Pam Gill  1997  Published in: Technocracy Digest, 2nd quarter 1997, No. 324 

The question of Ebonics has been trashed all over the electronic and printed media. This subject from a Technocratic perspective, which the media avoids covering, addresses the subject in a different light.

The author is an English teacher in an inner-city school in San Francisco, writing to the Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“As an English teacher, I have followed the debate on Ebonics. As a person attending Christmas parties, I have listened to several heated conversations on the topic. To me the question seems beside the point, except that in our social-economic system, all points seem cash-driven; bilingual funds may, or may not, be forthcoming to quell the waters. Meanwhile, why are so many Afro-American students doing so poorly in school? It isn’t because “public forum speaking” is, or isn’t, taught.

Most teachers acknowledge the realities of Black English, and would probably be even better off if they were more educated on the topic. I teach “standard” English and I, myself, pick up Ebonics. When I wish to, I say “She be goin’.” I love the variety, rhythm, and expressiveness of Ebonics. Its use is not confined to African Americans.

So why are large numbers of African American students failing or barely scraping by? (And they aren’t the only ones!) Here is the answer: Because so many live in economically deprived homes in economically deprived neighborhoods. Why is the infant mortality rate of Afro-American babies so high in Oakland, California? Not because “I be pregnant” goes linguistically dishonored or misunderstood. It doesn’t even get heard, or is heard in over-crowded, under-staffed medical facilities. If we are going to talk about schools and the “education” we rave on about, we had better admit to the over-crowded and under-staffed conditions there too.

Is this system willing to pay for real change? It isn’t and it can’t. The only organization I’ve seen with a viable alternative is Technocracy. Maybe it will be taken seriously, maybe not. For now I will continue to teach English as quickly and accurately and humanely as I am able, but I assure you it is not nearly enough.