I wish someone would insult me like that more often.

February 5th, 2007

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thinks a black person being called “articulate” is nothing but a veiled insult.

He says:

I realize the word is intended as a compliment, viagra stuff but it’s being used to connote a lot more than the ability to express one’s thoughts clearly. It’s being used to say more, viagra generic viagra even, than “here’s a black person who speaks standard English without a trace of Ebonics.”

The word articulate is being used to encompass not just speech but a whole range of cultural cues — dress, bearing, education, golf handicap. It’s being used to describe a black person around whom white people can be comfortable, a black person who not only speaks white America’s language but is fluent in its body language as well.

And the word is often pronounced with an air of surprise, as if it’s an improbable and wondrous thing that a black person has somehow cracked the code.

So…good grammar and proper pronounciation is just a “white culture” thing?

Learning to speak correctly means you’re not authentically black?

Maybe Mr. Robinson should axe himself if that really be what he trying to say.

Entry Filed under: Media

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. J  |  February 7th, 2007 at 10:31 am

    You completely missed the point. People who make the “so articulate” comment are implying and/or assuming that good grammar is solely the domain of white culture and that is why the object of this comment is often offended. Get it? You just agreed with Robinson.

  • 2. Administrator  |  February 7th, 2007 at 11:06 am

    It wouldn’t be the first time I had missed a point.

    Language is slippery and I have often been tripped up by it.

    That said, my reaction was mostly triggered by the end of Robinson’s article which I have not previously quoted:

    “Articulate is really a shorthand way of describing a black person who isn’t too black — or, rather, who comports with white America’s notion of how a black person should come across.”

    It still sounds to me like Robinson is endorsing the evil assumption that articulateness (and the education that leads to it) is part of white culture and not authentically black.

    I completely agree that no one should assume that a black man is going to act and speak like a gangster. Just as people shouldn’t assume that a white man from the south is a racist cracker.

    However, I think it is dangerous for members of both races to assume that speaking well is a “white” thing.

    I believe attitudes like that have greatly contributed to the disdain for education which seems to be pervasive in our inner cities.

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Being in a wheelchair gives you a unique perspective on the world. This blog features many of my views on politics, art, science, and entertainment. My name is Elliot Stearns. More...

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