Skip to comments.Students Hooked on 'Ebonics' Are Being Groomed for Failure
Posted on 06/04/2002 9:16:59 AM PDT by Stand Watch Listen
Remember "ebonics?" In December 1996 a national debate erupted about the Oakland, Calif., school-board decision authorizing teachers to use street slang while teaching children standard English. For the last six years, with the connivance of the mainstream media, most Americans have been able to forget ebonics. Unfortunately, however, this foolishness has continued.
Linguistics professors Walt Wolfram and Erik Thomas defend ebonics as the legitimate dialect of a dynamic minority in their new book, The Development of African-American English. New York state regent Adelaide Sanford recently insisted that her support of ebonics had been "misrepresented" and that ebonics is the language of great black poets of the past, such as James Weldon Johnson. In 2001, the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) reiterated its 1997 statement supporting ebonics. And, in 1998, academics Lisa Delpit and Theresa Perry edited an anthology, The Real Ebonics Debate, in which none of the approximately 30 contributions dared to criticize the newly accepted dialect.
"Experts" tell us that ebonics is three things: 1) an African language that is genetically passed on among blacks; 2) a vocabulary that has grown out of the encounter of African slaves with Irish immigrants; and 3) a wholly new dialect created since the 1960s by young blacks to separate themselves from whites.
You might expect someone to have pointed out that the above definitions are mutually incompatible. But no such luck. Despite having a professional interest in rigorous, scholarly debate, most linguistics professors long ago abandoned any pretenses to objectivity. The most common and correct understanding by blacks and whites alike is that ebonics is broken English and/or street slang. However, any educator so defining ebonics is sure to be shouted down, or worse. As a result, those who know better have remained silent as one well-meaning academic once advised me to do.
Although ebonics supporters such as Keith Gilyard publicly have claimed otherwise, children taught using ebonics readers did worse than their peers who were taught with standard English readers. Consider this from an ebonics reader used by professors John and Angela Rickford:
"This here little Sister name Mae was most definitely untogether. I mean, like she didn't act together. She didn't look together. She was just an untogether Sister.
"Her teacher was always sounding on her 'bout daydreaming in class. I mean, like, just 'bout every day the teacher would be getting on her case. But it didn't seem to bother her none. She just kept on keeping on. Like, I guess daydreaming was her groove. And you know what they say: 'Don't knock your Sister's groove.' But a whole lotta people did knock it. But like I say, she just kept on keeping on.
"One day Mae was taking [sic] to herself in the lunch room. She was having this righteous old conversation with herself. She say, 'I wanna be a princess with long golden hair.' Now can you get ready for that? Long golden hair!
"Well, anyway, Mae say, 'If I can't be a princess I'll settle for some long golden hair. If I could just have me some long golden hair everything would be all right with me. Lord, if I could just have me some long golden hair.'"
Ebonics is a pillar of Afrocentrism. It is a movement which, using intimidation, violence and pseudoscholarship, has dumbed down the education of black children beyond recognition, illegally barred whites from teaching black children and deliberately cut poor, black children off from the mainstream of American life.
Afrocentrists maintain that the pigment melanin makes blacks intellectually, morally and culturally superior to whites. They teach black children that ancient black Egyptians flew gliders, that whites who dispute such fairy tales are racists who seek to deny black greatness and that all black educational failure is due to a racist, white conspiracy.
Afrocentrists such as George Washington University professor Robert Williams, who coined the term "ebonics" in 1973, maintain that it is an act of disrespect for a white teacher to correct a black child. Professor Charles Coleman of the City University of New York's (CUNY's) York College has argued that remedial education is harmful to black students.
Progressive white educators who support Afrocentrists insist that it is wrong to correct students' usage and grammar. Unfortunately, this approach leads teachers to give passing grades on writing-proficiency exams. The CUNY remedial students then are permitted to take college-level classes despite possessing only semiliterate reading abilities.
Many middle-class blacks like to sometimes "go ghetto" and use street slang. But these professionals can speak standard English in many cases, better than I can and can always go home. The poor and working-class blacks to whom Afrocentric educators have refused to teach standard English, however, have nowhere to go.
Nicholas Stix writes frequently on education issues and has been an instructor in the City University of New York.
The thing is, it is virtually unintelligible to a native English speaker who doesn't speak Patois. You definitely need an English/Patois dictionary to understand any of it. So is it a dialect, or a language?
Whatever it is, I found it beautiful and believe it definitely worth preserving -- eventhough it is obvious that anyone who speaks only Patois and cannot speak correct standard English will be doomed to a life of poverty.
Attempting to deliberately isolate ones ethnic group from the mainstream when that group possesses no economic power is truly a recipe for disaster. Had an outside group attempted to have done what the Afrocentric leaders have accomplished, they would be held in the same regard as the Nazis.
In reading the examples of ebonics, I was struck by how amazingly inefficient it is, often using 2 or 3 phrases to express the same thought.
On the bright side, fluency in ebonics can be useful in communicating to your co-worker on the back of the garbage truck.
Guns Before Butter.
And where on the chromosome bees that gene?
He said: "If I'm goin' to be im-poh-tent, I wanna look im-poh-tent!"
If you want on (or off) of my black conservative ping list, please let me know via FREEPmail. (And no, you don't have to be black to be on the list!)
Yo.Ho. Han me dat blade I be cutting dis ol groobedy thang here. No, Ho. Not dat groobedy thang dis here groobedy mofo thang. Oh S**T! Now dey be suin' us. I'll be makin sho dey sue yo too, yo ole honky ho, yo be a nurse den I be de King of Sweden.
One can only hope that it will be a proponent of Ebonics on de table. it is one thing to appreciate a dialect and another to try to intentionally use it to separate the people you are trying to fleece from the population at large. parsy.
Jus' ovah yonder by th' riddum jeans an' da wata'mel'n jeans.
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