Bertis English, an Assistant Professor of History at Alabama State University is displeased with my recent column, “Hooked on Ebonics.” He wrote the following to me just a few days ago:
Professor Adams, I just read your piece “Hooked on Ebonics” at Townhall.com, which I receive daily. Though I am, of course, familiar with the general platform of the site, as well as its contributors and readership, I was, frankly, taken aback by the seeming ignorance, rambling et cetera of you—a purported academician— in the referenced piece. One, are you familiar with the development of so-called Ebony Phonics, or Ebonics, particularly its 1970s roots and the acidic issues that were debates among certain Oakland school officials during the 1990s? Two, are you truly serious about having your inquiries answered?
Please, Sir, do the academic world a favor: let the tabloid writers, bigots, supremacists (of any “ethnicity”, nationality, religious denomination, “race”) handle the bias; concentrate on intellectual ideas. I am confident that your students and perhaps some University of North Carolina Wilmington faculty and administrators will be better served by the latter course of action.
Some people who read my humorous columns fail to see their humor. Others do but fail to see their seriousness. Professor English is one of those rare readers appearing to be both humorless and wholly unable to grasp the serious theme behind my sarcastic attack on the notion of ebonics scholarships. I’ve written this column today to Professor English (in English) in an effort to elaborate on the point he seems to have missed.
I begin with an example.
Years ago, in my department, there was a black secretary who simply could not write coherent letters. Of course, as a secretary she would have to write letters to parents, job applicants, and others – all on official university stationery. There were so many misspellings and other grammatical errors in her letters that we had to eventually try to get rid of her. We simply had no use for a semi-literate secretary.
But trying to fire a black secretary is about a hard as getting a gay activist to admit that impersonal sodomy contributes to the spread of AIDS. In fact, come to think of it, the Gay Plague of the 1980s and the Ebonic Plague of the 1990s both relied on enablers masquerading as civil rights leaders. But that’s probably another column altogether.