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In 1996, the Oakland School District proposed the inclusion of what is known as "Ebonics" into its curriculum. Ebonics, or Black language, has been referred to in various ways over the years: "African American Vernacular English," "Pan-African Communication Behaviors," "African Language Systems," or "West and Niger-Congo African Language Systems." By any name, Ebonics, when studied over the years, has been proven to be a real language with its own phonology, syntax, morphology, sentence patterns, and double interpretations of words. The pattern that Ebonics speakers in the United States speak is highly similar to the patterns seen in both the Caribbean Creole and the West African languages. No one would have thought that comedian Bill Cosby would have an opinion on this subject, but as I read through essay I realized the logic and validity behind his paper.
In his essay Bill Cosby states that, "Ebonics be a complex issue," and it is, also he feels that it should not be taught in schools without studying the problems that could grow from teaching "an urbanized version of the English language." Cosby has a PhD in education, which increases his credibility. Cosby, being a black man, should not affect how his essay is read but it may be an issue to some. His use of humor makes the subject easier to comprehend and the entire piece more interesting. There is always a serious way and a lighter way to address any problem that affects many people and Cosby's choice to use humor makes more sense considering who he is in the public eye. Ebonics is a difficult issue to deal with, and Cosby makes a valid point that it should not be taught in school.
Cosby's credibility is not weakened because of his PhD in education if nothing else it is heightened. Being that he has this degree, he is more likely to obtain all the facts before forming a strong opinion on the subject. Having to teach Ebonics to anyone and everyone would be a problem and some people may not want to learn a new version of the language that has been taught for how many years. Cosby’s education creates a feel of an educated person making an educated opinion, not just anyone with a personal opinion.
A black man has just as much authority to discuss Ebonics as a white or Asian-American person. Just because Cosby is black does not affect the way Ebonics would be encountered in everyday occurrences.
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Cosby's humor is expected in everything he does, unfortunately that is how he is viewed to the public. His use of humor to express his point of view only lightens the seriousness, but it is not weakened. The examples of the problems that may arise if Ebonics is taught to students make the issue easier to understand without disrupting the main point. When he states, "an Ebonics-speaking nurse hands a patient some eye drops and says, `Put'em in an ear fur near,'" this may be misunderstood and like Cosby says, "the non-Ebonics-speaking patient might fill his ear with Visine." This is a worst-case scenario but it is better to deal with these sorts of problems beforehand. The language barrier is already a large enough problem without introducing another barrier. Another example that was not in the essay is, "once." In English it means one time, but it may be read in Spanish as eleven that could cause a similar problem as Ebonics. The humor in the essay Cosby wrote makes a complex issue somewhat simpler to understand.
When dealing with this kind of concern a serious delivery of opinion may be just as effective as Cosby's humorous delivery. Cosby makes his point his way without losing any credibility by using his humor. If he had not used the humor it may have been harder to understand his personal opinion of the situation. Cosby would not have decreased the fact that Ebonics is a complicated issue and cannot be ignored if he had approached it in a serious manner.
As I read through Cosby’s essay I realized the logic behind his thoughts. Cosby feels that English is a hard enough language to learn as it is, and adding a variation to that language is pointless. I feel that Ebonics is a widely used form of speaking on the street that should stay on the street. I think that those who need to know and want to know Ebonics can learn it very easily on the streets where it originated but those who do not want to learn this useless form of English should not be forced to as part of their curriculum. Ebonics is gaining in followers but lacks the actual importance and universal concept of a language as it is strictly used in the more poverty stricken parts of the United States.
Cosby's essay addresses Ebonics with a stand that it should not be taught in school. Having a PhD in education helps him to be more credible, but does not change the massage he is delivering. His ethnicity may affect some people that would read this, but the main point of the text is Ebonics and how it would affect everyone not only blacks. Cosby being a comedian and actor is able to use his humorous personality to get his point across without lacking in integrity. Ebonics is a topic that must be dealt with; whether that be in a serious or humorous manner as in this particular essay does not alter the problem at hand. Bill Cosby makes a valid effort to display the fact that Ebonics being taught in schools would create more problems than have been examined.