Let's Talk



Your assistance is requested!!!

I am a white Kindergarten teacher in a predominately black/african American (I'm never sure which is best) School. I grew up in a north-eastern all- white small town; therefore my experience in any kind of interracial relations is limited. here's what I'd like opinions on:

I know A black person cannot speak for ALL black people but I have some questions and please excuse my total ignorance; Why/ how is slavery an important part of today's black identity? More specifically: how should it be talked about to young blacks? What books are important for young minds dealing with black identity? I don't want to tiptoe around race with my students. But I dont know the most effective way to deal with it. I know everyone has different ideas about this. I want to hear them all,I want these children to know they can be succesful amazing people.

But I don't want to feed them an American dream that may not be true for them. I dont know what it's like for them. I am completely ignorant, and I really would like some perspective. I know this is a very BROAD question, but any responses would be appreciated,

Thank you


Please send your comments directly to the author at theonlyalex@netscape.net



Are We Forcing Our Children To Miss The Computer Revolution?

What are the costs and benefits of fathers taking a leave of absense to stay at home with a newborn?

Do you have an opinion on this? Have another topic you want to discuss? Send it to us!

I don't think many black families realize the importance of having a computer in their homes. Preparing for Christmas, I have heard many parents talk about spending hundreds of dollars on Video Games and Equipment. Instead, why not buy a computer. The prices have dropped dramatically over the years.

Many parents don't purposely want to hinder the progress of their children. But without a computer in the home children are at a disadvantage. Unfortunately the problem is that a large percentage of blacks are not aware of the importance of technology in our society. Alas, we are inadvertingly forcing our children to miss the computer revolution.

Please Parents, instead of the video game, invest in a computer. They can still play games occasionally, but more importantly, they can begin to learn to use a machine that can benefit them in school, work, and home.

Submitted by lep8@earthlink.net

For Blacks to know where they are going they must know where they came from. Very often I will hear one of our "leaders" say "we have been in slavery for more than 400 years." Next they will say "slavery began in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619". If we add 1619 and 400 we find that equals 2019, so let's investigate where we came from. We must venture back to when the slave ships first left Africa for the Americas (Americas, not America). History tells us the slave ships following the trade winds in the 1400's made port calls in South America. In 1520 a Spanish explorer Lucas de Allyon ventured North where he found a group of Islands, he named them Santa Elena. These Islands were Spanish possessions. De Allyon recognized the similarities of these Islands with the West Coast of Africa. In 1526 the first groups of Blacks were brought to these Islands for the sole purposes of slavery. It was years later when these Islands became a part of the 13 original English colonies. Therefore when slavery began in "the English colonies" in 1619 slavery had already been in existence in South Carolina for 90 years. Slavery did not begin in the United States of America until after the Civil war and the signing of the Deceleration of Independence in 1776. Prior to that we were English colonies. We have survived the past 472 years (over 400 years) because of our strong Religious beliefs and family ties. For those of us who believed in the Civil Rights movement should remember the words of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said, we should not judge a person by the color of his skin, we should judge them by the content of their character. God has no respective person. We all are his children. We have just learned how we arrived here, to know where we came from I suggest that you visit http://www.angelfire.com/sc/jhstevens/penncenter.html After reading this very informative page it's up to you to decide where you go.

Submitted by: oiamill@hargray.com

Topic: Self-Love

How can we love others when we don't know how to love ourselves? We as a Black people are facing a moral dilemma and God has to be upset with us for our ignorance and arrogance to his plan of salvation. Since when did the Almighty make a mistake! Our race is weak because our men are weak! If God did not want us to be a Black people with our own individual unique culture, then he (God) would not have taken the time to perfect us! Like the Jews that fled Egypt with Moses (after 430 years of captivity) we Black people haved failed God in our wilderness experience (since the Civil Rights Era) by abandoning our christian heritage. Because we are disobedient to righteousness and have followed after the pagan beliefs of euro-centric culture, especially their god "Mammon", now we too are being slain in our "Wilderness of Sin" experience. But I thank God for leaving a remnant to enter into the 21st Century (Promise Land) who are god-fearing and culturally specific and are not ashamed of being Black, marrying Black, and who's offspring are Black! By the way, god-fearing families are married and not shacking up and their children are cherished and not destroying their neighborhoods! And finally, because we are consumers and not producers and do not practice reciprocity as a whole, most of us will die in our sin called "Wasted Talents". God is not a respector of persons.. for how can we as a Black people say that we love God whom we have not seen, but hate ourselves who we see everyday?


Personal reality is in your head, it is what you have experienced in life. Similar personal realities form groups. Groups create culture from the common similarities. Different realities means different groups which means different cultures, forever.

The dominant culture is the one that has worked the best for the most people for the longest time in a given group. The subcultures fall accordingly beneath. Subcultures can thrive without destroying a civilized society as long as the dominant culture, which will always be the target of the subcultures, isn't mistaken for the established time proven ways of maintaining the cohesion needed for the common good of all in the society group.

In other words, you have to know the difference between when you individuality is threaten, often called culture, and when it is a matter of doing what is best for all, often confused with being an uncle Tom catering to the white man.


We, African Americans, certainly have cultural differences; however, "people" underneath the skin are the same and want the same things in life. In my opinion, we all want to be loved and accomplish the necessities of this life. We need to get past all of this African stuff because most of us will never get to Africa nor understand the culture.

Self-love starts with taking a good look at where you stand in death and making this life better to that end; and that involves loving others of all kind. When I look at a man I don't just see the color of his skin, but his character and self-worth has a human. I believe that we can learn from one other. If God had given us a choice, would it be Black?

If a man of another race can provide love, strength, purpose and value to a woman or man of color, then to God be the glory to those two people looking beyond what is and knowing what can be. (11/97)


I wish African-Americans would stop trying to be White and be themselves. I know we live in America, but can't we still keep our souls (and not sell them)? I attend a predominantly White college and a lot of African-Americans here are all up in Whites' faces and kissing up. This is not necessary--not to say hypocritical. Like, for instance, in the entertainment industry, a lot of famous "brothers" and "sister" are marrying Whites--knowing they never grew up with them or don't share any cultural similarities. Trust me--they are EMBARRASSING AND LOOK STUPID! We should have enough pride and knowledge by now to appreciate, honor, and value ourselves as Black, Beautiful, and the Best!



Topic: Race in Professional Sports: The Front Office v. The Front Line

I view the relationship of Owners vs. Players as a continuation of slavery. Although, they're well paid slaves, they're still slaves that have virtually no freedom of speech concerning any issues that effect the African-American community. Their life and human essence is totally owned by the owners to which they have contracted with and essentially they all know their place. It's a total shame and I pity them and our so called black entertainers; all of them are a sorry bunch! They willing participate in this perpetuation of slavery, it's a disgrace!


Subject: Athletes as heros

The cover story of the May issue of Emerge magazine focused on the "alleged" rape of a Spellman coed. The four men accused include two basketball players. Over and over we hear about athletes, particularly black athletes being accused of sexual and physical assault. Without having the discussion about which of them are or are not guilty of the crimes for which they were accused, I would like to have a discussion about the way we have turned athletes into demigods and how that may or may not contribute to the way they behave off the field, court, or out of the ring.


Topic: Ebonics

For background on this issue, visit The Oakland School Board's website on some of the misconceptions about Ebonics at http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/oakland.standard.html:

What do YOU think?

Although I'm white I like Ebonics. I think for example that "Is You Isor Is You Aint my Baby" is much more evocative than "Are You Are Or AreYou Arent My Baby." However, I notice that most of your submissions are made in good to very good Standard English. Perhaps someone would translate them for us. What! (11/97)


There are a great many white people who speak "improper English" - is Oakland or any other city going to come up with "Cauconics"? No of course not.

Personally, I think the term "improper English" is highly suspect. Who is to determine what proper English is - the language has evolved so much. Not too long ago, even the characters in the English language were notthe same as today - most of us could not have even read it much less spoken it. People from England, the supposed originator of and authority on "proper English", will readily accuse EVERYONE in the U.S. of speaking improper English.

In spite of this, I do believe many Black Americans, including myself, can differentiate between when to use Ebonics, Black English (or whatever this society wants to call it) versus America's "proper English". When I am in the "business world" or everyday society I can "walk the walk" and "talk the talk" so that I am clearly understood.

It seems to me that we, as a people, do not need to be overly concerned with whether others understand us along with our cultures and languages. How many more centuries are we going to waste on hoping and waiting for other people to understand us? We need to focus more on understanding and upbuilding ourselves first, then the rest will come.


"I think it's too bad that this program has gotten such a bad name. I think that Oakland is acknowledging that Black children come to school with different speech patterns and it is a good idea to try to work with those speech patterns that have already been created, instead of telling the children that they are illiterate. The issue of Ebonics has been around for at least 20 years. Glad to see someone finally addressing it."

Tyrone Anthony

I am a native Sea Islander who speaks Gullah and has a family filled with fluent Gullah speakers. I am offended by the fact that the media has put every camera, microphone, and printing press on this issue of Ebonics and there has never been this type of attention to the serious work that has been done to recognize and preserve legitimate languages and cultures such as Gullah.

As a Gullah speaker and historian I feel as if I have been slapped in the face to hear the programs that are on television and the radio in which people are speaking of Ebonics and using Gullah to further their platforms. Yet, the people that are speaking are not individuals that have lived through the ordeals that any Gullah speaking person has to endure which ranges from being considered "backward" and "ignorant" to losing your native tongue and then fighting to have to re-obtain it.

I am writing this letter because numerous people that know of my work and the work of legitimate linguist and historians that I am associated with, have written and called me. Given that this issue has not died and it seems to be building momentum, and since many of you may be intending to focus even more on this issue during February because of what that month denotes, I wanted to make sure to contact you and let you know that I and many others would like to see some actual native Gullah Sea Islanders be brought into the discussions that are continuing to go on.

Please contact me in regard to this at QueenMut@aol.com or (212)439-1026. I can provide historic details and personal accounts regarding Sea Island history, heritage, and language. There needs to be some respect and appreciation given to those who are truly the experts-those that live what is being theorized and discussed.

I look forward to you taking the position to tell all sides of the story.



Marquetta L. Goodwine
Gullah Historian
Founder, Afrikan Kultural Arts Network
Founder, Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition

I am a African American from Oakland working in Japan. As with most of the news on CNN about Oakland/California, the Ebonics subject generated many comments and questions for me. Although I have not lived (but I visit my family there about 2-3 times a year) in Oakland since 1991, I am expected to be knowledgeable of any subject in regards to Oakland/California. Do you speak Ebonics? Do you know any gang members/gays/moviestars? How did you survive living in such a violent city? You're from California, you seem so normal! Family and friends are sending me alot of info, but so far I am just as confused with everyone else. My comment to the school board is "Yes, our children do need additional attention and coping strategies because of the challeges they face in all aspects (school, home, social)of their lives, but creating another language is not the answer".


Homer & Sonya Latham


Ebonics? The Hidden Issue Is About Teacher Certification by Dr. Keith Orlando Hilton

Let's put to rest the debate about Ebonics being a language, a dialect or slang. Empirical studies have been done to support the fact that it is indeed a functional language. Bigger issues regarding Ebonics that are just beneath the surface are; 1) teacher certification and 2) expanding the public education definition of bilingual education and/or ESL-- English as a Second Language.

Approximately 90 % of public school teachers are white (European American) and while many may grumble silently about faculty development and Ebonics, when it comes to employment and certification, with Ebonics being a factor, many donít want to "talk the talk or walk the walk." You see, if teachers are expected to study Ebonics as a part of getting a job, who do you think will resist, manywhites and other non-Black teachers who dominate the ranks. So it is much easier to question Ebonics than discuss greater issues of human re-empowerment and resources for African children, parents and teachers.


Did you know that English is a borrowed language comprised of Arabic, Latin, French and African languages while Ebonics is as old as humankind?

We suspect that the issue of Ebonics will be discussed well into the 21st century. In fact, I have a 1986 article by Dr. Ernie X. Smith titled, "Ebonics and the Standard English Barrier" that I periodically cite. This is a 10 year old article. Also, during the Christmas/Kwanzaa holiday I went into my personal library and came across two related books that I have had for over 20 years; "Black English" by J.L. Dillard (1972) and "Black American English" by Paul Stoller (1975). Yes, this issue has been around for sometime and it has ramifications beyond Oakland, California. Now, about Jesse Jackson and Maya Angelou!

In some ways their immediate responses to Ebonics were similar to those of some critics of the Million Man March. Remember how some in the white media quickly found African critics of the march such as Angela Davis, JulienneMalveaux and Manning Marable? And in some cases it didn't take much looking. Yes, critics are important to discourse and often provide invaluable insight to a topic, however, I am hard pressed to think of too many instances when the white media collectively endorses African re-empowerment issues.

Sometimes, however, it is just better to say, "I don't know or let me consult with some others with more direct knowledge or just let me have some time to reflect on the issue." Jackson didn't do that initially and as a result some wondered if he flip flopped for some other "shakedown" reason instead of looking at the two aforementioned issues beneath the surface.

According to Dr. A.S. Diamond of the British Supreme Court, in his 1962 book, "The History and Origin of Language", he wrote, "It might seem likely that we should find the clearest evidences of the origin of speech near the areas where man arose. To the present author the evidence seems to indicate as the birth place of man the areas around the great lakes of East Africa."

Smith in his paper also takes the position that "archeological evidence is irrefutable that the original man is the Asiatic Black man. If then, the original man was the Asiatic Black man, the original language of man was made of Asiatic Black sounds."

Smith further notes that, "Black sounds then, (Ebonics) always were and always will be. Hence, in the deep structure of Black speakers, there is a cognitive process and deep phonology that is not the same as that of non-Blacks."

Dr. Aisha Blackshire-Belay, a linguist and Chair of African Studies at Indiana State University also noted that "Ebonics represents the oral tradition of African people. We speak American English but we also have another language, which is our own language -- Ebonics. It is indeed our first language."

HILTON: HIGHER EDUCATION is an international column designed to dialogue with college and world readers. Education is ongoing and certainly not limited to classroom study. Let's talk.

Keith Orlando Hilton

I am a Junior Achievement Consultant, recently assigned to a high school class in Lower Manhattan. I was appalled to hear the teacher's repeated misuse of the english language. It's no wonder our children have poor english skills when their teachers barely have a rudimentary command of the language themselves. More reading, more rigorous standards for teachers, and a focus on the spoken word is what our children need. And each of us who has mastered the english language, each of us who has "made it", should be going back into the community and providing an example for our children. THAT is what will help us. This ficticious language called Ebonics is not the answer.


Nikki Pope
Marketing Director
Comcast Online

Daniel B, ELLIVNOIB@aol.com

As a french black from the west indies, I give you my point of view about Ebonics. The first time I heard about that was in the CBS evening news. Some school want to learn children how to speak Ebonics , but it seems that some of this children can't speak english correctly.

In France we do have this problem but maybe lightly different, because the black community in France is mainly from 2 island (Martinique and Guadeloupe) which are like a state in the US. So we develop a language ( or dialect for some people) which is call "Creole",it's a mixture of french, african and others . this language is spoken in different Caribbean islands. But when my parents was in school ( they're sixty now ), the "creole" language was ban at school and even with any adult eventhough the adults speak "creole" together ."Creole" was a "under language "for poor and educationless.

Now everybody speak "creole" even at school, you can also be graduate in this language, in october one of writer passed a "doctorat " that means that he is graduate 8 years in university. the french educational system recognize his degree.

Au revoir, a bientot

Daniel B

Recently, I wanted to send my Congresswoman (Eddie B. Johnson) 30th Dist. of Texas an email to voice my opinion on an issue. After reviewing the Congressional email record, I soon discovered that most of our black congressmen/women do not have an email address listed. The few that have web pages, provide no mean to communication back (Shelia Jackson - Houston Tex). Ron Dellums of Calif, Jackson of Ill and the list goes on. What must we do to convice our OWN elected leaders that we have at least 1 Million black on the net. Its seems as they do not want to be bothers with email from their districts. How sad.

jirvin@flash.net (James Irvin)

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