“You’re well spoken,” isn’t a compliment!

KiKi Riddle
Lee’s Summit, MO

I’m black and have lived in the mid-west all of my life. My parents were college educated with my father having earned his degree with a 4.0 in math and science. That same passion for education, as well as the importance of proper enunciation of the English language, was instilled in me. What amazes (and offends) me is to hear someone (usually a white person) express their pleasant surprise that a certain black person ‘is so well spoken’. This can be in relation to anyone from a black college kid, to a young black businessman, and even in relation to the President of the United States when he was running for election. Saying, “He/She/You’re so well spoken’ is NOT a compliment. It’s an insult, especially considering that same sentiment is rarely used when a Caucasian adult is being discussed. It’s as if it’s an anomaly to hear a black person enunciate their words or express an opinion in a more concise manner than the Sterotypical crime witness, reporters love to find on the local news. As one who has had this ridiculous sentiment directed at me, it is all I can do to remind myself that the individual who is speaking, is utterly clueless and more likely as not doesn’t even realize how ignorant he/she sounds.


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