Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Can't 'They' Learn to Talk Right?

Right being white, of course.

I didn't make it to the PCA this year after all, having busted my foot and my finances simultaneously (my insurance being the sad item that it is); I had intended to present my paper on RaceFail09 there, talking about why Characters of Color are under-represented in SF/F world and why Writers of Color are under-represented on the SF/F bookshelves and in the SF/F magazines.

I was to be on a panel with other papers on similar topics, including one being given by my buddy Zelda, who has been working for several years now on the effects of ignorance of or prejudice toward Black English among school teachers and administrators on the continued low literacy levels of black children in the Delta region of Arkansas.

Anyway, this paper (correct me if I'm wrong, Zelda!) was about how, rather than hyper-correcting and failing students out of the standard classroom, teachers could use knowledge of Black English to increase literacy in black students (who make a majority of students in the public schools in the Delta).

Sadly, since I wasn't there, Zelda was on her own when she was attacked by an elderly professor who was of the Black English isn't a language school of thought, who accused her of being a liberal professor filled with the bigotry of low expectations. (Not in those words.) She held her own, citing him linguists who know otherwise-- Zelda takes no shit off of no one -- but I feel bad anyway. If I had been there, at least we could have both argued with him.

All of by way of saying: Here, cool, look at this! (Hat tip Heebie at Unfogged)

The "up" as in "all up in my place" is one I have heard not only among my black students, but among my white students too. "Don't come getting all up in my Kool-Aid, now," being my personal favorite. But, as Zelda likes to remind my students when she comes to give the lecture on Black English to my HEL class each semester, most of them, whether they know it or not, actual speak a version of Black English too.

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