Tag: ebonics

What Was The Fuss With Ebonics?

My solution to the Ebonics question is simplicity itself. As far as I’m concerned its proponents can take a flying phucllddyrhc (a Greco-Welsh patois learned at my mother’s knee and other low joints), but I am fascinated by the psychodynamics surrounding the controversy.

Jesse says, “No!”

The moment the media reported that the president of the school board had called black English “genetically based,” honchos of color heretofore famed for their support of any and all things African launched such a swift and unequivocal attack on Ebonics that they sounded like H. L. Mencken. Jesse Jackson called it “an unacceptable surrender bordering on disgrace” and predicted Oakland would become “the laughingstock of the nation.” “The very idea,” Maya Angelou huffed, was “threatening,” and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume contemptuously dismissed it as “a cruel joke.”

This unexpected switch from the excellence of self-esteem to the esteem of the excellent self took white America, and particularly white punditry, by surprise. Among the latter the chief reaction was intense relief, the kind of relief that makes people giddy. While blacks were sounding like Mencken hurling thunderbolts, pundits were sounding like someone who just found his lost wallet and discovered that all his money was still there.

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