An unarticulated meaning

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  1. I guess I am a bit confused… when you referred to your cousin as “Dr”, you used his title (similar to referring to someone as “Mr” or “Mrs” or “Ms”) – this certainly isn’t a race-based thing (if I had a relative who had a PhD or MD, I would use the title out of respect – just as if I had a relative in the Armed Forces, I would use their military rank.) Why would this be inappropriate?
    This is certainly different from what they have been saying about Sen Obama (as you noted, descriptive terms such as “articulate” and “clean” aren’t titles.) I too have thought that Sen. Obama presents himself differently from other African-American presidential wannabes: he doesn’t represent himself primarily as a Black candidate, rather as a candidate who happens to be Black (or African-American, if that is your preferred term.) This difference in presentation is very likely what Biden et. al. have been referring to, but they tried to get too fancy with their words.

  2. No — I mean in extremely casual settings. And (far more importantly) — he doesn’t use the title when referring to / introducing himself.   It’s not part of his personal identity / identifier.
    As it happens, I don’t think there’s malicious or even subconscious intent in Biden’s comment… but I do know that it happens.

  3. OK, that makes sense.
    And I agree, it is unlikely there was any intent to express racism (either hard or soft) in either Sen. Biden’s or the President’s remarks. As I mentioned above, I suspect they were simply trying to note the difference in how Sen. Obama presents himself, and used a term that others could assign a more sinister undertone to.
    Ah well, it keeps life fun and the blood pressure up…

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  5. Colin Powell was frequently described as “well-spoken”, which he was. I have heard a number African Americans take exception to that, including one person who said that all Chairman of the Joint Chiefs were well spoken. Colon Powell’s successors were far less “well spoken” than he is. John Shalikashvili spoke English with difficulty and a decided Polish accent. listening to him talk was painful, however intelligent the content.
    While what Biden said, particularly the clean and good looking part was clumsy and offensive to many, I find it difficult to equate “articulate” with bigotry. That to me smacks of looking for issues which might not exist. If someone criticizes Obama, as they certainly will soon, that person will also be called racist. I wonder when we will begin to look beyond color to a persons individual qualities.
    Obama is clearly more in command of the English language that either G W Bush, Ray Nagin or Joe Biden for example, I think that qualifies as articulate..

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