Let us axe ourselves where we want to go from here. Photo by HamZa NOUASRIA on Unsplash

I’m OK When Black Folks Say “Axe”

CJ Sterling


I was having a conversation with a friend of mine tonight, where I was talking about some reviews online about a popular bar in Athens, Georgia, the 1785 Bar and Grill, where the review was written by a young Black woman, which accuses this bar of racism. It was one of several reviews on Yelp, Google, and other online review sites that also accused the bar of racist practices in not allowing black patrons inside.

Here is the review that started the debate between me and my friend:

“They Say The Owner Of This Club Only Allow Whites Only In His Club, Which I Think Its Racism Because I Got In One Time Then When Me And My Friends Try To Go Back A Couple Of Times They Always Say Students Only And Most Of Them Are Not Students.They Be Also Judging Others About Their Outfits, You Should Never Judge Or Disrespect Others. This Club Is Not Right At All, This The Only Club Always Have Problems With Blacks. Downtown Is Suppose To Be About Everyone Have A Good Time.”

My friend had a lot to say about the grammar, punctuation, and language.

We got into it about Black speech patterns, for instance, when Black folks say “axe” instead of “ask.”

I got okay with “axe” watching the January 6th hearings, where Trump supporters invaded the capitol to try to overturn the 2020 elections, and the Chairman of the January 6 congressional hearings, Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, saying “axe” instead of “ask.”

I am sure Representative Thompson, who has served as a representative in the US House since 1993 — that’s 15 terms — could have modified his speech to pronounce “axe” as “ask” long ago.

You can hear his opening remarks at the January 6th hearings here.

But he chose not to modify his language, even in the most important hearings in American history, not to change his native “axe” to “ask.”

Since 2011, Thompson has been the only Democrat in Mississippi’s congressional delegation. His district includes most of Jackson and is the only majority-black district in the state, even though the Black population is over 37% of Mississippi overall.

Under Chairman Thompson’s leadership, the bipartisan committee conducted a thorough investigation of the facts…



CJ Sterling

Writer, journalist. Commentary: Washington Post, Economist, Daily Beast, New York Times, Seattle Times, Crosscut, The Stranger. 2.8 million views, Quora.