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Senior Thesis—SAAVE

brand, campaign & mobile app; ui/ux, research, conceptualization

African American Vernacular English is a dialect that was created by enslaved Africans and has been cultivated and developed by the black community since then. Today, it’s commonly branded as “gen z slang”, “twitter talk” and other incorrect terms. This project is about starting a conversation and promoting the gatekeeping of this dialect and keeping it only within the black community.

Kristin wanted to start a conversation about why non-black people have taken certain words or phrases and why they think it’s okay to use. She created originally created a booklet outlining ways to gatekeep AAVE. She has now taken the project a step further and turned it into a brand/campaign and a small app.


Concept statement

Kristin jumped right into creating concepts and concept statements. She created two main ones that she both really enjoyed but she was leaning more towards the one about AAVE. After some critique, she decided to go with the concept about AAVE. She didn’t initially know what she wanted to create as an end result so she went into research unsure of what would be the best result.


She wanted to go deep into her research but to keep herself grounded she came up with a couple key questions that directly related to her concept. One of the first things she did was create a survey that was sent to her black friends and their black friends. The survey asked questions about what it’s like to be an AAVE speaker and their opinion about gatekeeping it. After receiving these answers she sorted through them and found commonalities between the answers that confirm her first impressions. She continued to delve deeper and with the help of her classmates she was able to come up with more questions to consider. She truly enjoyed the research phase because she was able to learn more about the way she speaks so that she can share it with others.

Brainstorming & Making

After doing extensive research, she was able to come up with a couple solutions to the question at hand. She initially decided to create a guide on how to gatekeep, a dictionary of AAVE words and a sound experience. Before she started sketching she came up with 3 visual directions and decided to go with the one she felt embodied the usage of AAVE.

She successfully created a print guide and a guide to post on instagram. The live editable dictionary is still in the works but she was able to record non-black people speaking AAVE improperly to use as a sound experience.

Initial Final Result