The term "Ebonics" exploded onto the mainstream media in 1996 due to a controversial resolution by the Oakland school board recognizing Vernacular Black English in their efforts to teach their inner-city youth. This book offers some well-needed definitions and defenses of Ebonics as a legitimate language and grammar system of West African origin that should be understood by teachers. As Lisa Delpit writes, "The teacher's job is to provide access to the national 'standard' as well as to understand the language the children speak sufficiently to celebrate its beauty."
The Real Ebonics Debate details the history of Ebonics (a name combining the words "ebony" and "phonics") since 1973, including the Eurocentric bias in determining what language is and the American racism and coded media phrases that mark the debate. The book will be crucial to the understanding of this controversial issue for years to come. Along with famous essays and poetry by Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, the most important documents in this collection are copies of the actual Oakland Ebonics Resolution and the Ebonics Resolution Revision, which stated, "The superintendent ... shall immediately devise and implement the best possible academic program for the combining purposes of facilitating the acquisition and mastery of English language while respecting and embracing the legitimacy and the richness of the language patterns." --Eugene Holley Jr.
From School Library Journal
YA-Perry and Delpit invited a dozen scholars and practicing classroom teachers to contribute essays on the topic of "Power, Language, and the Education of African-American Children." In addition to these contributors, the editors include pieces by James Baldwin and Paul Laurence Dunbar; relevant full-text resolutions and policies from the Oakland, CA, school board, whose Ebonics Resolution in 1996 opened a national debate; and interviews. After setting the scene, the book is divided into sections that examine the role language plays in a developing student's life and in the power structure of the society; how teachers have used their own language skills (which include listening and understanding as well as speaking and correcting) to enfranchise their students; the ways white America has interpreted the use of Ebonics among African-American children and in adult culture; and when, where, how, and perhaps why journalists across the country misrepresented the Oakland Ebonics Resolution. This is a powerful, accessible and valuable volume not only for teachers and those who hold themselves to the duty of providing educational opportunity for all American children, but also for teens who are looking to understand their own language experiences and those of their classmates.Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.