Look: Here’s The Proud and Ignorant Reason #CoatSwitching Was All Over Your TL

Winter clothes on a hanger in the closet.

Look: Here’s The Proud and Ignorant Reason #CoatSwitching Was All Over Your TL

Peter Howell literally had no idea what he started, but at least it made for good laughs.

Published October 28, 2016

Most Black people in the country have grown up understanding the concept of code-switching. For some of us, it's that moment when you go from hanging out with your family at the barbecue to being the only Black person at your school. 

Formally, code-switching is defined as the process of alternating between two languages in a given time. But socially, we know it as going between different versions of your personality based on who’s around.

However, for some people, that concept doesn’t exist because they’ve never had to experience it. Take Toronto based film critic Peter Howell. On Thursday, he published a piece in the Toronto Star about Barry Jenkins and his new film Moonlight.

In the article, Howell decided to bring forth a new concept to his Canadian readership. However, he got it very, very wrong. When he wrote about how Black people find themselves “deliberately shifting cultural traits and vernacular to suit different circumstances,” he used the word “coat-switching.”

Yes you read that right. Coat-switching. 

When the article was first published, it was clear no one at the Star was familiar enough with the term to give Powell a heads up about his blunder. And soon enough, Black people on Twitter took the #coatswitching mistake and made it a hilarious trend. 

The article has since been edited to include the proper code-switching terminology. People everywhere should take this as a lesson: never underestimate the power of Black Twitter. 

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Ivan Sizov/Getty Images)


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