From an early age, I developed passion words. I read fluently at age four, and upon entering kindergarten, I was reading at a second grade level. Shortly after learning to read, my parents, through our church, introduced me to public speaking. That gave me a desire to read more, because if people were going to listen to me, I wanted to make sure I had something interesting to say. I read the encyclopedia ("Funky Wagnalls"), cereal boxes (which irritated me because no one could explain the use of riboflavin, or agree on which vowels had short or long sounds), the newspaper, and every book that came through the house. I read Great Expectations at eight, began devouring Shakespeare at eleven, and had a full fledged seven-book-a-week habit at twelve.
At ten, I began composing my own works - poems, songs, short stories - for my own private entertainment. I shared my work for the first time in sixth grade. When my teacher pulled me on the side and asked who helped me to write my assignment, I knew I was on to something. I can converse with the urbane, the uncultured, and everyone in-between. I am life's student. I am a writer. I am a mother who passes these same values on to her children. I am the parent of a future Johns Hopkins alum. I am a black woman. I am a product of the public school system. I am not an island. There are many like me.
Therefore, white people who just don't get it, THIS is why "speaks so well" pisses us off. (Thanks ACT.) This is why "he's so articulate" makes us liken you to the worst of bigots. Because we KNOW what you mean. We KNOW what you are expecting. Hell, YOU, most often, have had a hand in creating the system that was meant to crank out this ignorant subculture. And yet, it still didn't work. So, your back-handed slights WILL be checked. YES, every time.
So this has you "afraid" to speak your mind? Good. Be afraid. Be mortified. Let it make you think, "Exactly how long has unchecked stupidity been pouring from my piehole?" Don't let the La Shawn Barbers *cough symbolic house negroes* gas you into believing your actions are acceptable ("Massa ain't mean dat de way you sed"). Did he not know he would be speaking to a national audience? It wasn't "awkward," it was ignorant. (Thanks Mr. Clemens.) Racism is ignorance at it's finest.
So you're damn right, we're sensitive. And we will remain so as long as overt racism is seen as nothing more than a big misunderstanding.