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ERIC Number: EJ915377
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1534-8458
The Scholar Who Coined the Term Ebonics: A Conversation with Dr. Robert L. Williams
Yancy, George
Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, v10 n1 p41-51 2011
On December 18, 1996, a controversial resolution was passed by the Board of Education of Oakland, California that recognized the legitimacy and significance of Ebonics in the cultural lives and in the education of African American children. The resolution, which was eventually amended, particularly around the implications that Ebonics was a "genetically based language," created a firestorm of national debate, a great deal of media attention, and much misunderstanding. The core of this debate was not only in regard to how African American children might be effectively educated given that their primary language was not English, but also in regard to the issue of their humanity and treatment as equals as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This article presents an interview with Dr. Robert L. Williams, the scholar who coined the term "Ebonics" in 1973. The specific themes that evolved out of this interview are many and insightful, including the: (1) significance of Ebonics vis-a-vis the presuppositions of the "Deficit Model School"; (2) distinction between Ebonics, dialect, and "Black English"; (3) importance of Ebonics as transcending a discussion of formal linguistics and how it is related to questions of cultural identity; (4) relationship between Ebonics and the perceived lack of language sophistication on the part of African American children; (5) link between language, cultural capital, and self-determination; (6) connection between Ebonics and the Black underclass; (7) broader positive and negative outcomes of the Oakland school board's Ebonics resolution; and (8) issue of educational failures vis-a-vis African American children. (Contains 1 footnote.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A