Ebonics is not only used by African Americans all across the country. The national issue around ebonics is centered around these language practices not being useful in acquiring a job or completing a college degree successfully. However, what these arguments fail to realize is the validity of this language use as a whole. Ebonics was adopted by African Americans as a survival mechanism. It is used in everyday speech by both blacks and whites and it is the mode of conversation on the streets. It has becalmed idolized by those outside the work force as something to emulate and master. Also, as a language, it deals with the same complexities, contradictions and nuanced interpretations as standard english. In other words, to say Ebonics is not a language of intelligible communication, or even worst to categorize it as a dialect, goes against the principles of language usage.
Now, the question becomes similar to the discourse on bilingual education, are we supposed to adapt to these students needs, or do they have to adapt and master standard english. According to the "Oakland School Board Ebonics Resolution", "Judicial cases in states other than California have recognized the unique language stature of African-American pupils, and such recognition by courts has resulted in court-mandated educational programs which have substantially benefited African American children in the interest of vindicating their equal protection of the law rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution." This resolution not only proves the positive potential funding for ebonic recognition programs can have in the classroom, but it also shows that if teachers approach these students with the mindset of elucidating that their language practices are just as legitimate as anyone else's, while simultaneously ingraining in them the urgency to master standard english in order to make it in the competitive work force.
However, we can never take away the cultural richness that comes with ebonics language practices. Ebonics is the fuel that made Hip-Hop become such a huge urban movement during the 80s. It was considered a cool club, and even though it is not appropriate in corporate America, it is the norm and the expectation in underground freestyle battles. With language as profane as poetic, hip-hop is the epitome of ebonics at its best.
Big L was a prophet of the streets of Harlem during the 1990s. He was able to spit witty lyrics straight out the dome with perfect accuracy and disses that made opponents tremble. As most proficient lyricists and freestylers, he perfected the language of Ebonics to the point where he wrote a song about it. Below is a quick song translating ebonics to standard english from an African American hip-hop artist's perspective.
In order to even begin grasping the complex nature of Ebonics, teachers all across the country who teach in urban classrooms and African American communities need to learn how to adequately improve students from using the language practices they bring to school and focusing on transferring that to english proficiency. In this context, the classroom would be ran as place where students can feel comfortable with their language practices while simultaneously acquiring english language proficiency. An idea of how this would be ran is highlighted by "Oakland School Board Ebonics Resolution" stating that, "standardized tests and grade scores will be remedied by application of a program that teachers and instructional assistants, who are certified in the methodology of African Language Systems principles used to transition students from the language patterns they bring to school to English. The certified teachers of these students will be provided incentives including, but not limited to salary differentials." These approaches may very well work because even though it may seem like Ebonics language practices are still being disregarded as inferior under this approach, it shows a pragmatic way of dealing with the reality of the situation at hand. In the real world, there is no way someone can get a job other than in the entertainment industry that's well paid and can provide that person with adequate means of survival.
On the other hand, as appealing as this program might seem to educators and people as a whole, there has been much opposition to this resolution rooted in native sentiments. Peter King, who was a Republican representative from the state of New York had the following opinion about the issue, "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that programs based upon the premise that "Ebonics" is a legitimate language should not receive Federal funds. Resolved,That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that no Federal funds should be used to pay for or support any program that is based upon the premise that "Ebonics" is a legitimate language. (Peter King, introduced 1/09/97, H. Res. 28)" (Richardson.) This focus to equate Ebonics to something less than a language - more like a dialect - is rooted on taking the legitimacy away from the language as a whole which make ideas of inferiority that much easier to grasp. Missing from this argument is the fact that the people who make a language ideologically legitimate is the people in power. In other words, if the power spectrum was the other way around and the people in power were historically African Americans and whites were disenfranchised, Ebonics would be considered a legitimate language.
Considering the setbacks bad education on Ebonics can bring to African American students, it also becomes a bit controversial to support these issues. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual to come up with their thoughts about Ebonics in the classrooms. Below is a video by I love 90s show which recaps this decision and has some interesting thoughts about this resolution from African Americans themselves. So what do you think, does Ebonics belong in the classroom?