How Black Scholars Fought to Preserve Ebonics

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Alyssa Guzik
October 23, 2023

Ebonics, the intricate and resonant linguistic phenomenon, encapsulates a tumultuous history echoing the indomitable spirit of Black Americans in our struggle for liberation. Emerging from the bowels of slavery, where communication was forcibly stripped away, ebonics witnessed its genesis as a survival mechanism amongst enslaved Africans.

The shackles of slavery forced the English language upon our ancestors. Blending regional dialects and West African languages like Gola and Mandinka became the trademark of Black language in America. As time marched onward, so did the way we communicated with each other.

Fast forward to the 1970s, and in a powerful display of intellectual resilience and defiance, Black scholars converged to formally recognize and name Ebonics, driven by an unwavering commitment to preserving and celebrating culture. Centuries of systemic oppression have denied us the right to express ourselves authentically and unapologetically. This meeting symbolized a rallying cry for linguistic liberation.

Recognizing its profound cultural significance, scholars championed ebonics' legitimacy as a language deserving recognition. Oakland, California's school board, boldly moved in 1996, recognizing Ebonics as its own language.

With great conviction, Black scholars embraced Ebonics not as a language deficiency but as a distinct oral tradition reflecting our resilience, creativity, and enduring spirit. There is beauty and power in our means of communication. Say it loud!