Hatin’ On Ebonics

Special thanks to Wanpimao for suggesting this topic.

Ebonics, in the simplest terms, is black vernacular English. The word itself is a hybrid of ‘Ebony’ and ‘phonics’ used by Blacks in West Africa, the Caribbean and, of course, North America. It is coined in 1973 by African American social psychologist Robert Williams who also edited and co-written the book Ebonics: The True Language of Black Folks.

Ebonics is no different than any other vernacular language. However, in the United States alone, it – like their counterparts – is often made fun of and mocked. Unlike mocking say French, British English or even Russian, there’s a racial animosity behind it the same way they parody the dialect of Asians, Hispanics and First Nation people.

Hollywood and racist internet trolls use what is popularly known as Mock Ebonics or linguistic racism. In Hollywood, especially in comedies, Mock Ebonics is used as a comedic prop used either by black actors, some of whom are comedians, or by Whites, also some of whom are comedians. It is usually to show that black folks are somehow “different” but hilarious. But being used by whites make whites appear dorky, but still funny. In the end, Mock Ebonics in this genre promotes the idea that any given black person will most likely speak ta certain way, according to film and television.

Sometimes Mock Ebonics is use to show how “down” certain nonblack characters are as if talking like a “typical” black person makes them cooler. It is especially true in stories about “fitting in”, where a white person learns how to be “black”. (And I know I have a lot of words in quotes, but I use them very lightly.)

I don’t even know.

Mock Ebonics has an unnamed ancestor during the days of minstrelsy where white actors (in blackface) and black actors played the role of happy but stupid, bumbling negroes screwing up in any given situation. White audiences ate that shit up, believing that’s how all, not some or most, black people speak and act. Therefore, black people by nature are less intelligent than whites.

Racists love to use Mock Ebonics when delivering their disdain for black people. This is especially true online. Racist trolls love to use Mock Ebonics in the most asinine way possible. Regardless of how offensive it is, they consider Ebonics not only as bad grammar, but an inferior form of English. The irony is that many of these racist trolls leave comments suffering from a severe case of grammatical and spelling errors.

Most whites who do not consider themselves as racist fall into the trap of believing that all black people speak according to media representations, especially rap songs. Some of them hardly even met a lot of actual black people outside of what they see on TV and in movies. Yet, they seem to think using Mock Ebonics is a way for black people to understand what they’re saying.

Conversely, they believe that blacks can not understand plain English. They don’t think they can even speak it! When black folks do speak plain, “proper” or even intelligent England, they get shocked! “He articulates well for a black person.”

Many black folks know that most whites are stereotype junkies. So, they watch what they say and how it’s said in the company of whites. They know white people think all black folks talk alike. And they know they contribute that to their obsession with black inferiority.

There is nothing wrong with Ebonics. It is no different than any other dialect. But white society tries to turn it, much like it does with black skin, into a trait of sin and dysfunction. Many of us know what’s up, and we choose our words carefully to one-up the ignorance and psychopathy of racism. Know what I’m sayin’?

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19 thoughts on “Hatin’ On Ebonics

  1. If, or should I say “If’n”, I had a nickel for every white commenter or creature that came up to me and said during some conversation/ question:

    Wazzup

    Sho’ nuf

    Knowutimsayin’

    Muggafugga

    Aiight

    Tricked-out

    Etc…etc…

    I’d ALREADY have a home in Ghana.

    Thankfully, my meditation rituals are keeping Drakkor’s evil vampiric nature off my chakras. I avoid speaking to the Dragon like the plague. I would suggest you do the same lest your sanity escape you. By the way, I’m doing a meditation ritual on my blog. Please join us. It’s the newest post.

    1. Hi Negress,
      Glad to hear you have posted something new on your blog. Missed reading some of the topics. If I had a dime for every tine I encountered a racist person who expected me to be inarticulate, or as you stated above started attempting to relate to me through the so called use of “Eubonics.” I would be able to have a house next door to you in Ghana. I am sick and tired of the crap I have to deal with from racist and also from Black people who buy into the notion I must speak in a certain way. In the parts of the world
      where English is spoken there are so many regional differences, and thus far no one particular group has a grasp on “The Kings English.” Even in England no one really has mastery of English and uses it correctly 100% of the time. So in conclusion I can only say this: communication involves being able to relate to others more than linguistic differences do. I also wish that African Americans had come together to put a stop to the non sense about so called Eubonics when the issue first made its appearence in the academic world. I knew that it would be used in a racist manner against Black people. #Blackinasia has some pretty good post and podcast exploring the fact that English and the learning of English is used as a tool of imperialism. Anyway, one day Doan I hope you and I will both have a house in Ghana. I hope you will also do a post on the meditation technique you referenced above.

  2. ok so let me get this straight… our ancestors were not allowed to learn to read or write, so their English wasn’t perfect, and because of it black people have been made fun of ever since.

    “Many black folks know that most whites are stereotype junkies. So, they watch what they say and how it’s said in the company of whites”

    until black folks stop caring what others think of us we will always seek their approval. i’m not saying don’t learn another language or don’t learn to become fluent in whatever language u speak, i’m just saying don’t change the way u are just to prove how u are not the stereotypical black person. By being articulate u will still be stereotyped, remember Fredrick Douglas was a great speaker and people doubted that he was ever a slave, so people assume u must be lying or trying to be something u are not,because of the way u speak or dress.

    I know this part may sound contradicting but here it goes… code switching is fine in certain situations, if it has to do with ur job or a formal setting then fine. if u are in the company of everyday people then speak the way u normally do. my only issue is don’t just change the way u speak just because a white person comes into the room, if that white person is not ur boss, or somebody that is of high status, don’t worry about them.

    1. I don’t think so much it’s only about caring about what others think. I think there’s a fear of action that comes from such thinking. It’s like whenever a crime occurs where the suspect is black and the victim is white. There’s always fear of repercussions from that, not necessarily in the form of hate groups – though it can’t be ruled out – but in the form of police and politics.

  3. “Many of us know what’s up, and we choose our words carefully to one-up the ignorance of racism”

    we can never one up against racism unless we control something, the ignorance will always be there as long as the media portrays us in that light. a black person goes to college, oh they must have gotten there because of affirmative action or a sports scholarship, black person has money, oh they must be selling drugs.

    yes it does feel good to correct people because they assume we all think and act the same way, but it should not be about one upping but about debunking the lies and reminding ourselves that we are worthy. sometimes we forget about ourselves and focus on proving others wrong even when it means denying who we are, like the blacks that say they never eat watermelon when they have, or the ones that will not eat certain foods around others or will give people their nickname because they are ashamed of their real name.

    as black folks we have to operate and survive in two different worlds, in both we can’t always be ourselves 100% of the time, I long for an existence where being black doesn’t mean talking, dressing, or acting a certain way, and being black is a description of who u are physically, and not an indicator of how u are as a person.

    1. yes it does feel good to correct people because they assume we all think and act the same way, but it should not be about one upping but about debunking the lies and reminding ourselves that we are worthy.

      I agree. But when I wrote that sentence, I had that in mind.

    2. You so right. I can’t stand when our folks talk like them. It’s because we appeared on this planet naturally seasoned, spicy from the soil. We not bland. Even my ‘business’ voice is very indicative of a black man.

    3. Good post, Brothawolf, and I’m glad Wampimao brought up this subject!

      @ Mstoogood4yall: Thank you for your comments! They are very truthful!

      @ Diaryofanegress: Thank you for adding to your blog, even if it’s just for a post or two.

  4. I understand the use of black vernacular, i use it with my friends and family,i will not just demonize it, there is a time and place to use it. I do hate when white folks use it though.

  5. I was reading somewhere that the “th” sound is absent from all African languages even Kemetic. If so this would explain our “difficulty” in pronouncing some english words, they are totally alien to us. I even do this unconsciously when whites are not around.
    “Them” becomes “dem”, “these” becomes “dees”, “mother” becomes “muhvah”. Looking at it from that perspective it’s just more natural for africans to eliminate a pronuciation that has never occured in their language in thousands of years.

  6. Why do they always think that we must speak Ebonics and then they mock it to make fun of us? I am sick of it. Sick of everything in this country

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