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An Important Conversation about an "Idle Notion"

Once again, Bill Moyers brings us a voice that needs to be heard; that of linguist, professor and author John McWhorter. The starting point for tonight's conversation on Bill Moyers' Journal was Eric Holder's comments on needing a "conversation on race" and on our being a "nation of cowards." Holder's statement does a grand disservice. It labels, it assumes, it presumes. And it ignores the thousands of Americans who have fought for civil rights and racial equality, Americans of all "colors." I thought the new Attorney General was smarter than that.

Fortunately, John McWhorter is smarter than that. In his conversation tonight with Bill Moyers, he stated, "Conversation about race, I think, is an idle notion." It is becoming, in fact, a meaningless notion. I believe that we might even be reaching the point where such a "conversation" may recreate "racial" problems that were on their way to being resolved. McWhorter emphasized the need to uplift communities and recapped a key fact: This country just elected an African-American president--by a very large majority. Let's take this as a next starting point, keep moving ahead, keep working to fix whatever needs a fixin'.

You owe it to yourself to listen to this insightful and intelligent conversation with this African American scholar. Watch the video here. Read the interview transcript here. But don't stop there. Take a cue from McWhorter and pay more attention to what you say, how you say it, why you say it, and just what it is you take and make from the alphabet soup we call English. Language is the tool with which we make our lives work, with which we explore and resolve differences. McWhorter's latest book on language is:

His books on African-American (emphasis on the word American--they apply to all of us):

Why Hip-Hop Can't Save Black America

Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America

Automatically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority

Links to his articles are here.


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