Thomas Sowell

 What makes this a farce, as well as a tragedy, is that what is called "black English" is a dialect that originated among white people in parts of Britain centuries ago. That dialect was transferred across the Atlantic when people in those parts of Britain settled in the American South.

 With more than 90 percent of the black population living in the antebellum South, this transplanted dialect became the language of American blacks. Meanwhile, that dialect died out in Britain, with the spread of education and the standardization of the English language.

 It also eroded away in the South, with the spread of education among whites and blacks. But it persisted among the least educated blacks and, after the 1960s, this dialect became a badge of racial identity. Teachers were warned not to tamper with it and many heeded the warning.

 Fortunately for one little girl, one teacher defied the taboo and pointed out the obvious handicap that "black English" could be in school and in life.

 One teacher can't do it all. Not only do more teachers need to start correcting "black English," blacks themselves -- especially leaders and activists -- need to recognize what a high price a whole generation of black youngsters will pay for the indulgence of a fad and the hustles that grow out of that fad.

 The time is overdue. And the clock is still ticking.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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