“Nonstandard Negro English”, is what ebonics used to be called before 1973, when a group of Black scholars attempted to remove the negative connotation that came with the way Black people verbally expressed themselves. Ebonics is the term that reclaimed the expression and set the tone for those that were often scrutinized and degraded for this use of language. Ebonics, being a cultural thing, is like any other indigenous language. A connector tool used in Black spaces as a means of community.
And though ebonics is prevalent in Black culture as a whole, still, depending on the neighborhood, ebonics is actually spoken more commonly in certain regions than others. The South versus the West Coast is a prime example. And this is because the more diverse a region, the less collective use of ebonics compared to areas that are predominantly Black. Code switching is a good anomaly for this, as people switch their way of communicating with others that may not understand one’s “home” form of communication. Ebonics’ reputation through the white-supremacist lens is a direct result of code switching. In America, broken English is often criminalized and pushed out of white-dominant spaces. Which, thanks to systemic racism, creates economical barriers for communities of color.
Through the suppression of ebonics people are denied jobs, housing, resources and opportunities. And it’s because of the inherent racism and blatant exclusion the language faces. Nonstandard Negro English? The inclusion of “Nonstandard” speaks to the exclusion of Blackness. And, the longevity of its lack of social acceptance and receptivity. Ebonics, because of this degradation, has been solidified in stereotypes such as unintelligent, unprofessional, unclassy, and ultimately unacceptable. The “un-” that is emphasized upon ebonics is inherently racist for this very matter; as it is exercised exclusivity weaponized against a particular margin of people. Black people. For being Black.
Particularly in communal spaces (such as work and school) is where we see this form of exclusion fuel systemic oppression–as these are spaces where the use of ebonics is faced with the most criticism and advancement barriers. Colloquialism is another form of informal English. We are used to hearing “what’s up?” and have made space for this form of communication in the same spaces that ebonics face rejections. Why? Is “what’s up?” and “what it do’?” truly all that different aside from cultural imprint? How is Black vernacular a crime?
The acceptance of Black vernacular is not a case by case basis determined by space or context. Black vernacular is not a light switch as it’s treated when praised in the entertainment world of music, comedy, poetry and film.. Yet denied in everyday conversation.
Since when has Blackness treated as a product of capitalism become okay? The same Blackness that is denied equity, justice, value, and equality in its authentic presence. Could it be the stereotypes, lack of compassion, and suppression of freedom that is the demon to Blackness, not of?