The Corporate Storyteller

Expert tips on management communications and the power of storytelling

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Down with Doublespeak, Part II

The day following my last post, an article appeared in the Seattle Times about a Seattle DJ who also has had his fill of doublespeak. Columnist Danny Westneat wrote about Chukundi Salisbury, "a 38-year-old DJ, party promoter and street-culture magazine publisher." Salisbury dared to speak bluntly at a community gathering that included a tribute and a posthumous award to a young black man who had been shot to death a few weeks prior.

As Westneat describes the scene at a local library meeting room, "Love had died, it was said. Had passed away. Had been taken from us." As the euphemisms continued, Salisbury couldn't contain himself. He strode to the front of the room and said emphatically, "Let's be clear about this — Tyrone Love was MURDERED. He didn't die. Somebody killed him and that person is a MURDERER."

Later, in response to a question from Westneat, Salisbury explained, "somebody had to call out what happened for what it is." Salisbury is particularly concerned about stopping black-against-black violence, and he believes that speaking clearly about it--and calling it what it is--is the key to turning things around and building a more caring, healthier community.

I couldn't agree more. Euphemisms shield us from the aspects of reality we'd rather not deal with, but softening the impact by calling it something else perpetuates the problem. The first step to fixing what's wrong with our world is recognizing that there's a problem right in front of us--and calling it by name.

If you'd like to read Westneat's entire column and more of Salisbury's no-nonsense approach, go to

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