Perception matters. White people can explain until the cows come home about what they mean by articulate, but until they’ve been on the receiving end of our experiences being considered less than and inferior, the word has power. It’s rooted in something a lot deeper that most White people don’t care to admit. I agree language is important, but speaking articulately doesn’t imply one is saying anything intelligent or useful. In my opinion it simply means a person has learned to speak the language acceptable to the majority.
Articulate means you talk like us. You must be smart. We can connect with you. I don’t care how a person talks. A lessons can come from an ass if you’re open to it. Pretentious people miss out on many things because the messengers don’t look like them, speak like them, etc. My lawn guy and I can barely communicate, but it doesn’t stop him from working. He does my lawn, and I pay him. We are respectful to each other, we communicate the best way we can — even about family, and we have a bond. It’s a loaded word, and White people would be served well by putting it out to pasture when describing intelligent People of Color. Call us bright. Intelligent. Smart. Knowledgeable. Professional. Ethical. We’re well-versed in XXX. Call us excellent. Anything but articulate. It implies you didn’t know we were smart until we spoke your language — which is dumb and a little racist.
Articulate is old and derogatory, and if I as a Black woman feel that’s what it means then perhaps you as a White man should consider I might know what I’m talking about. Consider our feelings and our perception. Everything isn’t about Whiteness all the time.