Tomorrow I’m teaching my Taiwanese students about Black English, also known as African American Vernacular English (AAVE), or Ebonics. For this I’m using Chapter 9 of Lippi-Green’s book, English with an Accent, which contains her essay, “The Real Trouble with Black English.”
In re-reading the following passage I found myself thinking about the whole Reverend Jeremiah Wright kerfuffle.
in spite of many years of empirical study which is established AAVE as a normally functioning spoken human language, its very existence is often doubted and denied by African and European-Americans alike. The real trouble with black English is not the verbal aspect system which distinguishes it from other varieties of US English, or the rhetorical strategies which draw such a vivid contrast, it is simply this: AAVE is tangible and irrefutable evidence that there is a distinct, healthy, functioning African-American culture which is not white and which does not want to be white. This is a state of affairs which is unacceptable to many. James Baldwin who wrote and spoke so eloquently on the issues at the heart of the racial divide in this country, put it quite simply: “the value [of] a black man is proven by one thing only – his devotion to white people”