What a white person says: You are very articulate.
What a black person hears: You don’t sound like a black person.
I thought about this while sitting in on an interview earlier today. We didn’t have a tool for ranking the candidates, so I was just jotting down a few notes. As I reflect back, I noticed how I’d left out the word “articulate.” After all, the candidate fully demonstrated the ability to speak fluently and coherently. Yet, it never crossed my mind actually use the “A” word.
Could it be the candidate was white and there is an expectation a white man would be articulate? So, there is no reason to write the “a word.” That would be like me writing…the candidate is breathing. It’s a given; he’s there and speaking, so we should assume he’s breathing. I think had he been inarticulate, I definitely would have written that.
Eureka…we key in on things that are exceptional and different.
Trust me, referring to black people as articulate is fairly common. So common, white people tell us directly that we are articulate. As if, we should be proud.
Yes, I’ve been called worse; but, I take a slight offense because what you are saying is that you didn’t expect for me to be well-spoken. Why? If you knew anything about me, you should be shocked if I weren’t articulate.