The Pine-Sol Lady and the Whens and Wheres of Talking Black

Clutch magazine's Janelle Harris admits that she's at least partly guilty of "pandering to the social convention that dismisses the way black folks speak as sounding uneducated."

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Clutch magazine's Janelle Harris admits that she's at least partly guilty of "pandering to the social convention that dismisses the way black folks speak as sounding uneducated."

I don't have anything personal against The Pine-Sol Lady. She's probably a very nice person who has made valuable contributions to society, her community, maybe even her industry during her career as an actress and product spokesperson.

But every time I see one of those commercials, I roll my eyes because for reasons known only to her, she's been OK with years and years of scripting that have made her come off as a modern-day mammy. In order to lend extra credibility to the power of Pine-Sol, she's had to oomph it up with a little baby-honey-sugar catch phrasing. I guess, in the minds of the advertising team over there at Clorox brands, if it's endorsed by someone who looks and sounds like she could be an old-school domestic, then maybe consumers will believe that it really must be that good.

I'm not against the way she talks. Black speak is my first language, too, the tongue I feel most comfortable chatting, even blogging, in. By day, I'm a freelance writer and copyeditor. Though the latter is necessary, it's certainly not the sexy, artistic, Carrie Bradshaw side of the editorial field.

Read Janelle Harris' entire piece at Clutch magazine.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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Writer and editor Janelle Harris resides in Washington, D.C., frequents Twitter and lives on Facebook.

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