Actor and musician Mike Ellison grew up in Reston in the 1980s, the son of a prominent African American journalist in a relatively progressive planned community. From childhood into his 40s, he has routinely heard the same backhanded compliment: “You’re so articulate.”
Ellison has turned that phrase on its head as an avenue to have tough conversations about race. This week, Ellison, who now lives in Loudoun, launches a three-part multimedia and spoken word series “You’re So Articulate.” The first performance in the series, “One Nation,” makes its debut atLoudoun’s Franklin Park Arts Center on July 25.
“I always heard in elementary school, middle school, high school, college and even as an adult, ‘You’re so articulate’ and it’s kind of a double-edged sword. … It’s saying, ‘Wow I like the way you express yourself,’ but you can tell behind that is, ‘We’re not used to Black folks, particularly Black men, being able to express themselves the way you do,’” Ellison said. “I’ve heard that throughout my life. Rather than rest solely on the negative or the positive, I wanted to use that title as a provocative mechanism.”