Do you speak or understand Ebonics, which is also known as African American Vernacular English/African American English? Well the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) wants you. According to CNN.com, the DEA is looking for nine people to translate conversations picked up on wiretaps. According to the article:
“DEA’s position is, it’s a language form we have a need for,” Sanders said. “I think it’s a language form that DEA recognizes a need to have someone versed in to conduct investigations.”
The translators, being hired in the agency’s Southeast Region — which includes Atlanta, Georgia; Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and the Caribbean — would listen to wiretaps, translate what was said and be able to testify in court if necessary, he said.
I remember during the 1990’s there was some controversy over the Oakland, CA School Board wanting to teach Ebonics to black students.
The term “Ebonics” — a blend of “ebony” and “phonics” — became known in 1996, when the Oakland, California, Unified School District proposed using it in teaching English. After the school board came under fire, it voted to alter the plan, which recognized Ebonics as a distinct language.
The revised plan removed reference to Ebonics as “genetically based” and as the “primary language” of students. The board also removed a part that some understood to indicate that African-American students would be taught in Ebonics, although the board denied such intentions.
My problem with teaching children Ebonics as their primary language is how will they function in the real world? With the exception of the DEA soliciting Ebonic translators, how many companies are looking to hire folks who speak Ebonics? If you work in customer service how are folks suppose to understand what you’re saying? Young blacks, especially young black males have enough strikes against them. If you want to speak Ebonics in your home amongst family and friends who don’t have a problem with it that’s fine. Not all black folks speak Ebonics. But it’s a whole different world when you step outside your comfort zone.