The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African-American Children


When the Oakland school board issued a resolution calling for schools to acknowledge the reality of black English in the classroom, a huge national outcry and media frenzy arose. The debate about "Ebonics" made national headlines, quickly became politicized and divisive, opened wounds about ra ce, then faded from public consciousness. But in the classrooms of America, the question of how to engage the distinctive language of many African-American children remains urgent. In The Real Ebonics Debate, some of our most important progressive educators, linguists, and writers, as well as teachers and students reporting from the field, examine the lessons of the Ebonics controversy and unravel the complexities of the issue, covering realities never acknowledged by the media. They discuss the meaning of th e political debate; they think through the detailed dynamics of teacher-student interaction; and they give wonderfully precise linguistic insight into the structure and uses of African-American English-from colloquial speech to the literary voice of Toni Morrison. The Real Ebonics Debate cuts to the heart of how America educates African-American children. It will have immediate and enduring value for anyone thinking about race and schools.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Lisa Delpit
  • Theresa Perry
  • Wayne O'Neil
  • Ernie Smith
  • James Baldwin
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Boston
Publication year:
  • 1998


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.