This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ebonics: How detrimental is it?

McLean, Va.: What about "Ebonics" -- do you think it's detrimental to a large part of our society?

Robert MacNeil: Ebonics is another word for what linguists call the African American Vernacular English, a dialect of English. The controversy over Ebonics arose when the Oakland, Calif. school system claimed that it was a different language and therefore qualified for federal funds to finance the teaching of ESL, English as a Second Language. The furor that arose greatly confused the issue, which remains important in American schools, and an obstacle to children from the inner cities who have more trouble learning to read and a higher dropout rate than other American children. In our TV series and book we explore an experiment in Los Angeles schools to teach 5th graders the difference between their home speech and mainstream American English. Steve Harvey, a popular radio host in LA and an African American, says that to get on in this country "you need to be bilingual." Unfortunately many teachers, black and white, so look down on "street talk" that it prejudices them against the children, whom they sometimes treat as uneducable. The LA experiment is an effort to treat the black dialect more sympathetically and without racist putdowns to bring the children along into standard English.


Fairfax, Va.: I heard what you said yesterday on NPR re: Black English and agree completely. I wish we'd stop maligning it and study it seriously as a dialect the way we do other regional or ethnic dialects. I think it's a subtle form of racism. We did the same thing with jazz, thinking it primitive, and now know it is one of the most sophisticated music forms out there.

Robert MacNeil: Right on!

I would like to thank you all, y'all, youns, yinz for your interesting questions and I will leave you with what is fast becoming the universal American form of address, so thanks you guys.

*Text lifted from, click here to read the full article.


Post a Comment

<< Home