm-hmm. . So when someone tells them, Oh, you can stop code switching, now they tend to get stressed out. Cause they feel like, Wait a minute, I'm not code switching. So that they have to emphasize their blackness in a way.

Oh, like you said, reverse code switch, code switching right direction in order to have that inclusiveness within the community. Now the other camp of folks we find are those who are unapologetically black and they refuse to code switch. So even when they're in those environments where there's clear expectations and pressure that they code switch, they just not gonna do it.

Right? Yeah. Right. How to say, you gonna get what you gonna get . Right Now the other two camps of folks for us, um, are pretty interesting. So we have probably what might be even the largest group or those folks who do feel that pressure to code switch at work and switch their behavior. And they do code switch only in certain spaces.

All right? And this, this camp of folks, they're consciously aware when they're doing it. Like they notice that pressure, they notice those cues and they adapt accordingly. But that's the camp that we feel is gonna be the most fatigued, you know, experience the greatestamount of emotional exhaustion because they're consciously aware of how they're changing their self multiple times throughout the day.

Right? Fourth camp, They're somewhat like, we're still trying to understand this fourth camp now, these are the folks who've probably been code switching their entire life. They probably saw their parents doing it, and they've been modeling it for many years. So now because they've been doing it for so long, it's almost become automatic, like second nature, okay.

Where they're no longer, it's not as, they're not as consciously aware that they're even code switching because as soon as, that environmental cue gets introduced, their behavior just accordingly in real time, almost immediately. And they're. They're not all that aware of how much they're changing their behavior.

Right? So when we ask them about code switching, they report, uh, yeah, I'll barely, maybe I'll code switch sometimes. But when you just watch their behavior, you see their code switching nonstop. Got it. Society has taught them to do that so frequently it's now part of their personality because it is becoming like that second nature.

Um, so at this point we're trying to figure out of still how detrimental it is for that camp. We might be doing it automatically. Is it less detri detrimental than it is for the camp who's consciously aware that they're doing it is consciously aware of how pet it's right.

Kandidly Kristin: Huh. That's interesting. That was really, really interesting And, huh, Let me think on that for, I had to breathe on that.

The, the camp that doesn't even know that they're code switching, they just do it almost inherently as second nature is that,

A cultural identity crisis or issue? Or is it just learned behavior?

Dr. Myles Durkee: I would call it a learned behavior. Um, Okay. Simply for the, I mean, for that camp of people, they weren't born code switching. Right. But given their experiences in society, they've been socialized. to code switch and after prolonged period of time, that socialization has now evolved and just become a part of who they are.

So as they move across these spaces, it's hard to determine whether they're being authentic or not, because now it's just part of who they are. You're just getting a certain dimension of them, depending on what space you're meeting them in.

Kandidly Kristin: Got it. Got it, got it, got it.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: If I may add to that, I think please.

Um, I think the recent social events have made some aware of what they were not even conscious that they were doing. Um, Okay. I know myself, I code switch a lot and it's not just an English, you know, a vernacular thing. It's also switching between accents you know, having to avoid people asking me which island from the Caribbean I'm at, I'm from when I'm actually born in this country.

Um, but I think for a lot of people, you know, um, especially now that mental health is. Such a very, it's, it's a, it is a resounding theme these days. And you see all of the social events where, um, being black is constantly in every single way a target, no matter what you do. I think people are becoming more aware of the fact that, Wow, I'm actually having to adjust who I am before I walk into this meeting, before I walk into this workplace, before I get on.

And I do this video before, you know, in, in so many situations. I mean, think of, um, Getting pulled over by COP and it shakes you up. But guess what happens before you walk into that office, you take a deep breath and you're like, I'm gonna be okay. Right, Right. And you put on that fake smile. Good morning.

How are you? How is everyone ? So conscious, I think especially. Sense now you're like, Oh my goodness, that's what I've been doing all this time. And just the thought of that becomes exhausting. Mm-hmm. , And you realize how exhausted you were without. Even noticing it, right? The same way people were on this Go, go, go, go, go.

Before Covid happened. And now that they've been able to enjoy working from home and life is a little bit slower and they can spend more time with their families and on their on themselves, it's like, oh wait, you know, I've been just on autopilot all this time. Mm-hmm. . But there's this new life where I can be a little more comfortable.

And I think that's the same thing with code-switching. Where, you know, we are realizing how much we've just had to force ourselves to fit in, um, and how much, even then sometimes we're not even accepted and now noticing that we're like, Man, that is exhausting. Um, so yeah, I think it is learned behavior and now that some people are actually realizing, Oh my goodness, I'm doing it, they're also seeing how exhausting it is for them.

Dr. Myles Durkee: I'll just add and bring it to, I think the work from Home Context made it blatantly aware for a lot of folks too, because when they had a, you know, commute to work, it was easy to code switch when you're at work. But now if you're at home, you got your baby next to you there. Remote learning, you're the same tone of voice that you normally do. Worlds just collided all at one time in the same space. Um, it made it that much more, um, complicated. Yeah,

Kandidly Kristin: and I think, you know, the onus is on work spaces, spaces where we feel like we had to do it to make it less so we don't feel like that. Like if we come in speaking however we speak, as long as it's not vulgar, offensive, you know what I mean?

Then there should be, I'm still speaking English if I clip the end of my word, I know you still know I the word that I said, so I, I guess. I'm always thinking about solutions. I'm a solutions type girl, so I'm always wondering what employers and workspace, and university spaces and sports spaces can do to, to be more inclusive.

And that means in always. So this conversation goes a long way to, um, talking about it. You can't change everything, but you can't change anything unless it's, you know, you shine some light on it and people get to hear it. And I guess, like Juliette said, some people just don't really aren't aware how, uh, exhausting it is for us to have to do that all the time.

And even our own people aren't aware of how exhausting it is for us to feel like we have. Like I, I talk like I talk and it's not like you, but we family and I should be able to talk to you without you looking at me and going, Stop talking white. I mean, come on. You know what I mean? So I am at this point going to open the lines up for callers.

I blocked the troll so he won't be calling. Um, if anybody in the chat wants to call, ask a question, make a comment, share an experience, now's the time to do it.

Mm, okay. So I don't see anybody chomping at the bit to call in. In conclusion, I would like from each of my guests, and you guys can pick whoever goes first, your final thoughts on the subject of code switching. And I'd like for you to be speaking directly to the people that will hear this like a week or so from now when it goes out to the world.

You can talk to BIPOC people, you can talk to white people or anybody, and just gimme your final thought. And Juliette, your mic is open, so you might as well go first. Mm-hmm. .

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: Okay. Um, I would say to, um, I'll start with African. I, I will start with everyone BIPOC to start. Um, Okay. You're beautiful just as you are and in spite of what the world tells you, you are beautiful just as you are and you don't.

And I've heard this before, there's a difference between fitting in and belonging When you have to fit in that who you're to be a part belonging means that, um, you don't have to adjust who you are because who you are is acceptable. And, um, I think we should also be okay with. Um, the fact that an environment is not healthy for us if we have to fit in.

Um, and so I would say that to BIPOC individuals, um, And those who English is not their first language. I'll speak to my Afro Caribbeans, my, um, immigrants, my children of immigrants. Mm-hmm. who constantly have to switch between sitting in an English classroom and then coming home and having to speak a completely different language.

Again, your accent doesn't, your accent or your use of English or, um, your, your vernacular for that sense does not speak to your level of intelligence. You can have a bachelor's, a master's, a PhD certification, or none at all, and it doesn't make you less intelligent because of your accent or because of your word choice and so on and so forth.

I think from an organizational perspective, I, I would say that leaders, um, regardless of their backgrounds, especially those who have the privilege to make a difference, I would, um, You know, I would encourage them to be more open to hearing from their employees. Um, you know, employee resource groups are valuable, right?

Mm-hmm. , seeing what kind of data you can gather from employee resource groups, looking at how you can improve interviewing processes, job descriptions, so they're not requiring people to really adjust and abbreviate who they are when they have to step into the workplace. Um, and being very much intentional, you know, Um, I know

for us, you know, it's, it's, it's hundreds of years, right? It's generational, so we're exhausted. Yeah. But I think the reality is what's most important, I think it was David who mentioned it, is, is really the love and and humanity. Right. Um, And I think with those in places of privilege, no matter what your privilege is, um, being okay with the fact that you may not get it right the first time, but being genuine and intentional, you know, you just trying to change things so you can retain, you know, a brand loyalty and customer loyalty and revenue.

That's very short term. But when you're able to really say, I'm, I genuinely want to learn, you know, Grown up around people who speak one way or people whose names are a certain way and look a certain way. When you're really intentional about being willing to learn about what it's like to stand in someone else's shoes, I think that at least gives us, uh, the beginning steps in the right direction of, um, more cultural awareness and acceptance of how people show up without requiring them to, um, abbreviate themselves to fit in.

That's what I would say

Kandidly Kristin: thank you so much for that. And David, your final thoughts?

David Frazier: Yes. My final thought, if I could, uh, talk to the, to, basically to everyone out there. Um, I would just say, um, accept the way God made you. Um, I believe I'm a strong believer in God and I I know there are other people out there who believe in God, uh, just accept the way he made you.

Uh, we can't change where we come from. Uh, where we're from is where we're from, the way we talk it, the way we talk. Um, I also wanna say it is a part of our uniqueness. It's what's it is what make us unique. And sometime we try to change that uniqueness because we want to. . Um, we wanna conform to the masses.

We wanna conform to our environment where we're going, and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not. But again, we have to embrace what we, our, our differences, and that's how we learn about one another. And that's how we continually, uh, move forward in life. The more we try to fake things, um, it hinders us in making progress

um, because again, when the next generation come, they're doing the same exact thing because we're teaching them that, those things and they're coming after us. And again, they're learning from us. So if they see that we're embracing everything and we're we're accepting our differences, they will then move on to accept their differences.

Um, and, and that's what I wanna say in, in my closing.

Kandidly Kristin: Thank you so much, David and Myles, you are up.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Whew. Those are two tough acts to follow. . I know I was muted, but I was over here snapping the entire time. , thank you. Thank you David. Um, so once again, I agree with everything you all said. Um, I guess the only thing I would add in addition to the, um, those amazing comments is I guess I'll, I'll be real.

So to be honest, I can't picture a world where code switching doesn't exist. Um, cause I think it's such a part of human nature and who we are. But what I would like to see the world move towards is a state where code switching becomes more voluntary. Not seen as a source of survival. Um, and for certain groups already in our society that code switching is voluntary.

Kandidly Kristin: Right.

Dr. Myles Durkee: For groups who are in the dominant positions of privilege, when they code switch, it's because they choose to code switch.

Kandidly Kristin: Yeah.

Dr. Myles Durkee: But if they don't wanna code switch, they don't have to code switch and there's very little consequences.

Kandidly Kristin: Yeah.

Dr. Myles Durkee: So I would love to see us get to a point where groups from different backgrounds at different social statuses are treated more fairly, Where they can each have that privilege, decide when they wanna code switch

Kandidly Kristin: When they want to absolutely.

Dr. Myles Durkee: The other thing I'll add too is that, I think so much of our attention is on code switching in, I'll say professional settings. So yeah, you know, in the workplace, in the school place, and it makes sense because these are settings that have such a pivotal influence on our upward mobility and trajectory.

But I think we should also pay attention to code switching in, you know, more intimate spaces like with our family, with our friends, because these are also spaces where, you know, certain folks can feel excluded or teased or culturally invalidated.

Kandidly Kristin: Yeah,

Dr. Myles Durkee: they're not perceived as black enough or Latino enough, or Asian enough, or authentic enough.

So that also sets a standard for some folks to have to code switch just to maintain that sense of community with their own people who look just like them. So I think those are also spaces where we should, uh, Consider kind of the tone and the climate that we're setting and trying to also be, you know, that as a diaspora we are extremely diverse and there's not one type of blackness.

Kandidly Kristin: Yes, thank you, .

Dr. Myles Durkee: So just being more openminded to, you know, someone you know, comes from a different walk of life or didn't grow up in a black neighborhood or, you know, has a, you know, Creole or Haitian accent of, you know, being more, um, accepted and open and appreciative of all our different shades and types and hues and sounds of blackness

Kandidly Kristin: Amen. Let me give y'all all a hand clap on that. Yay

That was awesome. Thank all three of you. Now, this is the portion of the show where my guests get to give their contact information if they have a book, some event, anything you wanna share with my audience. It's also gonna be in the show notes, but this is your opportunity to put that out there. I know.

Dr. Juliette has a book, uh, David has a podcast, so this is your time to shamelessly self promote. And David, you can go first.

David Frazier: Yeah. So I am David. I have my own podcast called The FrazierChronicles. Um, I could be found on social media, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. One word, Fraser Chronicles. Um, I'm also on, um, all major podcasting platforms, iHeart Radio, Apples podcasts, Spotify, just to name a few.

Um, I could be found there as well. I also have a YouTube channel where I do my live presentation. Uh, and again, Fraser Chronicles just one word, and it will pop up and you can follow me there.

Kandidly Kristin: There you go. Thank you David and Dr. Juliette. Oh Lord, I didn't lost her again. All right, Myles, I'm gonna go to you so you can shamelessly self promo you in whatever you're you're doing.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: Can you hear me?

Kandidly Kristin: I can. There you go. I don't know why that happens.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: I'm so sorry, Dr. Myles. Go ahead.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Oh no. I'll just say, uh, feel free as we publish new research and data on code switching, um, I try to publicize it on Twitter. So my handle is Dr. Durkee, that's d r d u r k e e

Kandidly Kristin: and Dr. Juliette.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: Yeah, so you can visit my website@Juliettenurinelson.com.

Um, I'm sure you'll put the website in the,

Kandidly Kristin: in the show notes. Yes ma'am.

Dr. Juliettete Nelson: So I dont have to spell it out. But yes, you can also find me on Instagram and Facebook. Juliette Nuri Nelson. I'm also on LinkedIn. Um, please. Um, Mention this podcast, um, so that I don't think you're a spammer or a marketer . Um, if you add me on LinkedIn.

Um, but you can also find my book "Sharing lens, the college experience." You can also see the different projects that I'm working on. Juri Nuri Lens, which is my wooden eyewear collection, um, and Waza, which is a Haitian Creole language learning management system that I'm actually working on. So, um, visit my website and you can see everything

Kandidly Kristin: yes, Yes, yes and yes. Girl. Them glasses are very, very nice. Very nice. Dr. Juliette, Dr. Myles, David, I wanna just thank you for your time, your observations, your opinions, your experiences, and for sharing them with me and my listeners. I, um, I appreciate you all so much for joining me. We had a conversation about this podcast in April or May, and then I went on hiatus cause I was burnt out.

So I am so, so glad that you were all able to be here with me and to have this really important conversation with me. So thank you, Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Dr. Myles Durkee: Thank you, Kristen, for the invitation.

Kandidly Kristin: Oh, you're welcome. Now, this is for my listeners. I want all of you to make sure you look for the podcast, uh, episode posting, which will be in about a week.

I have to edit it and do all kinds of other stuff to make it sound amazing. And all of my guest contact info, their websites, um, podcast info will be in the show notes. Make sure you head over to my website, www.theKandidshop.com. That's Kandid with a "k"! And check out some past episodes. Rate the show, review the show, drop me a comment, whatever.

Just check it out. I really appreciate it. It helps to get my numbers up and I will be back. Two weeks approximately with another Kandid discussion on domestic violence or the new term is intimate partner violence. And I'm gonna have a few very special guests on to have that very, very important conversation.

So thank you all again. Thanks for joining me. And like I say at the end of every episode, I want you all to keep it. Keep it healthy and keep it Kandid

Outro: it's called code switching and I'm a master of the dial, I got a different me for every situation, no matter. Black, white, older, young, I can tune into your tongue and nobody can tell which ones to real me.

David FrazierProfile Photo

David Frazier


Born in Anchorage Alaska, I have served in the US Army for the last 5 1/2 years. I am currently the face of Frazierchronicles podcast. I have been podcasting for the last 4 years, and really enjoying it.

Myles Durkee, PhDProfile Photo

Myles Durkee, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Myles Durkee is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. His research examines racial code-switching, cultural invalidations, and identity threats perpetrated by in-group and out-group members to determine how these experiences are uniquely associated with important psychosocial outcomes (e.g., mental health, identity development, & academic achievement). He also examines the process of identity development during late adolescence and emerging adulthood to determine how social identities are influenced by interpersonal relationships (e.g., peer & family dynamics) and environmental factors (e.g., school contexts & racial climate). Dr. Durkee received a BA in psychology from Pomona College and a PhD in educational psychology: applied developmental science from the University of Virginia. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago, and a second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Juliette NelsonProfile Photo

Juliette Nelson

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, Entrepreneur, Educator, and Published Author

Dr. Juliette Nelson is an industrial & organizational psychology practitioner, educator, entrepreneur, and published author who is passionate about empowering people to achieve the highest standards of their purpose. With a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, she leverages research and data to identify and implement solutions that foster a safe workplace for individuals working at all levels of their organizations. 

She is the Founder and CEO of JUNURI, a company that equips students, professionals, and business owners, with the tools and resources to be successful in the different areas of their lives. Her publishing company, JUNURI Publishing, supports and empowers writers to share their voices and lens. In her book, Sharing My Lens: The College Experience, she shares some of the gems that prove to be valuable in achieving an engaging academic experience throughout college. 

Juliette is also the CEO of NURILENS, a handcrafted wooden eyewear collection that seeks to combine style, performance, and sustainability by creating an experience that encourages self-expression, impact, and improved eye health. 

Given her experiences, she is intentional about being an agent of motivation, inspiration, and encouragement to the world around her.