Why is Black Ignorance Accpetable?

The other day a white woman that I know was complaining that she was called racist because she said "black people speak their own language." She was referring to ebonics of course. Now this woman is an English teacher, and if most of her white students spoke the "language" that blacks illegibly do, she would call it bad grammar and correct them. Then, why is it acceptable for blacks to speak this way. (This reminds me of that scene in Roots where the blonde-haired person asks her father why don't they teach blacks to read. If you remember this scene, you know what I'm talking about.)

I'm sure many of my brothers and sisters out there when they have been bestowed the honor of being told that they are "articulate" or that they "speak so well" as if just because I'm black, I shouldn't be able to put a sentence together. However, I'm not...really bothered by these ignorant people stereotyping me. I'm more concerned by the Pygmalion effect of it. When you live in a society where most of the members expect you to be uneducated, how does it influence your life? How does a child develop in a world where most of the people think that being ignorant is proper and right for him? Once one thinks of it this way, these passing remarks become much more serious because people generally fulfill the expectations that others have of them.

But back to the original question. Why is black ignorance acceptable? When we hear about failing white schools, everyone gets in an uproar, but when this happens to black schools, no one cares because it is to be expected. Black schools barely get any funding because putting any effort in them is seen as a waste. Of course, it is unacceptable to treat white schools with this same apathy. People have no problem treating blacks this way because they want blacks to be uneducated. The United States feels threaten by educated blacks, which is why they propagate the idea that blacks are supposed to be ignorant. They will do everything in their power to ensure that blacks stay this way.

However, the ultimate question is how can we change this?

First, I think blacks need to invest much more in their children than they do now. Sending away a child to a public school may be fine for a white person, but it frankly isn't good enough for a black person today. Black people have to work twice as hard for half of what white people get, which is why the school that children are sent to must be chosen very carefully. I believe that children should be sent to private schools or be home-schooled. Making sacrifices to ensure that your child receives a proper education is worth the effort.


Deb said...

Hey! I stumbled upon your blog (and many others I'd not read) while scrolling through Afronary.net. I've thoroughly enjoyed your insights on all your other posts, but thought I'd comment here first since I'm from SC and have a particular - and different - sensitivity when it comes to the "Ebonics" discussion.

"The other day a white woman I know was complaining that she was called racist because she said "black people speak their own language..."

Though I don't know all the context in which the comment was made, I get the feeling, as you write it, that it wasn't complimentary. Sadly for her, if it were, she would have been right, though I might add at the end, "...
until it has been ethnically cleansed out of them."

The Sea Islands of SC and GA are home to us Black descendants of slaves often derisively called by Blacks, "Gullah/Geechie" people for the "broken English" most of us from my generation and before spoke before we learned the "King's English." It was a nickname I used to not be proud of throughout 4 years of college at my HBCU in AL. But I'm older, and much wiser now.

The history of SC, having been one of the "original 13s," is full of European linguistic influences coupled with the different dialects brought to these shores by West African slaves. Gullah is a combination of those influences and dialects. I can't tell you how many people from England and Scotland, as well as several African countries whose conversations have caught my ear because I heard words/phrases similar to, or even the same as, those we've used at home. Our accents are even laden with those sounds once we've mastered the King's English! No matter how polished, there's always something that is a dead-giveaway. We know us, when we meet us that's for sure!

The reason the amendment in the 1996 Oakland Ebonics controversy raised such a stink was because it included language that said: "that African Americans are biologically predisposed toward a particular language through heredity; that speakers of Ebonics should qualify for federally-funded programs traditionally restricted to bilingual populations and that students would be taught in Ebonics."

From the three I listed, it's easy to see why a whole lot of people - Black and white - were more than a little warm!

When you start tellin' Black folk we're GENETICALLY PREDISPOSED to NOT being able to learn English - that IS a furor-deserving insult! And when you tell us you will instead, NOT TEACH our children in The King's English, thereby crippling them further as they learn to navigate this world - that's a justified "Get Rev. Jackson moment! And finally, when you start tellin' white folk that their tax dollars are going to fund yet ANOTHER minority's inability to speak English (Latinos and ESL) - you WILL hear from them - loudly and en masse!

I get, and agree with your point - good gramar should be spoken in school (AND, when conducting business or medical tmreatment for that matter). And, an English teacher, of all people, should ensure that happens. That being said, though, I do not agree speaking ebonics (or Spanish) = ignorance. IMO,that's more of the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy-influenced thinking into which we've been born that breeds Black self-hatred and some of the assimilation to which you alluded in both parts of your "Black People Have No Pride" pieces (wherein you said, "I dont even think this problem came so much from slavery..." How could assimilation not come from slavery? Never mind, I'll comment about that on that post. Apologize for being so long-winded!).

Ignorance has been defined for us by the WSCP Bot, and we've "assimilated" their meaning into our own thoughts about each other. Malcolm also asked, "Who are You?"


I think it was a great question.

Blurred Orange said...

I agreed with some of your points...but I had a few thoughts about how you thought acceptance of ignorance could be changed.

1. The last time I checked, all schools within the same district or school system receive the same amount of funds. But, many high performing public schools, in my city at least, charge at least four hundred dollars for student fees, while many lower performing schools charge substantially less or nothing at all--considering what they believe the parents will spend.

2. Private schools or home schooling don't always equal quality education.
In the case of homeschooling,how can a supposedly uneducated group be able to properly instruct the next generation?While some private schools may have reputable names or affiliations and are known for instilling discipline in students, you will never truly know the academic stats on the school--private schools are not required by law to release test scores and the majority choose not to.

3. If you say that the United States is threatened by educated blacks and doesn't want blacks to succeed, I'm assuming that you are talking about any U.S citizens who aren't black. How can you advocate sending children to only private schools as opposed to public schools, when the majority of the most academically reputable are affiliated with Catholicism and are run by whites?

4. Question: What exactly do you mean when you say sending your children away may be fine for a white person but not a black person?

The Black Bot said...

Thanks for your comment, Deb. It was very thoughtful. I did not mean to imply that assimilation didn't come from slavery. I did acknowledge that. I was referring to our continuous deliberate effort to be part of white culture.

Thanks for adding your thoughts, Blurred Orange. This post was made based on my personal experience. I have never attended a public school, and was either in a Christian school or home schooled. From my experience, I have faith that Black children would benefit if they did they had a similar experiences. The bottom line is that parents should put more passion in their children's education. Just because a child is home schooled doesn't mean that his parents have to instruct him. Today kids can get an education online without the bad influence of public schools.
It's not that difficult to find a good private school. Just look at the parents, kids, and overall environment and you can tell if you should put your should be enrolled. Monitoring the child's performance and behavior at the school is also a great indicator. If the school is not making the child grow, it's time to move on. All of the schools I went to required annual standardized testing every year. When I was at one school, my scores weren't what I wished, so I was moved to another school where they became higher.
Private schools are superior to black schools simply for that reason. They're white, therefore, they offer the best education. During segregation, schools with large white populations were more advanced than those with a black majority, just as it is today, which is why a parent shouldn't allow his or her child to stay in such an environment. Sorry, I didn't complete my sentence at the end. I meant it may be fine for them to send them to a public school.

Deb said...

"was referring to our continuous deliberate effort to be part of white culture."

Bot...So was I.

TRUTH said...

Everyone is missing the point.......Racism, sterotypes, blahh blahh blahh.....
The problem is hip hop started to gain ground in the 80's. It was a movement where speaking street, glorifying drug dealing, treating women like hoes, and fathering lost of kids and having a arrest record gave you more cred. These hip hoppers now have had kids and raised them with this hip hop attitude, and they have had kids. Blacks look down on other blacks who speak properly. The slang, swagger,and head bopping, finger waving, ignorant attitude and the sense of you owe me something may have been a sterotype 20 years ago, but now it is true about the huge majority of blacks. Black women are obesese , gross, and lazy.
Black men are swaggery, arrogant, and constantly trying to "out nigger" eachother.
I dont owe any race anything. Blacks have turned into animals. If your hero is a billionare with hoes and doing work is cool to you along with drug dealing you will end up in jail, no question. But if jail is a badge of honor than no big deal right?
Look back in history at pictures of prisions from 1930-1950 and its almost all whites...blacks are 13% of the population and responsible for over 75% of crime.
If you dont act hip hop, ghetto, or your not an obeese black women wearing tight clothes while bobbing your head around. I dont see your color.......The truth is the black community itself is responsible for keeping itself down. Stop crying racism, slavery, and how you are keep down by the man, and make it cool in your community to speak proper english, get an education, and so on. If the black community keeps up at it pace over the 10 years, it will be way worse than it is now

Love Warrior said...

Hey sister. I don't think ignorance on any level should be acceptable, and ignorance is not limited to any particular race. That being said, there does indeed seem to be a sub-culture within the black community who embraces ignorance as being "cool." I grew up in a black neighborhood, and I recall thinking that school was not cool. I'm not sure where that idea propagated, but I can only assume it was from my peers. As I've gotten older, I think it may be a reaction to being black in America. It is not easy. There's white privilege. The country was created by white men. It was stolen from the indigenous people. Slaves were brought over from Africa to help build it. I can imagine, when you are a young black person coming of age, and start to realize that this is a white man's world how difficult that must be. I think a natural reaction for some would be that they do not want to go along with it. Someone also pointed out the entertainment industry's affect on culture as well. On the whole, I feel most people (regardless of race) are not taking advantage of all the resources available to grow and educate themselves. It's not just limited to some in the black community. I can only speculate. Truth is that there's a culture of ignorance in any race. Ignorance is the root cause of many problems. I do think it's a shame that we have a culture that promotes hedonism. I'm just as guilty as the average person of being ignorant. The only way to overcome this is to make people aware and have them desire for themselves to want to be educated and broaden their horizons. But with all the distractions today, and easy access to instant entertainment, it really requires a lot of maturity to turn away. We have gotten away from the Church as a whole. The nuclear family is not as common as it used to be. Both parents are busy working to make it, and so the school system is left raising kids. The proliferation of standardized testing has left teachers unable to teach kids how to think for themselves. We can blame the bureaucracy. It could be by design, or it could just be something that happened organically. It's our system of the "bottom line" being the ultimate goal. Finding the root cause may be a pointless exercise. We can all do better, but it has to start with people who care and are in a position to implement change. For myself, I know I'm ignorant and now have a thirst for knowledge. I wish that was the case when I was younger, but I had to learn many life lessons to get me to this point. This question is so big, it's hard to really find a solid answer. The answer perhaps centers on each individual's world view. To me, it's starts with loving Jesus. From there I can really begin the process of personal development. That's me. Not sure how others would answer this. In other words, the answer lies in having the world come to a knowledge of Christ and desiring to follow Him. Yet, it's the nature of sin and free will that people will be willfully ignorant. We can't fix free will. We can't fix sin.

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