“Articulate” As a Compliment? We Need to Talk

In the weeks leading up to and during the historic confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, the first Black female justice was repeatedly recognized by a number of senators for being so “articulate” while being questioned. The “compliment” resonated at the same frequency as fingernails screeching across a chalkboard for many listeners.

Littler Principal Cindy-Ann Thomas and her special guest, Professor Inte’a DeShields:

  • Unpack the cultural context of the word “articulate”
  • Discuss why the word is viewed as a linguistic aggression for Blacks and African-Americans
  • Consider the word’s relationship to “code-switching” and “racial bilingualism”
  • Provide a framework for analyzing the appropriateness of the word’s use and more suitable alternatives
  • Examine different strategies for responding to the “compliment” – particularly in workplace scenarios where there is an interest in preserving the relationship

This podcast offers an in-depth discussion about how and why such a seemingly straightforward word has such a bruising impact for so many.

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Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.