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Ebonics November 27, 2006

Posted by betweennaps in Black People.
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My roommate is a graduate student studying educational linguistics.  We often talk about educational issues, and she has a lot of really leftist views.  She’s not really a political person, so I think that her views stem from the leftward tendencies of many graduate schools.  Today she asked me what I thought about Ebonics.

I think that whatever you speak at home or with your friends is your own business, but to not teach black children standard English is short changing them in the long run.  Whether or not it’s fair, a black job candidate who speaks “white English” will be looked upon more favorably than a black job candidate who speaks Ebonics.

My roommate has a problem with looking down on people because of their language or the way that they speak.  Because black people grow up with Ebonics, it’s not fair to have to change the way they speak to fit in with white culture.  It’s not fair that by and large all successful black people have had to give up their black identities.  My roommate is studying Cantonese (something about how the written Cantonese is different from spoken Cantonese and how in general it’s considered less prestigious than Mandarin), and she feels that it is unfair that many Chinese people look down on Cantonese speakers.  When she was reading criticism about Ebonics, she became extremely upset because of the parallels she saw between Ebonics and Cantonese.

My roommate is an intelligent person, yet her views on education and language make absolutely no sense to me.  I still can’t fully articulate my beliefs because I’m hesitant to make a judgment call on something that’s not “mainstream.”  Ebonics in and of itself is not bad.  I guess it comes down to practicality.  Although I can see that a person’s background may disadvantage him in life, I think that pretending that Ebonics won’t negatively impact a person’s job prospects only handicaps him further.

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