Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The "Well-spoken" Black Man

No, not Barack Obama.  The young man pictured above is Russell Wilson, who has been touted as the best thing to happen to Wisconsin football since Donna Shalala hired Pat Richter, who then hired Barry Alvarez.  But, of course, “officially”, he’ll have to “compete” for the quarterback job this fall.

Apparently, Wilson “sounds white”, if you’ll temporarily excuse my racist reference, which I’ll explain in a moment, because this past Sunday evening on one of the local TV channels some dweeb referred to Wilson as a “well-spoken” athlete.  I’ve never heard Wilson speak, so I’ll have to take the local TV dweeb’s word for it.  And, in case you didn’t know it, “well-spoken” is code for “sounds white.”

A few minutes after the local TV dweeb made the stupid and racist comment, my Facebook and Twitter accounts went into high gear with comments from my black friends about this stupid and racist reference to Wilson.  One pointed out that Wilson is about to become the first black starting quarterback in UW history, and he didn’t recall the local TV dweebs referring to any of the other (white) quarterbacks as “well-spoken”.

Many of the social media comments decried the mindset of a white person who says a black person is “well-spoken”.   Sort of like “gee, how unusual… Wilson talks like a white guy.”

So let’s get down and dirty.  Does Lester Holt of NBC News sound like a white guy?  Does Reverend Martin Luther King sound like a black guy?  Does actor Denzel Washington sound like a white guy or a black guy?  Does Juan Williams, late of NPR and now of Fox News, sound like a white guy or a black guy? Does General Colin Powell sound black or white?   How about Jesse Jackson, Clarence Thompson, or Marc Morial….black or white?

See how stupid this is?  Every one of the men mentioned in the paragraph above is a highly competent professional, each of whom have distinguished themselves in their chosen profession.

How about Barbara Young, Paula Giddings, Bev Smith, or Mary Wilson?  Do they sound like black women or white women? Do Maya Angelou’s stories and poems sound black or white?  Do Marilyn McCoo and Mary Wilson sound alike when they sing?  Does Ella Fitzgerald sound black?  Or Billie Holiday? Or Lena Horne?

How sad it is that here in the eleventh year of the 21st century, a TV dweeb finds it necessary to say something about it when a black person speaks with coherent grammar and syntax.

5 comments:

  1. Didn't Wilson transfer from a school in the South? I haven't paid close attention, so I don't remember what school it was. The reporter may have expected him to speak with a pronounced drawl. Still, it is a stupid comment. Does anyone describe Nick Toon as "well spoken"? We expect him to speak like an average Wisconsinite, but is that because of his local connections, or because his mother is white? I wonder if reporters described Al Toon as "well spoken" 30 years ago when he came to Wisconsin from Virginia. It would be an interesting bit of research.

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  2. Just so we're clear, Wilson won't be close to the first black starting quarterback. I know of at least a couple others: Tony Lowery, who started early in the Alvarez era, and Otis Flowers, who had great promise during the Morton era.

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