Talkin That Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America

Talkin That Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America

Talkin That Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America

Talkin That Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America

Synopsis

A highly readable collection of key articles and essays by a leading scholar on African American language and politics. Discussing the inter-relationship between African American language, culture and education, Talkin' that Talk is divided into sections, each introduced by the author, which include:* African American language and education* Language theory, research and the Black intellectual tradition* Black language and culture* Black women's discourse* Language policy and global multilingualism.

Excerpt

Whereas, numerous validated scholarly studies demonstrate that African American students as a part of their culture and history as African people possess and utilize a language described in various scholarly approaches as “Ebonics” (literally Black sounds)… BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education officially recognizes the existence, and the cultural and historic bases of West and Niger-Congo African Language Systems, and each language as the predominantly primary language of African American students… BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Superintendent in conjunction with her staff shall immediately devise and implement the best possible academic program for imparting instruction to African American students in their primary language for the combined purposes of maintaining the legitimacy and richness of…“Ebonics”…and to facilitate their acquisition and mastery of English language skills…

The Oakland, California School Board Ebonics Resolution, December 18, 1996

Looking back at what has now been a generation in the vineyards, I bear witness to that old saying that the more things change, the more they remain the same. I thought we linguists had at least established that Black Talk was systematic and had rules, and that its speakers were normal, intelligent people who just happened to speak a language different from that of television newscasters and bank presidents. Of course I didn’t have any illusions that everybody liked that different language, or its speakers, just that at least most people recognized and accepted these linguistic facts. But in December, 1996, when the Oakland, California School Board passed its resolution on Ebonics, seem like everybody and they momma start trippin—dissing the Oakland Board, calling Oakland’s Black students outa they names, and even tryin to come up wit laws against Ebonics! (See my “Some Folk Don’t Believe Fat Meat Is Greasy” for more on this legal campaign.) It became obvious that despite decades of research and scholarly work on Ebonics, there are still large numbers of people who do not accept the scientific facts about this language spoken by millions of Americans of African descent.

Nonetheless, I also bear witness to the power of collective action to make change. Check it out: the linguistically-biased speech

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