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TALKING BLACK in AMERICA – Education


[Children reading a book outloud] I think to the extent that we can shine a
light on the ways in which these misconceptions about language sort of perpetuate these racist
ideas that continue to circulate in our society, it’s important. Especially when it comes to language because
a lot of times people assume that there is some linguistic basis for the stigma. And they’re not aware that it really is about
the people. What does Standard English accomplish that
these so-called versions of substandard English don’t accomplish in terms of communication? Nothing. You know what I mean? Nothing at all. And anything that seems to stand in the way,
you’d say, “Oh it will help you get a job.” Well, is that because of the language? It’s not that you’re unable to communicate. Or is that because of all these various “isms”
that stand in the way of you being able to take care of yourself because you live in
a country that likes to do things like stand in the way of certain people being able to
take care of theirself. The, the issue, Mr. Chairman, has received
a lot of attention all over the United States. And I simply want to say that I think Ebonics
is absurd. In the mid-90s – 1995, 1996 – there was the
big Ebonics controversy. Many linguists have stated that Oakland’s
decision is credible, it is rational, and a potentially effective way to improve the
academic standard of its students. The Oakland school board was trying to get
what had been fairly solidly established linguistic research into schools. And the public really misunderstood the message
of what was happening, and reacted in ways that kind of set back what educators were
trying to do with language. That’s just bad English, isn’t it? How could you say that’s a language? No, that’s different English-
No, it’s bad English. No, that’s no-. But that’s your opinion that it’s bad. No, that’s not my opinion– A lot of teachers just kind of take what they’ve
heard, sort of the predominant social narratives, and they just sort of, you know, reproduce
them. The average citizen who encountered the term
of Ebonics during the Oakland controversy did so at a time when late-night talk show
hosts were, you know, lampooning the term. And as a professional linguist, I was disheartened
when I saw so many people mocking a term that referred to linguistic circumstances that
I think should be better understood by the entire nation, but which have been the object
of linguistic discrimination since the inception of slavery.

2 Replies to “TALKING BLACK in AMERICA – Education”

  • 0:59 – How can Mr. Lauch Faircloth sit there and criticize ANYBODY's way of speaking with that thick Southern accent he has? And this is coming from a white man born in the South. What hypocrisy, and what a shame. This looks like a cool documentary and as a linguist I love your project. This message needs to be spread. Thanks!

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