African-American Vernacular Language
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According to Steve Willis' poem "Ebonics 101," Ebonics can be referred to as southern fried English, slang, or America's creole. In a span of three minutes, he passionately described the black experience in America. He described not only my childhood, but the dialect that was spoken with so much ease at all my family gatherings. I grew up in an urban community where I heard sayings like: "What yall doing?" "You tryna chill?" and "I finna go to the store" on a daily basis. As I became older and attended school, I knew the use of American Vernacular Language wasn't acceptable. I have to put on a facade when I am not in the comfort of my home. I have to articulate well. I know it is a little un-genuine, but I am certain that if I did not, people would look down on me.

I wondered if I was the only one who felt as though they had to put on a mask as soon as they stepped outside their front door. I observed my mother for a few days. The way she spoke at home was so carefree. I watched as the r's in words that held a combination of "or" magically disappeared. When my little brother started jumping on the couch, my mother stared at him with piercing eyes and a hand on her hip and stated: "You better stop jumpin' befo' you bust your head." However, a cold switch occurred when she went to my brother's school for a parent-teacher conference. Her speech patterns and phrases changed. Her voice was higher. She spoke clearly and eloquently. She reminded me so much of myself when I am in an academic setting, my brother when he is on a job interview, and my grandmother when she is on an important phone call.

I asked my mom who was that woman and she replied with "That was Ms. Phillips. Not Markette." I was not shocked at her response. Ebonics is not the proper way to speak according to society. It is not a dialect. It is not a language. It is improper language. You would be cast as uneducated, inferior, or ghetto if you were bold enough to "talk black" in a room full of linguistic scholars. Willis describes Ebonics as cultural, not remedial. One of my favorite lines from his speech is, "the bended back of my speech comes from years of carrying the black experience." Ebonics is the official language of the undefined black culture and the native tongue to the underrepresented black American.

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