Anyone who has heard Chris Rock's "speaking well" joke, or read Racialiscious' "Barack Obama is AWB: Articulate While Black" blog understands there are racial politics that shadow over compliments of articulacy.
Poet and activist Jamila Lyiscott fleshes out the implications of such a compliment in her "3 Ways To Speak English" Ted Talk.
"I have decided to treat all three of my languages as equal, because I am articulate."
Her voice ranges through accents, cantonations, slang and academic verbose to demonstrate the three ways she speaks English at school, at home, and with friends.
"Sometimes I hold back two tongues while I use one in the classroom, and then when I mix them up I feel crazy like I'm cooking in the bathroom."
Lyiscott is careful to prove she is articulate not because she has mastered the most dominant strain of the English language, but because she has mastered many of them -- a "trilingual orator" fluent in peoples' histories.
"The reason I speak a composite version of your language is because mine was raped away along with my history... I know I had to borrow your language because mines was stolen but you cant expect me to speak your history wholy when mine is broken."
This Ted Talk was filmed in February, but it will never get old.
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