“What had happened was” is a phrase commonly used in Black American Vernacular English (BAVE) to start a story or provide context for a situation that has already occurred. It is often used to provide a humorous or lighthearted tone to a story. While the phrase itself may seem trivial, it has a deeper cultural significance within the Black community.
History and cultural significance
The phrase has roots in Southern Black culture is used to provide context and background to a story or situation. It is a way for Black people to share their experiences and connect with each other through storytelling. The phrase has also been popularized in popular media, particularly in Black comedy and hip-hop music.
How it impacts the Black community
The use of this phrase within the Black community is a way to connect with each other and share experiences. It can be a source of humor and levity in the face of difficult situations. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of storytelling and the preservation of Black culture.
How it impacts the white community
For non-Black people, the phrase can be seen as a window into Black culture and a way to better understand the experiences and perspectives of Black people. However, it is important to recognize that the use of this phrase should not be used as a way to exoticize or other Black people.
Why some people are concerned about it
Some people may be concerned about the use of this phrase because it has been caricatured and stereotyped in popular media as a way to portray Black people as uneducated or unintelligent. This perpetuates harmful stereotypes and contributes to the marginalization of Black people.
How it influences culture
The use of this phrase in popular media has contributed to its cultural significance and its place within Black culture. It has also been incorporated into other forms of media, such as television shows and movies.
Why it is important
The phrase “What had happened was” is important because it serves as a reminder of the resilience and creativity of Black people in the face of adversity. It also serves as a way to connect with each other and share experiences within the Black community. Furthermore, the phrase highlights the importance of storytelling and the preservation of Black culture.
How to be an ally
As an ally, it is important to recognize the cultural significance of this phrase and the context in which it is used. It is also important to avoid appropriating or stereotyping Black culture, and instead seek to understand and appreciate it. Additionally, allies should actively work to challenge and dismantle harmful stereotypes and systems of oppression that impact Black people.
- “The Significance of “What Had Happened Was…” in Black Culture.” HuffPost, 17 Aug. 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-had-happened-was-black-culture_l_6119f37de4b06c5bc1b35f58.
- “The Enduring Popularity of ‘What Had Happened Was’.” The Atlantic, 8 Sept. 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/09/the-enduring-popularity-of-what-had-happened-was/379600/.