Twitter - @usanegro


Associate well spoken with something that makes sense

I am not a racist. I don't believe a particular race is superior. I am not a bigot. I don't hold prejudice against racial or religious groups. I am associative. I associate people with things. Tall Short People of Asian descent...Asia. I admit it. I do it. I think others do it. And I don't mind when they do. Except when the association is "speaking well" and White. Or Gay. Then I mind.

These associations seem ridiculous. Yet, I have come face-to-face with both. From the same man. This man, whom I associate with one of the twelve tribes of Egypt, first asked if I was mixed, then asked if I was gay. Upon receiving two no's, he exclaimed, "but you speak so well."

"Speaking well" or being well-spoken - according to - is having a clear, articulate and socially acceptable accent and way of speaking. There is nothing racial or sexual about this definition. But for some reason my way of speaking made this man believe that I have a White parent or that I romantically love men.

I can kind of see the White part. Dr. John Baugh, the researcher who coined the term "linguistic profiling," said in the PBS special Do You Speak American, "It is often assumed by Blacks as well as Whites that African-Americans speak bad or lazy English." If my guy holds this same assumption, then my good and active English must have meant a heavy White influence.

Dr. Baugh went on to say, "Black English has roots as deep and a grammar as consistent as Scottish, Irish or any of the other Englishes spoken around the world." I associate this statement with the opening number of the musical My Fair Lady. Professor Higgins sings, "Oh, why can't the English learn to set a good example to people whose English is painful to your ears? The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears. There are places where English completely disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years." It would seem bad English is a nondiscriminatory equal opportunity practice.

I don't get the gay association at all. I don't even know how to begin to connect those dots. I chalk that association up to the unfortunate fact that we live in a society where anything and everything can be labeled gay. I'm sure someone will associate me with gay for referencing a musical in the previous paragraph. The association between well-spoken and gay is ignorant. And I'm willing to bet that there are thousands of homosexual men and women nationwide brutalizing English.

I am an American and I embrace English because it is the language of my home. I practice pronunciation and articulation because verbal communication is a large part of my daily life. I have found that life is more enjoyable when I'm understood. And I believe the same is true for everyone. Life is better when you are understood.

So, associate on, good people. It's natural. Just do me a solid and associate well-spoken with things that make sense like reading, dictionaries or Pappy the Cat. Just not race or orientation.