articulate

If someone calls you articulate, it means you express yourself clearly. Not everybody can do that. But you can. You’re articulate. Good for you! It’s a compliment. Right?

Well, it depends. Do you belong to a group of people who has, in recent history, been enslaved or denied basic human rights? And was one of the justifications for denying your group’s rights the really destructively wrong idea that your group was not as intelligent or self-aware as other groups? And is the person who called you “articulate” a member of the group of people who enslaved/denied rights to your group, and have members of her group been overtly and subtly questioning your group’s intelligence and making fun of the words and expressions favored by some members of your group (maybe words and expressions you use yourself) basically every day of your life leading up to the moment this person told you her opinion about the way you talk?

In that case, it would be pretty tough to take “articulate” as a compliment because you would have no idea how she meant it. Did she mean to say you have a way with words? Or did she mean she can’t believe how smart and normal you sound, based on how stupid and weird she was expecting you to sound?

It’s important to think about how your words might affect other people.