Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I'm having trouble commenting on blogs lately. Not sure if it's a technological issue on my end or a software issue on Blogger's, but it's a problem. Especially today when I read a particularly enlightening post on my pal West's blog and want to talk about it. So here I am.

West says, "A number of Black Americans are offended by a non-Black person referring to any Black person as 'articulate.' According to many, it is an example of those back-handed compliments to which Chris Rock so humorously, but indelicately refers: '[Saying an educated man] speaks so well isn't a compliment. "Speaks so well" is some $#!+ you say about a retarded person... that can TALK!'

"So, many Blacks see it as an insult and many whites see it as a compliment. Tony Cox, of NPR's 'African-American RoundTable,' (read or listen here) refers to this difference of interpretation as 'a cultural and linguistic divide.' He compares it to the statement from times past, 'You're a credit to your race.'"

West is an intelligent and thoughtful person (compared to anyone) and he doesn't take offense at the statement in general, but I think back on the times that I've paid that "compliment" -- even in my head; unspoken -- and if I'm honest, I have to admit that the parenthetical follow up to "He's articulate" is "for a Black guy." Yes, I've known a lot of African Americans who aren't articulate or "well-spoken," but why does that make it so worthy of notice when I meet one who is? I know a lot of White folks who don't speak well either, but I'm not as surprised when I meet one who does. It's a subtle form of racism, but it's there and I appreciate West's post for pointing it out so that I can be aware of it and work on eliminating it.

Just another reason why his blog is so worth reading.


West said...

I appreciate the nod, as well as your very candid thoughts on the subject.

West said...

By the way, if you (or anyone) ever has trouble commenting on my blog, feel free to post your thoughts in the chatbox. I'll probably transfer them over, myself.

(Just don't forget to tell me which post you're responding to.)

This kinda thing is why I waited so long to switch over to the new Blogger system. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

I think that's a solid gesture for you to acknowledge that you may have been unawares, bruh. I do think that as Black people we are quick to take offense at some syntax on a word or phrase. Sort of playing into that victim hype that so many Black folks get down with. I appreciate you standin' tall. Be easy, bruh.

Michael May said...

Thanks to both you guys. After I posted that I agonized a little over whether or not I should've admitted it, so I really appreciate the support. Means a lot.


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