Sunday blogging against racism #43–“ebonics”, Faux news, etc.

ugh, ugh, ugh. 

I don’t think I ever watch Faux news (except occasionally my local version), but I hear enough about it across the blogosphere to know that it’s a bunch of crap that I don’t WANT to watch. 

However, as you may know, I’m pretty passionate about making sure that people understand that Black English (whether you want to call it by the greatly maligned, mocked, and misunderstood term “ebonics”, or use the more descriptive phrase, “black English vernacular”) is NOT merely a matter of ignorance, but is an actual dialect with its own grammatical rules and structure. So when I see a black man on Faux News whose stated mission is to de-ignorantize (there’s some Lorraine-bonics for you!) those poor, “ignorant” inner-city black kids, it just boils my biscuits. 

Don’t get me wrong . . . it’s not the fact that he’s teaching these young people to cope in the predominant culture that bothers me . . . it’s his ATTITUDE about it, and his obvious lack of understanding of linguistics (not to mention history!) that makes me angry. 

In the video linked above (I was so pissed off that I didn’t even want to embed it), we hear at least one young black woman buying into the lie as she says,  “in the area I grew up in . . .  we don’t talk proper English”. Way to teach people to hate themselves for a language pattern that has a long and complex history that can be traced back to slavery and before! 

The Faux News piece even conjures up Bill Cosby, in effect implying that McClendon is getting flack, just like Cosby does, for trying to improve the lot of ‘his people’.

did I mention, “UGH!!!!!!!!!!”??? Field, (who I have to thank for calling my attention to this) would definitely have a name for Mr. McClendon (and perhaps the rest of his family, although I’m not sure what to make of the greater (and seemingly very random) “corporation”).

It’s surely no coincidence that I just heard a very wise man whom I greatly admire talking this week about the language that white North Americans use to label languages and cultural traditions that are not their own. “North Americans have ‘ethnicities’, he said, “whereas Africans have ‘tribes’; North Americans speak a “language”, whereas Africans” (and surely this applies to native American people groups across our own continent as well!) “have ‘dialects’.”

If you want to know how I feel about ebonics BEV, then you should read this. In case you’re lazy, here’s an excerpt:

Labov‘s point was that speakers of BEV weren’t simply making random grammatical mistakes when they spoke. They were following rules that their community of speakers had developed, and which they had learned from being immersed in it. What they were speaking, he argued, was not a flawed and failed attempt at standard English, but a particular version of English that was just as expressive and fluent as standard.

Better yet, watch this video . . . it will cleanse your heart and soul of the BS that Mr. Garrard “H.N.*” McClendon is dishing out . . . 

(*yeah, I don’t feel like I’m allowed to use that term, and you know that I can barely say that word to begin with, but hopefully you get the idea.)