"sounding black"

laurie owens laurieOwens at MSN.COM
Wed Jan 23 00:01:58 UTC 2002


I am a student at the University of Washington, School of Law.  I am currently writing my analytic on a Kentucky case that admitted testimony of a police officer that the defendant "sounded black".  The only man that was black in a house was arrested based on the police officers "description".  The police officer never saw the defendant until trial.  The defendant was convicted based on this "identification".  Outrageous, no!?!

My contention is that whoever the police officer heard "sounded inner-city".  I am looking for studies that have run blind tests to identify the race of American dialect speakers and any associated articles.  I know that some blacks can "sound white" and some whites (specifically inner-city) do "sound black".  (Whatever that really means).

Time is of the essence.  Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.


Laurie Owens

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