Black English Essays and Research Papers

Instructions for Black English College Essay Examples

Title: Analysis of If Black English Isn t a Language Then Tell Me What Is

  • Total Pages: 3
  • Words: 1017
  • Sources:0
  • Citation Style: APA
  • Document Type: Essay
Essay Instructions: In the book Ten on Ten by Robert Atwan, analyze the essay by James Baldwin "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?" Do not summarize the essay. Be sure to use quotes from the essay to support your analysis. Be sure to discuss the logical soundness of the author?s case by critically examining the line of reasoning and the use of evidence.

First in reading the argument, you should pay attention to:
? writing style
? how is the argument put together
? what is offered as evidence, support, or proof
? what is explicitly stated, claimed, or concluded
? what is assumed or supposed, perhaps without justification or proof
? what is not stated, but necessarily follows from what is stated

In addition, you should consider the structure of the argument; the way in which these elements are linked together to form a line of reasoning; that is, you should recognize the separate, sometimes implicit steps in the thinking process and consider whether the movement from each one to the next is logically sound. In tracing this line, look for transition words and phrases that suggest that the author is attempting to make a logical connection (e.g., however, thus, therefore, evidently, hence, in conclusion).

You are not being asked to discuss whether the statements in the argument are true or accurate; instead, you are being asked whether conclusions and inferences are validly drawn from the statements. You are not being asked to agree or disagree with the position stated; instead, you are being asked to comment on the thinking that underlies the position stated. You are not being asked to express your own views on the subject being discussed; instead, you are being asked to evaluate the logical soundness of the argument by the author.

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Works Cited

Baldwin, James. "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?"

New York Times on the Web 29 July 1979. 20 Dec. 2004

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Title: The Oakland School Board Ebonics Resolution and the Controversy over Ebonics

  • Total Pages: 9
  • Words: 3330
  • References:20
  • Citation Style: None
  • Document Type: Research Paper
Essay Instructions: Dear writer,
the term paper is supposed to be a paper with a Linguistic topic, which is to discuss the Oakland Schoolboard proposal of 1996 and the controversial debate about Ebonics that followed. The Outline or Table of Content is as follow:

1 Introduction
2 Definitions
2.1 Dialect
2.1.1 Linguistic Definition of Dialects
2.1.2 Common Misconceptions of the Public on Dialects
2.2 Ebonics
3 The Oakland School Board Controversy
3.1 Summary of the Proposal
3.2 Background of the Proposal
3.3 Intentions and Goals of the Proposal
3.4 The Ebonics Debate following the Proposal
3.4.1 Negative Portrayal of Ebonics by the Media and Newspapers
3.4.2 Positive Portrayal of Ebonics by Linguists and Scholars
4 Conclusion
5 Works Cited/Bibliography

In the following I have described as detailed as possible how the paper is to be structured and what each topic point should contain. I will provide you with around 30 sources (articles, book excerpts, journals, website prints) that are crucial for the understanding of the topic and should be used as points of reference in the paper itself as much as possible. Please do not use any other sources but the one I provide! Here is a summary of what the paper should consist of. The thesis can be found in the introduction as is basically “Language prejudice surrounding the Oakland Schoolboard Proposal was not only fostered by the Resolutions wording but also by the general perceived opinion the public has about the notion of what a dialect is and the way Ebonics was portrayed in the newspaper, as opposed to what linguists say about dialects. And moreover, the language prejudice is in fact a cultural and racial prejudice that see African Americans as a stigmatized group and thus perceives their speech behavior as stigmatized as well” (see “The Study of Social Dialects in American English - Fasold & Wolfram” page 23). As I said, all of this can be found in the resources I send! Please read all of them and use them to develop and argue out the thesis and discuss the paper topic. Also read the Conclusion I have loosely formulated so you know what the body part is to consist of. If you have ANY questions regarding the thesis or content, please contact me and I will try to help you as best as possible!

1 Introduction

The controversy about Ebonics did not only arise due to the Resolutions problematic wording, as that was soon revised, but also about the difference in what people's opinion about dialect in relation to Standard English and how Linguists view it. Adding to that, the portrayal of Ebonics in various Newspapers about Ebonics following the Oakland Schoolboard proposal, which contained negative value judgements and ridiculed Ebonics further, fostering the public's opinion about the African American Vernacular as “slang” and “lazy English”.
Language prejudice was not only fostered by the Resolutions wording but also by the general perceived opinion the public has about the notion of what a dialect is and the way Ebonics was portrayed in the newspaper, as opposed to what linguists say about dialects.
Not only the unfortunate wording and word choice if the Resolution caused the heated debate, but also judgmental, misguided media coverage of the Oakland controversy and Ebonics and the public's common misconceptions about what a dialect, and thus Ebonics, have led people to miss the true goals and intentions of the Oakland Board proposal, what was at the heart of the resolution: the need to recognize that there is a difference between African American students and to acknowledge it as a DIFFERENCE and not a DEFICIT, and, since “schools have failed many African American students and argues for linguistically aware teaching techniques” (John Rickford) and to find a way to help them in their education process.
So in the end, the Ebonics debate was sadly turned into “another opportunity for racial prejudice” (Karl Teeter at ) and “in fact, what's happening is not a national conversation about the value of Black language - it's a national conversation about the value of Black culture.”

2 Definitions

Under this heading please give definitions on what a dialect is and the term Ebonics.

2.1 Dialect
2.1.1 Linguistic Definition of Dialects

the definition of dialect can be found e.g. in my sources “Dialectology by -J. K. Chambers and P. Trudgill” on pages 3-5, in “Wolfram, Walt. Dialects in Schools and Communities”, in “How Linguists Approach the Study of Language and Dialect “ and various other sources. Also, for more information on Dialects please see the book by Walt Wolfram “American English: dialects and variation” on google books, especially Chapters 1.1 Defining Dialect, 1.2 Dialect: The Popular Viewpoint and 1.3 Dialect Myths and Reality:

2.1.2 Common Misconceptions of the Public on Dialects

summarise the common misconceptions that the publics and non-linguists often have on the notion of dialect. This can be found also in the sources mentioned already above and in “The Dialect Dilemma” and most importantly in “Dialects - Language Policy and Public Knowledge” and in the above mentioned book by Walt Wolfram in the Chapters 1.2 Dialect: The Popular Viewpoint and 1.3 Dialect Myths and Reality.
Also, see page 65 in “Language Diversity, School Learning, and Closing Achievement Gaps- A Workshop Summary” QUOTE: “Wolfram said, the assumption in U.S. society is that qualities of certain dialects are not desirable, especially if associated with certain minority groups or geographical regions (see Rickford and Wolfram, 2009). Avoiding dialect awareness only perpetuates such negative attitudes about dialect, in his view, while limiting access to an approach that could not only benefit student achievement but also serve a valuable purpose in its own right of educating children about the structure of language, views on how it emerges, and how their own variety fits.”
So the prejudices that the common folk has about dialects in general is intensified through the prejudices that are still harboured against the African American race as a cultural group and race, which was a contributing factor why the Oakland schoolboard controversy got so out of hand. Then lead right into the “dialect” Ebonics...

2.2 Ebonics

short definition of Ebonics/ African American Vernacular English and just two or three examples of why it is regarded as slang and inferior to standard American English. Then, write about how in actuality Linguists say that AAVE is just as rule-governed as any other dialect or language in English and “numerous books have been published that unequivocally demonstrate that African American English is not slang, nor is it broken English, nor is it inferior to standard English, but a variety with its own history, rules of grammar, discourse practices and rich oral literature that is worthy of respect. Nonetheless, many people still refuse to accept this, because this would mean accepting the humanity and integrity of a people that America has denied from its inception. Racist diehards have seized upon the Oakland decision as just another opportunity to disparage and deride African Americans, this time under the cloak of linguistics.” !!! <- QUOTE from the article “Ebonics and All That Jazz”)
-> see various articles, for example “Black English in a Place Called Waterloo”, “Ebonics and All That Jazz”

Then, lead right into what the Oakland decision actually entailed...

3 The Oakland School Board Controversy

On December 18, 1996, the Oakland, California school board passed a controversial resolution recognizing the legitimacy of "Ebonics" " i.e. what mainstream linguists more often term African American Vernacular English" as a language. The resolution set off a maelstrom of media criticism and ignited a hotly discussed national debate (I took this from wikipedia but just something short like that and then go into the content of the proposal)...

3.1 Background of the Proposal

Here state some possible reasons of why the Oakland Schoolboard proposed something like this in the first place, such as that African-American school children are misrepresented in school and education and often lagg behind other pupils (See: “"ARTICLE Testing while black"- standards-based school reform and African American learners.” -> QUOTE: Similarly, at the heart of many standards-based school reform initiatives are disastrous academic outcomes experienced by African American, Hispanic, and impoverished learners as measured by standardized tests.) More articles focusing on this issue are “Geneva Smitherman - Language and African Americans- Movin on up a Lil Higher” and “Teaching African American English Forms to Standard American English-Speaking Teachers- Effects on Acquisition, Attitudes, and Responses to Student Use”. Also, there is a QUOTE in the article “Something Every Teacher and Counselor Needs to Know about African-American Children” that says: “Some, seemingly exasperated by the recurring academic under-achievement of many African-American children, have attempted to explain this problem by suggesting that African-American children are simply inherently inferior, mentally, to their White European-American, Asian, Latino, and even economically disadvantaged peers (Herrnstein & Murray, 1994).” -> this might have been another reason for the Oakland Resolution, as one part in the revised resolution states on of the goals as “for the combined purposes of facilitating the acquisition and mastery of English language skills, while respecting and embracing the legitimacy and richness of the language patterns”. In the article “The Dialect Dilemma” there is a QUOTE that also says: “"That's the challenge for our schools and educational institutions - to teach kids to speak the language of education without denigrating the speaker."”
Also see the chapter The Historical Context in “Ebonics and Educational Policy- Some Issues for the Next Millennium”.

3.2 Summary of the Proposal

summarise the contents, and comment on the difference between the first and revised proposal. The wording of the original resolution caused a great deal of misunderstanding, which fueled the controversy. On January 15, Oakland's school board passed an amended resolution. The original resolution used the phrase "genetically based" which was popularly misunderstood to mean that African Americans have a biological predisposition to a particular language, while in fact it was referring to genetic in the linguistic sense. Basically just shortly state what the first and second resolution SAID. And then lead into the next point, which is about what the resolution actually MEANT...

3.3 Intentions and Goals of the Proposal: What's at the Heart of it

Here state the TRUE intentions and goals that was behind the Oakland Proposal, something that was neglected often times through the media or misunderstood.

3.4 The Ebonics Debate following the Proposal

Two camps, divided opinions about Ebonics, everyone wanted to chip in their two cents, just a small lead in that says that there was a controversy that followed the proposal and what the two “sides” were, which is...

3.4.1 Negative Portrayal of Ebonics by the Media and Newspapers

Misinformation propagated by North American newspapers, alone, includes unjustified negative value judgements and the belief that Ebonics is simply slang.
(see for example these newspaper articles and some of the misunderstandings and derogatory comments they state:
1. “NEWSPAPER ARTICLE Ebonics just a bad dream that's returned” QUOTE “Ebony and phonics are no "bridge to literacy" for black children, as some supporters who want to officially place Ebonics in the Oakland schools would have us believe. It is a bridge that leads nowhere and sentences disadvantaged children to destitute lives confined in a cruddy cell or on seedy street corner.” -> misinterpretation of the Resolution that it wants children to be taught in Ebonics when in reality they are to learn Standard English through a new concept, through implementing their “home language”. Another QUOTE to show that misunderstanding: “Ebonics for what purpose? To keep them ignorant? Forgive the cliche, but two wrongs don't make a right.”

2. “NEWSPAPER ARTICLE `Ebonics' earns a failing grade” -> includes various public opinions about Ebonics that show the misinterpretation of the issue at stake.

3. “NEWSPAPER ARTICLE The trouble with Ebonics” QUOTE “Targeting only the dialect spoken by urban blacks in some ways is discriminatory. And to accord language status only to that dialect ignores the inherent value of other dialects. Advancing Ebonics as a separate language egregiously ignores the reality of America.” -> here, they ignore the fact that African American kids have long been proven to do worse in school than their peers, and that their dialect that they bring to school is indeed a factor. Another QUOTE from this article that is derogatory towards Ebonics: “While it is noble that some want to recognize the language some of us in the 'hood speak, this Ebonics stuff is mostly poppycock.” and “They don't need adults with fancy or exotic-sounding neologisms adding to their troubles.” -> apparently, the author did not have very much knowledge about what Ebonics really is or means.)
-> anyway, take the main ideas of that article to show in what ways the Oakland resolution was misunderstood and to depict how, through negative portrayals of Ebonics, that was mostly based on the misunderstanding of the Resolution or simply on prejudice and misinformed journalists, the newspaper helped in further strengthening the public's opinion about Ebonics as “bad” and about dialects as something inferioir to “standard” English.
Rather than focus on the intentions and goals of the proposal and clarifying the issue that was underlying it, the newspaper concentrated rather on the Ebonics issue and guided the public's opinion and views by providing misinformation and in a way helped to make people see Ebonics as slang through various articles published in the months after the proposal.
Basically giving examples of some of the ridiculing and derogatory comments in the media in the course of this debate that characterized Ebonics as "bad English", "slang", "sloppy speech" etc. -> please use citations from Newspaper articles and other documents on the issue that I will provide!

3.4.2 Positive Portrayal of Ebonics by Linguists and Scholars

Use the Scholarly articles and emails/speeches/views of Linguists such as William Labov, Walt Wolfram, Dennis Baron, Karl Teeter and Carolyn Temple Adger (I will send resources where all of those articles can be found) and their statements on the African-American Vernacular English in schools and their support of the goals of the resolution.
1. “Views of linguists and anthropologists on the Ebonics Issue” QUOTE: “This resolution is not about teaching black English, but about the best way of teaching standard English. The children the board is concerned about have learned Black English at home, a linguistic variety that has many differences from standard English. In order to teach them standard English, the board has rightfully concluded that teachers need to understand and be able to teach children the differences between these two linguistic varieties. It has also rightfully concluded that Black English is not just some random form of "broken-down English" that is intrinsically inferior to standard English, but is rather a speech variety with its own long history, its own logical rules of grammar, discourse practices that are traceable to West African languages, and a vibrant oral literature that is worthy of respect.” -> gives the Oakland schoolboard validity!
And another QUOTE “Whether Ebonics is a separate language or not in any technical sense is not really what I think educators are concerned with here.” -> states that the public debate on Ebonics missed what was at the heart of the matter!
And another QUOTE: “The Oakland Board is trying to promulgate a new set of political ideas about AAE as a legitimate form of speech, partly for the sake of African-American pride, but mainly for the sake of teaching standard English in an emotionally positive way.” -> some journalist only focused on the part that the Resolution wanted to give African Americans a reason to be “falsely” pride of their language and saw that as something bad, and missed the point that a) developing pride in their language might be good for the children and even help them in being more responsive to learning another dialect, meaning standard English and b) this was NOT the main point of the resolution!
Also see “Testimony by Linguist William Labov on the Ebonics Debate”, “Thomas T. Field and Dennis Baron on the Ebonics Issue”, "Linguist John R. Rickford's clarifying some misinterpretations of Ebonics" etc.

-> you can also combine those two viewpoints, meaning that you give an example of misunderstanding by the media or public and then directly follow with a fitting statement by a linguist debunking that misconception, if possible.

4 Conclusion - What can be learned from the Ebonics controversy?

Present a conclusion of the findings and sum it all up in an interesting way.

For example, the Oakland board's proposal is a perfect example for the right and good intentions that were gone about in the wrong way. Due to the at some parts unfortunate wordings and phrases in the initial resolution, the Oakland school board almost invited critics of Ebonics and the media to take it the wrong way and spark a national debate about African American Vernucalur English, while the most important goal of the resolution, to find a way to better support and promote African American students, faded into the background. Even though this issue was later repeatedly addressed by linguists who had understood the intentions of the resolution even the first time around, and their efforts to clarify the issue and make the public understand the true intentions and why the Oakland school board had valid points that were supported through linguistic research, the damage had been done and “"No matter how many times we explained that genetically based means `having its origins in,' it was taken to mean something else," Superintendent Carolyn Getridge told the Associated Press “ (QUOTE in “NEWSPAPER ARTICLE Scholar disputes Ebonics link to African dialects- No genetic tie, he says, just slang”). Once the public had build its opinion, and had been reassured multiple times by various newspapers of that being a rightful opinion, the revised Oakland resolution and the Linguists' remarks did little to make people understand the issue. And maybe they did not want to understand. Deep-rooted prejudices not only against Ebonics, but probably against African American culture and society as a whole might have prevented the public to look at the debate from a neutral point of view, as linguists and anthropologists can (See the article “Ebonics and All That Jazz” QUOTE: “most pundits had already decided what they believed; they were saying, “Don't confuse me with the facts, I've already made up my mind.” And they wouldn't change their minds even if they were presented with the linguistic facts, because the controversy over Ebonics is about more than language; it is about politics.”)
The Oakland resolution was an important step into the right direction, one that linguists have long recognized but old deep-seated misconceptions and continuing misinformation provided by the media and newspapers about the African American language AND their culture have so far hindered any real advancement in the direction the Oakland resolution had hoped for: the need to reform certain aspects of education and dialect awareness in both the public and children in school (see: “Geneva Smitherman - Language and African Americans- Movin on up a Lil Higher” page 186 QUOTE: “For the sake of all children, it is time to act in ways that reflect genuine valuation of language diversity and to implement policies fostering multilingualism and dialect awareness.”) So maybe the issue can be to be unfurled backwards: if we assume, as previously mentioned, that the negative associations with Ebonics stems from an already negative view on the general African American culture, the involvement of linguists in educating the public on language varieties and dialect could not only lead to an improvement in African American children's performance in school simultaneously “clear” Ebonics' name and through that, in the long run, even the perceptions of African American culture. With fourteen years passed since the Oakland Schoolboard Resolution and the U.S. with Barack Obama having elected the first president of African American heritage, American might be ready for this step.
Thus, the debate about teaching Ebonics in American secondary and post-secondary schooling was and continues to be essential to the cultural fabric of education in America and everyone must work together to build a better future for a well-informed - all in aspects of language, culture, race - and diverse America.

I've formulated almost all of the Introduction and Conclusion already so you have an idea what the middle part should consist of, meaning what thesis and conclusion should be supported through the main body, and I have tried to already give some examples that you can use in some paragraphs. I will upload or sent via Email a variety of resources! They should give you an overview over the whole Ebonics issue and the Oakland schoolboard and provide all the resources necessary for this paper. You do not have to use ALL of them but it is important that you only use the sources that I provide in the paper, not any other sources. Like I said, everything you need is in the sources I will sent or upload, so you do not need any additional sources. If you feel like you are missing something please contact me first and we can talk about it, but like I said, I will provide you with over 30 articles, book excerpts and website prints that are sufficient to get an insight into the topic and as references for this paper! Thanks :-)

P.S. Please use MLA citation style for the Works Cited as well as the in-text citations in parentheses, which should use the format authorname, date (year), and page numbers e.g. (Wolfram 1974: 123)!

Thank you!
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Excerpt From Essay:


Coleman, Robin R. Means and Daniel, Jack L. Mediating Ebonics. Journal of Black Studies,

Vol. 31, No. 1 (Sep., 2000), pp. 74-95. Sage Publications, Inc.

. Accessed: 06/07/2010.

Fillmore, Charles J. 2010. A linguist looks at the Ebonics debate. Center for Applied

Linguistics (CAL). . Accessed:


Foster, Michele n.d. Ebonics and All That Jazz: Cutting through the politics of linguistics, education, and race. The Quarterly. pp. 7-8; 10-11.

Fox, Steven 1997. The controversy over Ebonics. The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 79, No. 3. pp.

237-240. . Accessed: 06/07/2010.

Hinton, Leanne 1997. Views of linguists and anthropologists on the Ebonics issue. UC

Berkeley, Compiled by Leila Monaghan of Pitzer College for the February 1997 Society

for Linguistic Anthropology column. .

Accessed: 06/07/2010.

Perry, Theresa and Delpit, Lisa 1998, also eds. The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African-American Children. Boston MA: Beacon Press. p. iii. Splete, H. 2005. Technology can extend the reach of a bully: Cyber bullying by girls, who

"share so much ... when they are friends," can be particularly devastating. Family Practice News. International Medical News Group. 2005. Retrieved July 19, 2010 from HighBeam Research: . Accessed:

06/07/2010. Sulentic, Margaret-Mary 2001. Black English in a place called Waterloo. Multicultural Education. Volume: 8. Issue: 4. Caddo Gap Press; Provided by ProQuest LLC p: 24+. Wright, Richard L. 1998. The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 67, No. 1. pp. 5-15.

. Accessed: 06/07/2010.

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Title: i write a compare contrast essay teaching style teachers reading passages Me Talk Pretty One day Sedaris Nobody Mean More Me Than And The Future Life Of Willie Jordan June Jordan i reading passages i upload In introduction titles author's short summary reading passage

  • Total Pages: 2
  • Words: 688
  • Works Cited:0
  • Citation Style: APA
  • Document Type: Essay
Essay Instructions: i have to write a compare and contrast essay about the teaching style of the teachers between two reading passages: "Me Talk Pretty One day" by Sedaris and " Nobody Mean More to Me Than you And The Future Life Of Willie Jordan" by June Jordan. ( i have to use only the reading passages that i upload)

In introduction, there are two titles and author's name and short of summary of each reading passage. Also i have to write a thesis statement. i want to write the difference about the teaching style of the teachers between the articles.

In Body, i have to use a quote ( MLA form) from the two reading passages for each paragraph. (->this is important)

I suggest my thought about the teaching style between the articles

I think the teaching style of two teachers in the passages is differnt ( for exmaple, teacher of Sedaris is
rude and sarcastic but Jun Jordan is nice, pleasent, cares), also the results of two methods are different(
Sedaris realize that teacher's method is good end of the class, on the other hand, the students in the Jun jordan's essay didnt understand the importance of the Black English and society didnt accept the Black English in the Jun Jordan' reading passage)

Body1 : is about the teaching style of the teacher and the result regardless of the teaching style in Sedaris's essay ( short summary about the teacher + quote to explain the teacher + meaning of quote + transition sentence)

Body2: is about the teaching style of the teacher and the result regardless of the teaching style in Jordan's essay (short summary about the teacher+ quote to explain the teacher+ meaning of quote+ transition sentence)

Body3: result + explain how the teaching styles are different. + my opinion(i want to write my opinion that i prefer the teaching style of june jordan + why sedaris's teacher is unpleasent to me- because she is sarcastic and a little but rude)

Conclusion : paraphrasing is important

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Excerpt From Essay:
Works Cited:


Jordan, June. "Nobody Mean More to Me than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan." Harvard Educational Review. Vol 58, No. 3. Aug 1988.

Sedaris, David. "Me Talk Pretty One Day." Retrieved online:

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