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Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Does Black "Sound" Like?.......Just Ask the Authors of Freakonomics!

At the behest of our resident commenter Chic Noir, let's utilize our Afro-conservative and ever discerning microscope to decipher the meaning of a recent Freakonomics/NY Times article entitled, How Much Does It Cost You in Wages if You “Sound Black?” And again, a special hat tip to Chic for hipping yours truly to this piece. First off, I think we must determine what exactly does it mean to sound Black? I would surmise that it refers to sounding stereotypically Black and underclass. Interestingly enough, the Freakonomics article also states that sounding "southern" has negative equity allusions attached to it as well.

I think that it's time that part of the cultural shift message that our blog (as well as the other protagonists in this saga-Cosby, Poussaint, Juan Williams and the above captioned, Gerard McClendon) has been calling for, should be the demise of the matter-of-fact assertion that definitive Blackness equals failure. Bear with me as I switch into nerdic mode, but I always likened uber-Blackness to someone akin to my hero (respectfully excluding my parents on this one point) Paul Robeson. Robeson, clearly dispels any notion that a Black person is inherently inferior as he was the consummate polymath. He was literally a Jack of all trades on many fronts-scholarship, intellectualism, athletics, public speaking and artistry. Okay, he was the living embodiment of Marvel Comics' Black Panther-there I said it(my nerd moment..sorry).

And there have been innumerable examples of Black genius in our lifetime that the media and Joe Public ignore on a daily basis. But unfortunately as a carry over from the last century, the usage of the term "Black" or "too Black" has come to mean ignorance and failure, which must be rooted from our current lexicon. I want to make this clear, our criticisms of certain ghettoized names and stereotyped Black diction does not mean that we are suggesting that a person of African descent capitulate to wholesale Euro-centrism. But when a person of color speaks SE (Standard English), is refined and/or erudite does it automatically mean that he or she is sounding "White?" I would definitely like to see or hear footage of the sounding Black test that the Times article in question referenced. I'm just not sure if this was a matter of SE being spoken, Black intonation mixed with SE or stereotypical AAVE (African-American Vernacular English). We decided to take a break from broadcasting Afronerd Radio this evening but this may be a subject to bring up for next Sunday's show. What do you guys think? What does Black sound like? And better yet, what does White sound like? Here's more on the origins of Black English:

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