I’m Black and I’m Loud
Jonah Hill recently came between my husband and me. Actually, neither one of us has met the actor, but we ended up fighting over him anyway.
To be accurate, we had a heated discussion about Hill — more specifically, about whether a shirtless picture the Daily Mail ran of him in February qualified as fat-shaming. The argument was really over our different arguing styles. We’re both passionate and hyper-sensitive with a tendency to get defensive pretty easily (like most humans), but when things heat up, I’m typically the loudest. Let’s face it: Even when the fire inside is barely flickering, my voice can raise the dead.
My husband is not the first person to interpret my making a relatively neutral statement as an attack. I’m passionate in my convictions, and sometimes when I get to the point, I sound like I’m yelling, though I might just be trying to get through my sentences without stammering.
I’m a lifelong stutterer, and the mere act of talking can arouse excitability. Oh no, here comes an ‘A.’ Will I be able to get from there to the next syllable without falling apart? Suddenly, in my desperation to get everything out without losing control of my voice, I’m talking louder than I intend to.
Thankfully, my vocal volume hasn’t ended any friendships and my marriage remains strong, but I’m keeping an eye — and my ears — on things. I recently took a business call on speaker, and I didn’t realize how loudly I was talking until my head started pounding when it was over. Was it the same tone I sometimes use when I’m just shooting the breeze? I posed the rhetorical question to my husband, and his polite silence gave me my answer.
My people are, in general, passionate. You can hear it in the differences between how White and Black comedians deliver jokes, how White and Black people sing, and how they…