Skip to main content

Does Articulate = Intelligent?

    For some reason, being called articulate in the black community has become synonymous with being called idiotic.  Black people have often gotten offended when someone white says "He speaks so well" or "She's very articulate".  Remember the hubbub when it was said about President Obama the first time he ran for office?  Such an observation has been frowned upon because of the way it's been said in the past.  It sounds to black folks like the person saying it is surprised that a black person can put two sentences together and actually make sense.  For black people (who care), speaking well should not be treated as if it's a phenomenon in the African American culture.
     With that said, let's look a little bit deeper at this idea of being articulate when communicating.  The moment a person opens his or her mouth, a dozen assumptions are made about them by the way they speak. Some of them are right on target, and of course, some of them are totally off base.  For example, to hear a person be able to articulate his vision for his future or a plan to start a business or the reason why he feels passionate about his religious beliefs may cause the listener to think this person is a critical thinker.  He is decisive.  He is educated.  He is wise.  He is confident, and a whole host of other positive assumptions.  Regardless of his race, many would surmise he's a guy worth engaging.  Now take a young white man from a rural county in a rural state in the deep south.  Throw in a southern twang as part of his dialect, a few mispronounced and misused words, and an inability to clearly communicate how he's going to start a trucking business, and we immediately assume he's uneducated, lacks intelligence, and is merely sucking up oxygen someone else could be using.  More than likely, he wouldn't get much of our time.  Is that racist?
     The way I see it, acknowledging that someone's articulate has less to do with insulting someone's race than it does insulting someone's intelligence.  We automatically assume that a well-spoken person is educated, smart, and worth our time.  We're more likely to listen to them than we are to someone who is rambling, using slang, and limited in their vocabulary.  Without addressing the reality that people who are articulate can present themselves quite well to others but can be so full of bull that they stink.  Or people who are simplistic in their communications, who don't use a lot of big ol' fancy words, whose style is not to be pedantic and haughty can be successful leaders.  Those truths aside, think about how you view people who are well-spoken and good communicators.  Then think of those whom you've encountered that weren't.  What assumptions did you make?  And how valid were your assumptions?

Popular posts from this blog

He Said, She Said

It seems like everywhere we turn today in the news, there are accusations being made between men and women.  Those accusations are of a serious nature and are costing people on both sides in life-altering ways.  Sexual misconduct and abuse, physical abuse, and gender bias are among the many claims being made mostly by women against men.  These men are usually in positions of power.  Therefore, they are in a prime position to commit the crimes and bad behavior they are accused of without a lot of resistance initially from their victims.
     But something has happened lately.  What was once too shameful to speak about out loud is now front and center for all the world to see.  What was perpetrated behind closed doors has now been shoved out in the open by a chorus of voices saying it happened to #MeToo.  One of the difficult angles in these revelations is how the rest of us receives these stories.  Many people without hesitation take sides with the women who are accusing the men.…

Taming the Tongue

I was studying the Bible today because part of my life is spent as a Bible student and Sunday School teacher.  I enjoy reading it because of the many life lessons it holds.  Today's scripture has everything to do with communications.  And since this is a communications blog, I will refer to the verses I read in it just like I would in any book where I find something worth repeating.  In the book of James, chapter three, James is talking about talking--specifically cursing, lying, gossiping, boasting, and a bunch of other things we say that we shouldn't.  These behaviors are born out of one small part of our bodies that we all lose control of along with our brains at varying points in our lives.  But when we lose control, we amass large amounts of grief for ourselves and others.

     Beginning at verse three, he describes this failure of ours.  "When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. …

Words That Heal (Especially After That Big Loss Last Night)

If you stayed up late last night to experience the end of the big College National Championship game, you saw a nail biter and a fantastic finish.  For those of us who didn't have a team in the fight, it was pure entertainment.  But for the Georgia students who fought in that battle and lost, it was a bitter pill to swallow.  They likely woke up this morning feeling like they were having a hangover.        Any sports fanatic will tell you that a loss to the team is also a loss for them personally.  They feel similar (not necessarily the same) pain as the players even though they haven't stepped a foot out, in or on the field, court, track or pool.  It stings pretty badly.  Even though Alabama won this time, they know all too well what it feels like since they experienced the same defeat last year against Clemson.      So how do you get  past the pain?  What can you say to assuage those melancholy feelings that stick around for the next few days and even months?  These qu…