I’m not articulate, I’m clear

2 min readMay 3, 2021

I do always find it fascinating when I’m met with comments such as ‘you’re really articulate’ in response to something I’ve just said.

There is a Southern American ‘bless your heart’ meets Daenerys Targaryen’s smile — which I take to mean ‘you’re a fool’ — that rises in me.

I don’t think those who pass judgement (because thats what it is) on my vernacular and ability to communicate, comprehend their participation in the foolishness of limited expectations.

The roots of which were grown in racism, eugenics and intentional dehumanisation and suppression.

However, as this is a topic I always find to be interesting, I thought I’d lay out how to think about the ‘articulate’ trope from a range of different angles that White Supremacy wouldn’t have you consider.

Consider firstly, the fact through enslavement and colonisation, we were only meant to learn enough of the language to understand commands, not to express ourselves.

Consider then that the understanding of nuance and intonation are often used as markers of fluency in language. Then the ways that we’ve had to be very attuned to hearing threat and danger in responses to points made in conversations that should not illicit such a reaction.

Consider that we could (and perhaps should) be counted as linguists, as we constantly navigate this experience in our formal education as well as informal (but no less impacting) life lessons.

Consider that Black languages (African, the Caribbean, Aboriginal and Latin American) have words, phrases and meanings that don’t have direct translations in English, but intra-comprehension exists across our ‘seemingly disconnected’ identities and diaspora

In her brilliant post, ‘On Intelligence’ — which speaks to the same point from a different perspective (and which reminded me that I had yet to post out my views on this(!)), Angela Brown points out:

I mean, come on, I didn’t go to school, college (English Lit and Philosophy anyone?) and then University to study English Literature for nought. I should expect to come out of that able to speak reasonably competently in my field and well beyond it.

So then consider that we have qUaLiFiCaTiOnS in subjects that require conversant knowledge in both domain specific and generalist circumstances.

So finally, consider then that I’m very precise and particular with my words — So if I want to give you helpful crumbs to get you to a point, that’s intentional. In the same way, If I choose to drop the whole carcass on you to carve up… also intentional.




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