I caught this audio clip awhile back and have been meaning to share it. Obama sounds convincingly like a black person – he works it so well, it’s easy to forget that he was mostly raised by white people in places where black folks are a tiny minority. As members of the black middle class, we are experts at turning off and on the “blaccent”. There’s how we talk amongst ourselves and how we might talk in mixed company. As an orator, there’s great power in applying some African-American flava to your patois — ask any southern white preacher. Over at Studio 360, they took a good long look at the phenom as applies to #44.

Sounding Black

Black is not just a skin color; it’s a quality of voice. Sarah Jones, the Tony Award-winning performer, talks with linguist John McWhorter about what it means to sound black today. They look at how Barack Obama has used “blaccent” to drive audiences wild. Produced by Studio 360’s Derek John.

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