Code Switching vs. Soul Switching

Code Switching vs. Soul Switching

The act of changing your language, tone and mannerisms in the way you express yourself in conversations or relationships is known as code switching. Code switching is often used by leaders of color to “fit in” in order to make others feel comfortable and not be viewed as intimidating or aggressive. Code switching is a way to have your voice heard and is sometimes necessary to make change.

The act of changing your values, convictions and beliefs and forsaking your history and heritage in the way you express yourself in relationships and the way you live your life is soul switching. Soul Switching is a fine line leaders of color must walk. When you lose yourself and your soul in order to have your voice heard and make change you may at the same time do more damage to yourself, your community and your sprit.

Follow the Soul of your convictions and shine as a leader. You may not always agree with others, but make sure you can make change and at the end of the day come home to your community. You have succeeded when your elders and youth from heaven and earth say job well done my good and faithful servant.



7 thoughts on “Code Switching vs. Soul Switching

  1. Great post for planting your blogging flag and highly informative for this white, middle aged guy. As an entrepreneur seeking to establish universal economic security through adult literacy, I wonder how code switching if not soul switching applies to the immigrant factory worker seeking to fit in “with the boys” who have been on the job for decades?


  2. Love this! One of the things I tell kids often – codeswitching is about using whatever language can be understood in the environment your in. Who you are and what’s important shouldn’t change. Thank you for this!


  3. Years ago, “Code Switching” used to by the “Bicultural Continuum” many of us must learn to navigate if you are not a White, heterosexual male. This includes women, GLBTQ, and Transgender. The only serious mistake one can make as we navigate through this bicultural continuum is to actually believe you ARE a White, heterosexual male. This is NEVER possible. I love the “Soul Switching” value process you present. This is what keeps us grounded and proud of who we are. I loved learning the skills necessary to survive and succeed in a world dominated by White, heterosexual males. However, I thank my family and my communities to always keep me grounded in my language, my culture, and most of my traditions. Consider the analogy of “leaving your neighborhood.” Leaving your neighborhood does not mean abandoning your ‘hood UNLESS you forget to keep going back to your roots and looking for ways to offer a hand up. Soul Switching is dangerous. Do not think that because there are less White, heterosexual males in charge, it means that their code book was not adopted and continues to be used. As the Who (yes, I’m a child of the 70s!) used to sing – “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss!” Don’t get fooled again. Thanks, James Burroughs, for keeping me thinking. Keep blogging!!!!


  4. Great write James! I still struggle with this code switching idea and sadly I have seen a lot of soul switchers especially in our very white Minnesota.In my view, Code Switching seems to affirm the status quo that there is something inherently wrong with being who we are, and we therefore have to switch. And I really struggle to see how we could ever create systems and spaces that are truly inclusive of ALL of us if we are going to have to learn how to switch in order to be successful. Then, would this really be real success? And if we can’t be ourselves, how will ‘they’ ever learn who we are and how will these spaces ever come to be? As an immigrant, I have always shown up as who I am, because it is just impossible to hide all my Africanness – Name, Accent and all.


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