Segments in this Video

The Ebonics Controversy: Introduction (03:51)


The Oakland School Board is reviewing a resolution to incorporate Ebonics into the curriculum. Tony Brown introduces panelists Berleter Hall, Jacqueline Wolf, and Lisa Washington. Different articles call Ebonics genetically based, a dialect, and ignorance.

Original Resolution (04:54)

Hall identifies Ebonics as an inherited genetic language from the Niger-Congo region. Genetics in linguistics means "origin from" not a biological legacy. The resolution was written for the school board, not the public; the media omitted "Nigritic" from the term Ebonics.

Support for Ebonics (04:45)

The School Board rewrote the resolution to explain the link to the Niger-Congo region. Washington describes how black children have not been learning what they should and should not face demoralization. Tom Loveless believes teachers should pretend that speaking non-standard English is fine.

Against Ebonics (02:43)

Jacqueline Wolf expected her students in prison to speak and read in Standard English. Good oral and written communication skills are necessary to excel in a career. Nigritic Ebonics has also been termed Black English.

Nigritic Ebonics (04:19)

Children should not be discriminated against if they speak a different language. Parents with children who speak Nigritic Ebonics should receive additional educational resources. Washington accepts a child as he or she enters the classroom.

Educational Philosophy (04:41)

Washington does not correct students because she feels that is demeaning to a child. A teacher does not need to be an expert in the subject matter in order to teach it. The panelists debate self-esteem, ESL classes, and Ebonics.

Credits: The Ebonics Controversy (00:25)

Credits: The Ebonics Controversy

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The Ebonics Controversy

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The Oakland, California School Board’s (1997) resolution to incorporate Black English into its curriculum has driven an even deeper wedge between educators and the general public. Seeming to offend as many Blacks as Whites, however, the Ebonics issue struggled to find a sizeable advocacy group. Should Ebonics be given a chance or simply passed off as ludicrous? What is "Nigrit Ebonics?" Is Black English a language or a dialect? Is language genetic? This program from Tony Brown's Journal explores these issues.

Length: 26 minutes

Item#: BVL167345

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

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