When the recent controversy over "Ebonics," also known as African American Vernacular English (AAVE), erupted in the American media, the education and culture of African slave descendants in America once again took center stage, not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. Now, a leading scholar and popular journalist offers an intriguing exploration of the state of AAVE. The pieces included in this anthology speak to the heart of an issue that has proved both emotional and provocative-one that has engaged the opinions of Americans of all races, backgrounds, and walks of life.
Spanning a period from 1972 to 1998, and including new essays written especially for this book, the writings here offer a unique perspective on the African American oral tradition. From her earliest experiences with speech "correction" as a speaker of what was then called "Black Dialect" to a history of linguist-activism in the last half century, Geneva Smitherman explores the linguistic, cultural and educational issues that surround the Ebonics movement, investigates the impact of rap and hip-hop on Black language, and draws on her own extensive work in the field as well as from her personal experiences as an educator and activist to examine historical, legal, and cultural influences on the evolution of AAVE. Opinionated, forthright, and always entertaining, Smitherman writes with a rare combination of scholarly excellence and personal style that makes this collection the perfect introduction--for scholars and general readers alike- -to an important aspect of our national identity.