Subject: EBONICS & BLACK MUSIC



Ebonics (Black street slang) has been in the news quite a bit lately because of the decision made by the Oakland, CA school board to bring it to the schools. Here on the Urban Sounds BB I would be willing to bet that there is more ebonics used per square foot than anyplace else on Prodigy. That is no surprise since much of the music that we discuss (Hip Hop, FUNK R&B, Reggae, etc) is seeped with ebonics as a result of its origins DEEP within the core and consciousness of Afrikan peoples.

How do you feel about ebonics ?
Should it be introduced into the schools ?
Should the use of ebonics be expanded/encouraged ?
How does it make you feel when you hear someone who is not a Black person using ebonics either in music or otherwise ?



Read on to see the viewpoints of others that we hang out with online




EBONICS


  • I think the focus of this ebonics issue should be on teaching standard english to black students, not how a school board decides to handle the problem. I don't agree with how Oakland handled the situation, but I don't hear anyone offering ideas to solve the problem. Go to those dedicated teachers that have made a difference and develop programs using their techniques (I'm sure we all know at least one!). I really don't see a problem with people using "ebonics", as long as they know how and when to use standardenglish. Slang has always been an important of our music >>>and culture, and should remain that way. The "slang" used in funk music are more than words, they evoke emotion. There's a time and place for everything.

  • I have also visited this web site, and another one as well, http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/oakland.standard.html. Basically they both say the same thing..I came away from them feeling very disappointed in the OUSD. Once again it appears that a scapegoat is needed.."now we shall blame black slang for the problems black children are having in school". In reading the OUSD's synopsis I found several things that bothered me.

    1.People are noticing that African American children are not doing very well in school..Lets give the problem a name..Hence the conception of "Ebonics".
    2. OUSD indicates that "We have directly connected English language proficiency to student achievement"..."Sight or Memorization" reading is taught in a lot of California schools..wonder how long it will take OUSD to realize that a "Phonics " approach to reading, beginning as early as preschool would benefit not only our children..but ALL children.
    3.OUSD denies that this policy will further segregate an "already racially divided school district"..Explain to me please how this will NOT happen...the further division is taking place even as I type...but of course I may be to "GENECTICALLY-BASED " to fully understand and comprehend...

  • In short... We as the Parents, Educators, Ministers, Community Leaders, Neighbors and Friends need to become MOREactively involved in our childrens education process. It is way past time for us to Wake Up. Our children have been classified as "Behavioral Problems, Learning Disabled, Emotionally Unstable, oh and the one I really love "ANGRY", We have sat by and watched this happen and part of the blame lies on us , whether we choose to accept it or not, whether we have children or not. We all know children,be they ours, our neices, nephews,grandchildren,the kids next door, the ones at church etc..GET INVOLVED..for being concerned, involved, and voicing your opinion is what causes change. We as a people cannot let another day go by where our children are once again "classified".


  • 1. Im not sure that special programs of any kind would be helpful. It seems to me that special programs are in fact part of the problem. What is truly needed in my opinion is same programs to assure equal opportunities. The track record of special programs to fix perceived deficiencies in Black people has not been good. In many cases they have only marginally addressed the real issue while at the same time reinforcing stereotypes of inferiority. As we approachthe millennium it may be time to begin to move away from this concept.

    2. As far as the use of ebonics in our music this is something I am not really sure about. While I am opposed to censorship, I do think that this has now manifested itself in to a problem. 10 years ago I thought the Tipper Gores and C. Deloros Tuckers of the world were crazy. Now as Iride the subways, listen to the radio and talk to young people in my own family some of what they are saying begins to have a certain appeal.. In some respects todays youth are getting their primary education not from school but in some cases from the music.

  • I couldnt agree with you more involvement is the key. If in fact ebonics is to be treated as a second language then the translation of it in to standard English should be taught to the PARENTS, so that they can reinforce the fact that ebonics is not appropriate in the work or school place.

    How can we expect a change in the current situation when parents keep looking for other people outside of their own homes to raise their children properly ?
    Should parents do a better job of monitoring the music their
    children are listening to ?
    (someone is both buying and listening to this music, who is
    watching the store ?)

  • I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE COMING FROM. THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND. I FEEL THAT EBONICS IS I GUESS THEIR NICE WAY TOONCE AGAIN STEREO-TYPE US UNDER A CANDY COATING! IF THIS IS THE CASE, AND THEY THINK IT'S A PROBLEM, THEN THAT MEANS WE WILL NEED AN "EBONICS" GUIDE/TEACHER FOR EVERY CULTURE IN THE WORLD. BY THEM GIVING US "EBONICS" ENGLISH IS NOT OURS! HMMMMMMM THINK ABOUT IT. HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT OUR LANGUAGE ISN'T THE REAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE? OR ANYONE ELSE'S FOR THAT MATTER! WE NEED TO STOP LETTING AMERICA TOY WITH US. WE NEED TO SPEAK OUT AND LET THEM KNOW HOW WE FEEL, AND STOP LETTING THIS MADDNESS PERSIST.


  • Let me clarify my previous post! The Oakland school boards foolish resolution has created a controversy that has shifted the focus away from the real problem - the failure of the education system. The current system doesn't meet the needs of students, and blacks have suffered more than others. The whole system needs to be changed. I didn't say to create "special programs" for blacks. I said to create new programs (that effectively teach the curriculum) using techniques from teachers. These programs would replace the current ineffective ones. Marva Collins is one of many teachers that have developed programs where students excel and develop pride & values. These programs are successful due in part to parent partcipation. Parents spend time with their children, and control & discuss what is watched on TV and heard on the radio. We need to get rid of bad teachers and reinvent the system! I really think we agree on this issue!!!

  • Ebonics.... How did they come up with that? ......In my opinion slang is not just for the black young people.It is for all the "wannabees" out there. Those that feel being cool is more important.All races included. It is a waste of time in our schools. Yes there are other important factors.If they want to reach the children better, then lower the classroom sizes.Put more thought into fixing the mess they have already created. Slang is ok with friends. Knowing it is not important for standardize testing or for fillingout a resume.If you keep it out of the schools then the children will not get business and pleasure confused. When in school, it is time for business.

    Who is watching the radio stations?
    If its not played, its not sold.


  • I only wish that "if it's not played then it's not sold". Because of the huge underground tape market that flourishes in many cities and because of word of mouth the music still finds it's way to it's intended audience.

  • Take Ice Cube (& I am a fan of his) on his debut solo album "Amerikka's Most Wanted" none of the songs on it could possibly be played on the radio. ...But it became a big hit anyway......but some of what you are saying is true, it does seem as though radio stations play a lot of stuff that just a few years ago would not have been allowed.

    Do you think that radio DJ's have any responsibilities with respect to this ?


  • Well let me see if I could make some type of connection between "Ebonics & Funk.Here Goes,the other night I was watching this show called Politically Incorrect.And the guess on this show were "Coolio and G.Gordon Libby two people from totally different ends of the social spectrum.And the topic of this discussion was Ebonics and guess what they were even pronouning the word differently.LOL

    Now we all know that "Ebonics" is a "TEACHING TOOL" alright so don't worry about some brotha coming into your the office where you work and saying "Yo man can a brotha get a job wit ya".

  • Now about the funk and ebonics,we all know if you listen to certain Blues, Jazz, R&B,and funk music it's riddled with ebonics.Hell that's the way a lot of artist back in the day got around the FCC.think about it.


  • I just skimmed through the post and it seems that everyone has pretty well covered all bases on the "Ebonics" issue. As for is being related to FUNK, YES the connection is there and very plain to see. FOOD for thought: hmmmmmm, just another way for the white man to hurt us in the job market. to expand on that. Imagine if you will a young, educated black man applying for a job with a major company. Only problem is that all through school, all he spoke and was taught to speak well was "Ebonics".Even though he may be better qualified for the position than all of the white applicants, he is denied the opportunity because the white man can't understand what he is saying, so naturally a white man gets the job. I know it sounds far-fetched, but to me, it looks like another way for the white man to keep us down.

  • Speaking of getting aroung the FCC...Listen to the old SWV and TLC songs...I sat down one day and actually listened to the words...I couldn't believe it! .................Amazing......

  • Radio DJs are out for ratings at any cost.... They would sell there souls to be number one. I am tired of listening to the radio and hearing a good tune and slamming beat and the words are going backwards or bleeped out . Either you are going to play it or not. For every version like that they should make a radio version. Some do. But there are others that do not.If they want the song played on the radio , they should make one. After all , there are a lot of young people listening to the radio too. Im not just talking about teenagers . I'm talking about the ones 10 and younger. The vulnerable age. I worry about what they are exposed to. They are forced to grow up early.Not fair!!!

  • Sometimes I wonder if some Blacks themselves use "ebonics" as a way of keeping themselves down. Everything you said in your post was correct (and deep down I think that everybody would agree).
    That being the case why would ANY Black person use "ebonics" outside of their own close network ?

  • You bring up a very important point...Although lots of us do tend to slip into slang from time to time..I think its very important to know when and where its appropriate. As Parents and Educators we need to realize that whats used on the neighborhood basketball court ( for example) is not appropriate for either the classroom or corporate america. I feel that this is a lesson that should be taught early in life..and carried on through life..And the lessons should start at HOME...


  • In my opinion it's time to get "back to basics". As adults we all know what the right thing to do is. After all thats how we were raisied !!

  • The longer we are willing to cry to the world that we are "victums" the longer we will be just that. One thing about the 70's was that whenever there was a problem that confronted us, we were willing to address it directly. Today it seems that all we do is whine !! I think that we all know what the solutions are on this issue (and I think that you have pointed out that the solution is in the home).

  • Some of us just don't want to accept the responsibility for the fact that we have done a poor job in preparing our children for life so........we want the goverment to do it for us !!

    "We the people mighty people of the sun.....in our hearts lie all the answers"

  • That is a very good way of putting it. It is improper english that they feel should be added to the school curriculm. Would it then bve fair to teach the kids of those parents that are pushing it? It has no place in the school system at all. If you can't speak the english that we all speak, then that is another problem, and should be looked at from a different point of view. If you really want to be correct, we aren't speak the correct english. We are just using a form that we can readily recognize an\mongst each other. What is that expression,' The Queens English' or something? This controversy will never die, and since it is now in the forefront of the media, we again will have something else to turn our tv channels from. The board as stated earlier has been overwhelmed by 'Ebonics' due to the diverse audience that we have. Is it because these people communicate this way, or were they raised this way? The answer is simple, be true to who you are and in time the others will realize what they are, or aren't doing.

  • I cannot believe that this is a possibility. All americans should learn the American and English language.

  • Your description is the best one I have see yet!! Not only did it make me smile, but rang very true for not only the children but adults as well. I advocate for special needs children, these are a few of the things I see wrong and why ebonic is strongly used by any race:
    1. Younger/teenager parents, whom have all but quit school to live an adult live.
    2. Diversed neighborhood, where everyone talk in slangs.
    3. Government controlling the homes of many parents ( welfare, new laws, laws the remove the right of the parents)
    4. Lack of community support for each other. ( Many don't even know their neighbors)
    5. More moms are in the workforce, to survive, to maintain a career, etc.

  • Very often, I hear that the children in question is behind from the start due to lack of leadership in the home but that still is passing the buck. Granted, it first start in the home but where I'm from a community raise a child by helping to monitor the child action when the parent can't. By DEMANDING that the child strive for the best and reach for the stars, yet always have respect for their elders. My neighborhood is also a liasion for each of the parents and only through talking with each other, community fairs that they all know what is expected of each child. Many time when I attend a school meeting for a child, the first thing I realize is the parent has no clue to the rule/bylaws of the school, what they can asks for and successfully obtain, lack the communications skills that is needed. As an advocator, my job is to make them aware of the rule, teach them the skills need to successfully walk out happy from such meeting, make them aware of resources, where, how, who can help them obtain it. Only then is my job done,,,because I have taught them how to use the power they had from the very beginning.
    (ohhhh, didn't realize I had became longwinded)
  • My question to everyone is : What is your solution to this problem, where children are in dire need of help, what would you like to see implemented ??

  • Happy to read you on this topic, as always........ your wisdom ring true... (The answer is simple, be true to who you are and in time the others will realize what they are, or aren't doing.)
  • As an advocator, first let me say that when children are tested within the school system, it's to that child's advantage that they are asked the questions in every form available (not saying that ebonics should be taught in school). Teachers need to have the knowledge of ebonics in order to teach the child the proper way of speaking. How else can they teach children if they are not aware of what the child is referring to ?? In the past, I requested second testing due to the fact of what the individual child's score and know the child personally, I know that something is wrong with the way they test children. The option is to give the child every advantage, not teach them ebonic by making sure the tests are as accurate as possible. What kind of plan would you/others would like to see implemented?


  • SORRY TO DISAGREE...BUT DISAGREE I MUST...FIRST OF ALL THE CONCEPT OF EBONICS HAS BEEN AROUND FOR YEARS...THIS IS NOTHING NEW...ONLY NOW IT HAS BEEN LABELED...THE CONCEPT THAT URBAN BLACK, GREEN, STRIPED OR POLKA DOTTED CHILDREN CAN ONLY BE TAUGHT TO SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH IF THEY ARE TAUGHT TO ASSOCIATE THEIR COMMON STREET SLANG WITH THAT PROPER ENGLISH IS OBSURD...IF ONE HAS MATRICULATED IN THE URBAN STREETS OR BEEN ASSAILED BY THE CONSTANT RHETORIC OF THE URBAN AND RURAL GHETTOS OF THIS COUNTRY ONE WOULD KNOW THAT THE STREET SLANG OR SO CALLED EBONICS IS NOT A PERMANENT FIXTURE...THE SLANG OF THE STREETS CONSTANTLY CHANGE...THE LANGUAGE OF THE STREETS TEN YEARS AGO IS NOT THE LANGUAGE OF THE STREETS TODAY AND TODAY'S STREET SLANG WILL NOT SURVIVE THE NEXT TEN YEARS...THEN THERE IS THE HISTORICAL FACTION...AFRICAN AMERICANS HAVE NO NATIVE LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH...WHEN BROUGHT TO THIS LAND AFRICANS SPOKE IN MANY TRIBAL TONGUES...
    BUT LIKE A BABY, WE ADHERED TO THE LANGUAGE SPOKEN AROUND US...IN THE SOUTH THIS LANGUAGE WAS BEING SPOKEN BY MANY EUROPEANS WHO THEMSELVES HAD NOT MASTERED THE TRUE AND PROPER ENGLISH...POOR PEOPLE WHO WERE FLEEING PERSECUTION AND DEVELOPING A NEW WAY OF LIFE FOR THEMSELVES...MANY OF GERMAN, IRISH, AND SCOTTISH DESCENT...BROKEN ENGLISH HAS BEEN HANDED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION...DIALECTIC VARIATIONS VARY FROM REGION TO REGION...AS FOR THE COMPARISON MADE OF "SANFORD AND SON"...THE SHOW WAS NOT FUNNY AT ALL...IT WAS AN INSULT TO BLACK PEOPLE AS "AMOS N' ANDY" WAS IN THE 50'S AND "MARTIN" IS IN THE 90'S...AND ANY INTELLIGENT PERSON WOULD ONLY HAVE TO VIEW THESE LAME-BRAINED CREATIONS TO SEE THAT THE SLANG USED IN EACH TIME PERIOD IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT...ONTHE OTHER HAND, I MUST SAY THAT AS AN EDUCATOR OF CHILDREN WHO, FOR WHATEVER REASON, ARE TRAPPED IN THE WORLD OF EBONICS.
    EDUCATORS MUST BE AWARE OF AND UNDERSTAND THIS LANGUAGE...IT'S LIKE SAYING THAT YOU ARE GOING TO TEACH ENGLISH TO A PERSON WHO SPEAKS ONLY CHINESE...IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND OR HAVE A WORKING KNOWLEDGE OF CHINESE, YOU ARE GOING TO BE FACED WITH A VERY HARD TASK...I TEACH MY KIDS BYCONSTANT CORRECTION AND PRACTICE...THEY EMULATE WHAT THEY SEE AND HEAR...ALSO, I LET THEM READ AND INTERPRET WORKS BY SUCH NOTED AUTHORS AS PAUL LAWRENCE DUNBAR AND COUNTEE CULLEN...THIS GIVES THEM A FEEL FOR THE LANGUAGE...THEY WANT TO LEARN THE CORRECT WAY...DON'T PIGEON HOLE THEM BY TELLING THEM THAT IT IS OKAY FOR THEM TO SPEAK EBONICS...IT IS ONLY OKAY IN CERTAIN INSTANCES...IN CLOSING, I MUST SAY THAT THIS LANGUAGE CANNOT BE SOLELY ATTRIBUTED TO THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE...YOU MENTIONED A WHITE PERSON TRYING TO SOUND BLACK ON THAT "SANFORD" SHOW AND EQUATING IT TO BLACKFACE...THAT WAS BECAUSE HE LOOKED SILLY TRYING TO DO SOMETHING HE WAS NOT FAMILIAR NOR COMFORTABLE WITH...I HAVE KNOWN MANY WHO WERE NOT BLACK BUT WERE VERY MUCH AT HOME WITH THIS STREET LANGUAGE...IT IS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL UPBRINGING...THE SAME THING WOULD BE TRUE OF AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WHO WAS NOT WELL VERSED IN ENGLISH...THIS IS WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DISPOSE OF...WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO BE VERSATILE IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE...REMEMBER, AMOS N' ANDY WERE WHITE UNTIL T.V..


  • AN URBAN GHETTO CHILD WHO LEARNED
    ENGLISH IN URBAN GHETTO SCHOOLS
    AND RECEIVED A DEGREE IN ENGLISH
    FROM AN AFRICAN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY....W/O EBONICS


  • On a couple of occasions now, I have heard comments by a female members of the Oakland school board. This lady made clear that she is not in favor of "teaching ebonics in the school." Her point is that teachers in schools where the preponderance of students grew up inhome atmospheres of ebonic communication should themselves (the teachers) be well versed in ebonics. I am an educator, and I agree with her. The very first obligation a teacher has to his/her students is to create a comfort zone for learning. If the teacher shows contempt or disrespect for what the students bring with them, the learning situation immediately suffers,and it does so in a crucial manner. This is not at all to say that I think ebonics should be a classroom tool for learning standard English. However, I do understand what this lady is after.

  • As an advocator for children, it's GREAT to see an educator speak on this "EBONIC" issue. Again, the media took a situation that could very much help the children that speak ebonics and made a GRAND issue about it. The issue itself appears to be more about federal dollars than
    educating the children. My question to you/anyone is :
    1.Should they have federal aid in order to teach the educators the language ?
    2. Why stop at teaching the child proper english when the household/communities speaks within the terms of ebonics ?

    "Why stop at teaching the child proper english when the household/communities speaks in terms of ebonics?"

  • I don't understand the question here. What would you suggest the children be taught? They come to school expert in ebonics. Any child by age five is "expert" in his/her native language. However, I have some difficulty consider- ing ebonics a full-blown language. It is English. When I came out of the South, I spoke Mississippi Delta English. Lots of people I met laughed at both my pronunciation and my usage (word choices, etc.). I was not happy about that.

  • I have a problem referring to ebonics as a language. It can better be described as a combination of slang, laziness, culture, & environment. In one of my earlier posts on this subject, I said that it is absurd to think that teachers must first learn improper english beforethey can teach proper english. And the culture part of ebonics doesn't relate to african heritage. It is improper english passed from generation to generation. There was a time when africans in America had no access to education and so their children heard improper english. Today, this language is classified by some as heritage, but is it??

    I think not! Today, hopefully, Africans have the same opportunities as whites. But these opportunities can not be taken advantage of if education is not equal. Accepting or tolerating ebonics (improper english) in school by africans and demanding that whites speak the "king's english" is unfair to Africans. I will repeat what I said earlier.
    I like the informality of ebonics and use it at times, but I am also glad that I learned english in school. How sad to someday hear someone at a press conference say, "Hi I be runnin' fo presden ada unita stae"






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