South Florida teen Savanna Tomlinson created a Twitter firestorm when she shared a snapshot of her high school yearbook portrait with followers on on Tuesday.
Tweeting “Going out with a bang,” the 17-year-old high school grad posted her senior quote, which reads:
The quote has gone viral, racking up over 58,000 retweets as of Friday. Many black Twitter users have co-signed the idea that code-switching is, unfortunately, a fact of life for a majority of black folk.
Tomlinson told HuffPost that she got the idea for the quote a few months ago after comedian Jaboukie Young-White tweeted about how he received a free plane ticket by sounding “white” on the phone. She found his comment “funny, yet relevant” and was inspired to use it as the basis for her senior quote.
“In my opinion, sounding ‘Caucasian’ doesn’t necessarily mean your diction, it could just be a simple change of your tone and voice pitch,” Tomlinson says.
“I personally code-switch all the time. Most of the time it is unintentional but there is always a thought in the back of my head to leave a good impression and by code-switching that is how I achieve that.”
But it’s the internet, so of course Tomlinson has her detractors, including some users who’ve suggested that the quote is “fueling a divide:”
Tomlinson isn’t fazed by the criticism.
“I feel that anyone who finds the quote to be racially divisive is entitled to their opinion just as I am entitled to mine,” she says. “But I believe that they do not realize or accept the unfortunate truths of life for minorities in America.”
Tomlinson is working on getting an associates and masters degree all before age 23. She says she's interested in pursuing a career in writing, public speaking and modeling. And the teen isn’t wasting her 15 minutes of internet fame ― she has jokingly urged her new followers to help her get Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ scholarship.