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.)
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’?