March 28, 2023- The young man was quick on his feet, pointing out that I had used a complimentary adjective, in reference to a woman of colour- only minutes after another member of the group had cautioned against combining references to mental prowess with a subject’s ethnicity or gender. Point taken-and I simultaneously wonder if pinpoint concern over the fine points of speech may not have the unintended consequence of turning people away from the mental process of refining one’s thought.
Thought refinement has to precede the elevation of speech. I can readily see how “She was a feisty, articulate young Black woman” must sound to a person who shares those qualities-or to anyone who is sensitive to such cloying language. I remember wincing, years ago, when a colleague reported that someone had “complimented” her for being an “educated Indian”. The person who used those words may, or may not, have entertained a condescending view of First Nations people, but the effect was obvious.
Truth be known, I was, and still am, in awe of the woman to whom I referred. I hope she has only become more articulate, and retained her fire, over the years-and that these have helped her realize her goals. The world needs, if anything, more people who are resolute and who won’t “mind their place”, when it comes to seeking justice. In that regard, I hope the young man at tonight’s meeting likewise keeps prodding the rest of us to stop and elevate our thoughts, so that the resultant speech is of the highest order.
Correct must come to truly mean right.
I think there is a vast difference between “a feisty, articulate, young ~ ~ woman,” and an “educated ~ ~ ” — the difference between inherent attributes and those one works hard to achieve!. On the other hand, I do see the combination as possibly being somewhat denigrating to one group as opposed to another, possibly even exacerbated by the combinations being used.
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The man’s point was that he thought I was making it sound like being an articulate Black person was something unusual. Then, I recalled an album by Aretha Franklin, entitled “Young, Gifted and Black”.
A very difficult thing to make sure that speech is without unconscious microaggressions! Sometimes it requires a comment outside our own inner dialogue!
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That is another way of saying “Elevate one’s thought”.