All Articles Tagged "ebonics"
Remember in Save the Last Dance where Kerry Washington’s character, Chenille, told Julia Stiles (Sara) that black people and white people live in two different worlds? Julia Stiles quickly blurted, “There’s only one world, Chenille!” to which she responded, “That’s what they teach you. We know different.” Whew! Now, I can’t say I completely agree with Chenille, but I will say there are plenty elements about black culture and heritage that a lot of white people know very little to nothing about. And since we don’t have time to educate all of the world’s ignorant, there may be so behaviors we don’t exhibit in the presence of those who just might not understand. Click on to see what I mean.
My mother was an English teacher, and by age eight, was the biggest pain in the butt ever because she corrected my grammar…constantly. It also didn’t help things that I grew up in the “The Valley,” which is code of Whitey-White-ville.
So when I visited my cousins in South Los Angeles, I was picked on for talking like a white girl. “Talking white” to them meant I had no skills whatsoever in ebonics. So I’d go crying to my aunts and older cousins, tattling on so-and-so for doing/being/saying such-and-such. One of my aunts told me something that I will never, ever forget. She said, “Don’t worry, Christelyn. When it’s time for you and xyz to apply for a job, you’ll be the one who always gets it first.”
She was right.
But why is that ‘acting black,’ ‘being down,’ or ‘keeping it real’ is so often synonymous with taking a hatchet to the King’s English, deriding your peers for getting good grades, and sacrificing the electric bill for a Coach bag?
And just so I wasn’t just inserting my own experiences and flinging them upon you, I posed this question to a few thousand of my Facebook friends. Here’s what they said:
My pal Yvonne posted, “If we’re talking stereotypes then it’s obnoxious, ill-mannered, multiple-children (with outrageous, unpronounceable names) with multiple people type of black person. For me, “acting black” meant loving God, displaying good manners (you represented the family every time you went out of the house), being polite and courteous, getting an education and marrying. This is what I grew up with and make every effort to emulate.”
Some thought that the contemporary version of ‘acting black’ was the diametrical opposite of ‘acting white.’ Meredith said, “The statement of “stop acting white” is meant to be an insult in the black community because no black person in their “right mind” wants to be called white, lest they lose their “black card,” but the statement itself is a reflection of our internal belief that we are inferior to whites. We all know that when someone says, a person is acting “black” they are talking about something negative.”
My friend, Kether, who is white and works as an administrator at my old high-school, said something that stunned me. “One of our black counselors said the other day that higher education is bad for black students because it homogenizes them and makes them “more white.”
Dude should be fired yesterday.
But I have to admit, there is an internal pressure felt by many blacks to listen to the same music, speak the same, live in the same neighborhoods, vote Democratic, dress a certain way, and share the same attitudes and bias, as if black people are some type of monolithic blob that we’re all sucked into. To deviate from any or all of the pre-approved ‘black list’ is to risk ridicule and ostracism from your own. Like to go to museums? You’re bougie. Date outside your race? You hate yourself. Speak proper English and educated? You think you’re better than us And if you’re in middle or high-school, that just might get you beat down.
But perhaps the deepest thing that Darius (who just so happens to be a GREAT guy I dated in high school) said, “Black people are synonymous with the portrayal that main stream media perpetrates. Our struggle, is no doubt one misunderstood by others due to the impossibility to experience the daily life of Black people. I have allowed racism, stereotypes, ignorance, infighting, etc. to build strength, and character. For those Black people who fall victim to these realities, I believe it is our job to educate them with our actions. I have chosen to do that with intellectual, physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional power. I refuse to be a victim of that which does not represent my family nor myself.”
Yeah. What he said.
Christelyn D. Karazin the co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race Culture and Creed (to be released February 2012), and runs a blog, www.beyondblackwhite.com, dedicated to women of color who are interested and or involved in interracial and intercultural relationships. She is also the founder and organizer of “No Wedding, No Womb,” an initiative to find solutions to the 72 percent out-of-wedlock rate in the black community.
There are a lot of controversial moments, works, and speeches in African-American history; not just significant and progressive works but controversial ones that introduced a radical idea to the African-American framework, incited action and/or changed the way some interpreted the plight of Blacks in the diaspora. This list does not include the “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. which is one of the most celebrated texts in modern history; rather, it includes those ideas rejected or challenged by the mainstream as well as those that resonate in the minds of many unconventional thinkers today. These are just a handful of those works and ideas from the library of provocative manifestos.
Willie Lynch Letter
Many times, on our comment boards, readers tend to invoke the historical document, the Willie Lynch letter, as a way to explain the roots of Black discord. Well, the Willie Lynch letter is now suspected to be a total fabrication. Who wrote the letter? We still don’t know. Nevertheless, the contents of that letter have sparked a critical discussion in the Black community.
The story is that in 1712, a sla-ve owner named Willie Lynch delivered a speech to other sla-ve-owners about how to control their sla-ves: by pitting them against one another. He instructed them to separate sla-ves by skin color, age, and sex in order to breed distrust and hate. Many have gone to explain this to be the reason between the division between lighter skinned and dark skinned peoples as well as the stressed relationship between black men and black women. The Willie Lynch letter is seen as the blueprint for self-hate in the Black community. Even though the letter is not authentic, it has ignited an important conversation about the ills of relations amongst Black people.
(Lexington Herald) –The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to hire nine Ebonics translators for the Southeast region briefly reignited a 40-year debate over whether African-American speech constitutes a separate language. The translators are expected to help the agency decipher wiretapped telephone conversations of suspected drug dealers who speak in the African-American vernacular, which some people think of as little more than slang.
By John McWhorter of The Root
For all the talk about what a subtle business the n-word is, the concept of Ebonics is just as tricky.
And in the wake of the theatrically pat culmination of the Dr. Laura drama — her exiting stage right — here we are grappling with the Drug Enforcement Administration sending out a call for Ebonics translators.
by Charing Ball
Well for those worried about finding a job in the recession, I got a hot lead for you: The Justice Department is looking for translators.
Don’t speak a foreign language, you say? No worries, this job requires no travel overseas and no expensive college courses in French, Mandarin or Spanish. All you need is a familiarity with the hood, a penchant for street lingo and you probably should own a couple of Snoop Dogg and E-40 albums. Just drop off your applications at the Justice Department. That’s right, the department is looking to hire translators fluent in ‘Ebonics’ to help monitor, transcribe and translate conversations recorded in drug investigations.
In an effort to fight homegrown terror, the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, is seeking a total of nine translators to assist the department’s Atlanta division in the “understanding of foreign languages used in conversations by speakers of languages other than English.” In other words, Dem federalli be lookin’ fo snitches ’cause dey stay be plottin’ on er’rebody, tryna catch us riddin’ dirrty, yaameen?
If this wasn’t a true story, it would be funny. Oh hell, it is true and it’s still funny. Good luck with the dat (that). But seriously (almost) it appears this job posting will mostly likely reignite the debate as to whether or not Ebonics is a real language or just ignorant spewing of those, who are too lazy to master the “correct” English.
Some modern black intellectuals have argued that Ebonics, also known as African-American English Vernacular, or AAEV, is a dialect that has been around since Blacks were enslaved. Being from different parts of Africa and unable to communicate between themselves, they began translating from the various African-based languages to English, Spanish, Portuguese, French etc.
Because certain sounds were foreign to many of the African-based languages, a natural distortion of English occurred. And because of the out-right prohibition of literacy among Blacks, this dialect was passed on from generation to generation. “Dat’s” and “Dese”, the verb “be” in place of “is” and “are” as well as dropping the “g” off of words (and my personal favorite, “ain’t”) are examples of this African-American Vernacular.
The term Ebonics, which is derived from Ebony Phonics, had been coined as early as the 1970s, however, it didn’t come back into play until 1996, when the Oakland School Board proposed the recognition of Ebonics as African American English and proposed its use to teach Standard English in the Oakland Schools. Of course, this created a firestorm of controversy within the African-American community, who challenged the logic of standardizing “bad” English.
If language are the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, than there should be no question that AAEV qualifies as a language, or at the very least a dialect of American English, as it has its own grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary.
There have always been many varieties of spoken English speak, from the Creole tongue of the Cajun Country to the Scot-Irish drawl of the Appalachian Mountains to the many English dialects from across the pond. And since English itself is a bastard language, created from Old Norse, French, German, Greek, Celtic and a host of around 60 other tongues, if a historical figures, such as Shakespeare, would pull a back to the future, he probably wouldn’t have a friggin’ clue what any of us would “be” saying.
As far as the Justice Departments needing Ebonics translators, it appears that they are barking up the wrong linguistics tree. What the Justice Department needs is a person, whom can translate street slang – although I imagine that the position might lend itself to high turnover, considering that slang is often times regional and changes as rapidly as it has been created. Not to mention that those who are well versed in street slang are not likely to go work for the Justice Department, ya’ feel me?
Perhaps the Justice Department would be better served putting their energies into actual undercover work because what we need deciphered is the legal jargon that has made it possible for corporate thuggin’ to run rampant.
By Sarah Netter of ABC News
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking for fluent Ebonics speakers to fill nine drug enforcement jobs, giving merit to a dialect that experts say is often mimicked and little understood.The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration translators would work out of the Atlanta field office according to a Justice Department request, posted online today by The Smoking Gun.