Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. [NOOK Book]

Overview

Barack Obama is widely considered one of the most powerful and charismatic speakers of our age. Without missing a beat, he often moves between Washington insider talk and culturally Black ways of speaking--as shown in a famous YouTube clip, where Obama declined the change offered to him by a Black cashier in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with the phrase, "Nah, we straight."
In Articulate While Black, two renowned scholars of Black Language address language and racial politics in...
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Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.

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Overview

Barack Obama is widely considered one of the most powerful and charismatic speakers of our age. Without missing a beat, he often moves between Washington insider talk and culturally Black ways of speaking--as shown in a famous YouTube clip, where Obama declined the change offered to him by a Black cashier in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with the phrase, "Nah, we straight."
In Articulate While Black, two renowned scholars of Black Language address language and racial politics in the U.S. through an insightful examination of President Barack Obama's language use--and America's response to it. In this eloquently written and powerfully argued book, H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman provide new insights about President Obama and the relationship between language and race in contemporary society. Throughout, they analyze several racially loaded, cultural-linguistic controversies involving the President--from his use of Black Language and his "articulateness" to his "Race Speech," the so-called "fist-bump," and his relationship to Hip Hop Culture.
Using their analysis of Barack Obama as a point of departure, Alim and Smitherman reveal how major debates about language, race, and educational inequality erupt into moments of racial crisis in America. In challenging American ideas about language, race, education, and power, they help take the national dialogue on race to the next level. In much the same way that Cornel West revealed nearly two decades ago that "race matters," Alim and Smitherman in this groundbreaking book show how deeply "language matters" to the national conversation on race--and in our daily lives.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sociolinguists Alim and Smitherman bring dual backgrounds as educators and activists to this metalinguistic analysis of “racially loaded cultural-linguistics controversies” about Obama, or as they so deftly say, “we’re gonna talk about the talk about the way Barack Obama talks.” Even as their style and tone reflect their command of and respect for the vernacular, their substantial research reflects an equal affinity for the professionally academic; thus, for example, Obama “knows how to ‘drop it like it’s hot’” and, in linguistic jargon, “monophthongize his diphthongs.” They are particularly informative in placing Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s sermon in the context of both Puritan jeremiad and traditional African-American sermons; in examining Obama’s uses of and departures from that genre in “A More Perfect Union,” (the race speech); in elucidating the fist pound (not the fist bump: “But first, y’all, before we go anotha fuhtha, let’s git the nomenclature right”) and hip-hop controversies; and reviewing the swirl around the term “articulate.” It takes some patience to hang in with the authors’ own vernacular, but the reward is a heightened sense of “the complexity and richness of Black language” and significant insight into Obama’s “mastery of Black cultural modes of discourse” that were “crucial to his being elected... president.” (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199985982
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/3/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 674,536
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

H. Samy Alim is Associate Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Anthropology and Linguistics at Stanford University, where he directs the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Language (CREAL) and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA). Some of his most recent books include You Know My Steez, Roc the Mic Right, Talkin Black Talk, and Global Linguistic Flows. He has also written for various media outlets, including The New York Times, Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), and The Philadelphia New Observer, among others.

Geneva Smitherman is University Distinguished Professor Emerita of English, Co-Founder and Core Faculty, African American and African Studies, and Core Faculty, African Studies Center, at Michigan State University. A linguist and educational activist, she has been at the forefront of the struggle for language rights for over 30 years. She is the author of several books, among them Talkin and Testifyin, Black Talk, Talkin That Talk, and Word from the Mother.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Showin Love
1 "Nah, We Straight": Black Language and America's First Black President 12
2 A.W.B. (Articulate While Black): Language and Racial Politics in the U.S. 54
3 Makin A Way Outta No Way: The Race Speech and Obama's Rhetorical Remix 101
4 "The Fist Bump Heard 'round the World": How Black Communication Becomes Controversial 144
5 "My President's Black, My Lambo's Blue": Hip Hop, Race, and the Culture Wars 194
6 Change the Game: Language, Education, and the Cruel Fallout of Racism 248
Index

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