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Articulate While Black : Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.
by H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman and Michael Eric Dyson


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.  Read more...

 
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More About Articulate While Black by H. Samy Alim; Geneva Smitherman; Michael Eric Dyson
 
 
 
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.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780199812981
  • ISBN-10: 0199812985
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publish Date: October 2012
  • Page Count: 205
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.65 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Language Arts & Disciplines > Linguistics - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-07-16
  • Reviewer: Staff

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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