Ebonics

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Fred Reed’s piece today mentions Ebonics, which reminds me of the two times that the term came up with the inner city children that I worked with through a ministry of my church for about 10 years.

The first time was some years ago when the idea of teaching Ebonics in the schools was first making the rounds. They brought it up, with looks of innocent confusion that I wish I could show you a picture of, and asked me what this was all about. They thought it was silly to teach them Ebonics, as they clearly already were fluent in it, while learning proper written and spoken English was something they had plenty to learn about. (Though I often found my students to be abysmally ignorant and narrow-minded, I also found them to have quick minds, sharp wits and a pretty good BS-detector). They asked me why something so silly was being considered. I told them that the ideal of a color-blind government had never been achieved in the U.S. The laws discriminating against blacks were replaced with laws intended to discriminate in their favour… Neither regime being particularly helpful to blacks.

Later, when one of my students had her first child, she rebuked some boys who were cursing around her newborn. “Shut up! I don’t want my baby growin’ up speakin’ no Ebonics!” I always thought that was a hilarious moment.

That I have the faint inkling of a training in English grammer at all is entirely due to my great Latin teacher. Tragically, I believe Latin is rarely taught in gov’t schools anymore. Thanks Mr. Ganz!

3:11 pm on January 7, 2004