Jamila Lyiscott
4,096,927 views • 4:29

Today, a baffled lady observed the shell where my soul dwells

And announced that I'm "articulate"

Which means that when it comes to enunciation and diction

I don't even think of it

‘Cause I’m "articulate"

So when my professor asks a question

And my answer is tainted with a connotation of urbanized suggestion

There’s no misdirected intention

Pay attention

‘Cause I’m “articulate”

So when my father asks, “Wha’ kinda ting is dis?”

My “articulate” answer never goes amiss

I say “father, this is the impending problem at hand”

And when I’m on the block I switch it up just because I can

So when my boy says, “What’s good with you son?”

I just say, “I jus’ fall out wit dem people but I done!”

And sometimes in class

I might pause the intellectual sounding flow to ask

“Yo! Why dese books neva be about my peoples”

Yes, I have decided to treat all three of my languages as equals

Because I’m “articulate”

But who controls articulation?

Because the English language is a multifaceted oration

Subject to indefinite transformation

Now you may think that it is ignorant to speak broken English

But I’m here to tell you that even “articulate” Americans sound foolish to the British

So when my Professor comes on the block and says, “Hello”

I stop him and say “Noooo …

You’re being inarticulate … the proper way is to say ‘what’s good’”

Now you may think that’s too hood, that’s not cool

But I’m here to tell you that even our language has rules

So when Mommy mocks me and says “ya’ll-be-madd-going-to-the-store”

I say “Mommy, no, that sentence is not following the law

Never does the word "madd" go before a present participle

That’s simply the principle of this English”

If I had the vocal capacity I would sing this from every mountaintop,

From every suburbia, and every hood

‘Cause the only God of language is the one recorded in the Genesis

Of this world saying “it is good"

So I may not always come before you with excellency of speech

But do not judge me by my language and assume

That I’m too ignorant to teach

‘Cause I speak three tongues

One for each:

Home, school and friends

I’m a tri-lingual orator

Sometimes I’m consistent with my language now

Then switch it up so I don’t bore later

Sometimes I fight back two tongues

While I use the other one in the classroom

And when I mistakenly mix them up

I feel crazy like … I’m cooking in the bathroom

I know that I had to borrow your language because mines was stolen

But you can’t expect me to speak your history wholly while mines is broken

These words are spoken

By someone who is simply fed up with the Eurocentric ideals of this season

And the reason I speak a composite version of your language

Is because mines was raped away along with my history

I speak broken English so the profusing gashes can remind us

That our current state is not a mystery

I’m so tired of the negative images that are driving my people mad

So unless you’ve seen it rob a bank stop calling my hair bad

I’m so sick of this nonsensical racial disparity

So don’t call it good unless your hair is known for donating to charity

As much as has been raped away from our people

How can you expect me to treat their imprint on your language

As anything less than equal

Let there be no confusion

Let there be no hesitation

This is not a promotion of ignorance

This is a linguistic celebration

That’s why I put "tri-lingual" on my last job application

I can help to diversify your consumer market is all I wanted them to know

And when they call me for the interview I’ll be more than happy to show that

I can say:

“What’s good”

“Whatagwan”

And of course …“Hello”

Because I’m “articulate”

Thank you.

(Applause)