All posts by lillians02

Spring Symposium Tomorrow! (Well Today)

IMG_6708

Just a little humor before I get started! The Spring Symposium is tomorrow! I am excited, nervous, shakin’ in my boots, all of that. Mostly excited though. I left last week’s class feeling more confident about presenting my work to an audience (including my family) for the first time. I finished my presentation and I also successfully made my surprise handouts for everyone. Here is what everyone will receive:

Thesis Handout

This is going to be a “Quilt Card” that everyone will be able to take home. By now, everyone knows the format of my thesis will eventually be this multimodal quilt that consists of all types of media and text. My topic is not just sensitive, but it’s very important. It’s not only for people who have careers in the academic setting, but it’s important to know in general. I wanted to make sure that the people who heard my presentation learned something new and remember what I said. Of course, there was so much more I wanted to put on this quilt, but I picked what I think people would remember the most.

After finishing the Quilt Card, I worked on my presentation. I must say, after editing it for hours, it turned out nice! Here are some screenshots:

To wrap things up, I am excited to present the work I have done so far. I apologize for the short post! It’s 1 am, and I am T I R E D want to be prepared for tomorrow. (Really today). Anyway…

Thank you and goodnight!

Almost That Time!

 

8b2322673da4e2b384621c49cdfc03c9
A Different World

 

Let’s Get Started!

Hello everyone! Well, I have been quite busy this week. Before I get started, just a huge “Congratulations” to my fellow classmate, scholar, and colleague Kelli for the amazing showcase of her Thesis during Kean University’s Research Days 2019. I was able to express, create, and learn. I applaud you. I also had the honor of participating in Kean’s Research Days along with my Writing and Theory Practice class from last semester. Integrating various ideas, articles, research, images, blog posts, ideas, and videos, we collectively created a website that touched upon various important topics concerning the up-and-coming issues in the classroom. We called it “Small Bites of Knowledge,” so I’ll be sure to add the link to the site after this blog!

Click to view slideshow.

Anyway! So besides all of that fun, I had to get down to business. I took a break from writing the next section of my thesis to focus on the Spring Symposium next week! (Can’t believe it’s here already.) I had a hard time creating a formal proposal and a short idea of what I am going to present next week. Of course, it’s in the first draft phase, and tomorrow I will do some cleanup. I wanted to make sure I get my point across and emphasize the problem I am focusing on. And then, of course, I talked about my chapters. I’m not sure if what I have so much is specific enough, but I am hoping it’s a good start to completing my presentation. I do want to show the idea that I had for possibly making a website that looks like this:

fullsizeoutput_1929

Then I would also like to show the two sections that I have completed so much. It’s too much information to go through every “puzzle piece” of the document, but I would just scroll through it just to show everyone the work that is going into this thesis. What I don’t want to happen is it becomes a “boring” presentation and not something that will get their attention. Nevertheless, I tried my best. (Did not mean for that to rhyme). 

Before I sign off, I want to discuss something one of my classmates sent to me. Here is the image. Two sections are circled. There was a job posting for a teaching job at a university. The job posted the “Essential Duties and Responsibilities” that are required. The very first bullet point says, “Teach students writing in standard academic English through one-on-one, asynchronous online paper review appointments…”. Now, on the third bullet point, it says, “Commit to treating students, staff, and faculty in our community with empathy and respect, recognizing and valuing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.” So then my classmate and I started talking, and she pointed out the fact that this job posting is contradictory. The school wants to make sure the students learn “standard academic English” but then also needs to recognize diversity. It’s challenging to tackle both responsibilities without canceling one of them out.

2amfu_z5.jpg

I realized that in the academic space, it’s acceptable to have diversity in the classroom as long as the students are taught to speak and write [like this] to pass the class and be considered a “good student” or sound professional. Part of my thesis touched upon when it comes to a different dialect of English, in this case, AAVE is only accepted when people want it to be. I was thinking about including this example as part of the Power section of my thesis. Some people have “the upper hand” in society who creates the rules of what is acceptable and what is deemed unacceptable. It happens too often. People in power, such as higher-ups in the university setting, appreciate or merely accept only certain parts of a culture. You can’t love Spanish food but then dismiss their language. You can’t love 90’s R&B but dismiss AAVE. It’s almost as if this job application is saying, “Culture and diversity are good. It’s needed! It’s important! Just not when it comes to academic writing and language in its setting.” Instead, the job posting should have said, “Teach students writing in their best academic sense through one-on-one, asynchronous, online paper review appointments.” By phrasing it like this, the pressure of having to speak [like this] for the student to succeed decreases.

With that being said, I am looking forward to presenting my work for the first time next week. Until next time!

Here is the link to my Spring Symposium Formal Proposal: 

Also, the link to “Small Bites of Knowledge.” 

 

 

 

Trust the Process

Image result for ebonics gif
Google Search: POET KWYN TOWNSEND RILEY

Well, I must say that this past week did go the way I expected. (But hey, that’s life!) The process for coming up with the different parts for the next chapter, Education, was harder than the History section. I had a difficult time condensing my notes into just a few sections. There is so much to address when it comes to Mainstream/Standard English versus AAVE in a classroom setting. I was able to add videos and images, which were helpful to the creative side of this thesis. Here are some screenshots from the document:

 

I didn’t think about the format of this section or where each box should go yet, I just wrote and put down whatever I thought would fit in the Education section. I do see more of my voice and opinion is shown in this section than the previous section. Also, there is more research present. Education and AAVE is such a big and controversial topic that I wanted to make sure I hit every corner. I wanted to make sure my point was being supported enough. Hopefully, I did that successfully without seeming like my thoughts were all over the place.

I wanted to finish two chapters this past week, but I was not able to. I also did not want to force it. So, for next week, I will be tackling the chapter of Community, which will consist of representation, oppression, embrace, culture, beyond words-gestures, hand motions. (The gestures and hand motions are a small part to this chapter). Once again, one of the significant challenges is not sounding redundant and putting information in the “wrong” chapter. For example, I have to make sure what goes in the Community chapter does not go in other sections.

Although there are challenges, I am enjoying the highs and lows of the still early process of my thesis. “Gotta trust the process,” as my father would say.

Until next time! Below is the document link to the chapter Education.

L: Education

Switchin’ It Up!

Well hello there! We are doing this week a little different this week, so I am going to get right to it. Last week I was giving the challenging but exciting task of starting to actual form pieces of my thesis. Last week, I introduced my idea of having a collage of videos, images, text, research, poems, audio, etc. The picture below is how I want it to look. After my thesis meeting, we figured we would start with the first letter B and create a document to put all my information. Since there are five letters, I matched it up with five chapters.

  1. History: What is AAVE? Where did it come from? The importance of it and learning it’s origins?
  2. Education: Mainstream/Standard English. Oakland CA School Board, Ann Arbor, and the use of AAVE in the classroom.
  3. Community: Representation, oppression, embrace, culture, beyond words-gestures, hand motions. (The gestures and hand motions are a small part to this chapter).
  4. Power: Oppression, empowerment, society, racism (covert, institutional, overt, systematic), discrimination, “the upper hand.”
  5. Identity: Family, voice, self, reclaiming, and anecdotes.

fullsizeoutput_1929

It took a lot of music, hanging upside down, and Starbucks to get me to focus and produce the best work I could. Also, to be naturally creative. So this is what I came up with so far for the first letter B: History.

Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 8.31.28 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-08 at 8.31.42 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-08 at 8.31.50 PM

It was difficult to find various pieces of creative work, adding my voice, and a decent amount of research to have a balance. Creating charts was a good way to keep me organized and not overdo it too much. I found artwork, memes, a YouTube video, and I even wrote a poem about Black Language and how it’s captive in the mouths and minds of black Americans. I was also able to add important information from the research notes I had about the history of African American Vernacular English. At the same time, I did not cut my voice short in these charts. My personal opinions and feelings about this topic are within the charts.

This is a very rough and first draft of it, and I am hoping to tighten up the charts and add more content, but I jumped in cold water by doing this, and I am proud of myself. Anyway! We have a bit of a “break” so stay tuned for my next blog!

See ya later!

P.S. I just found this to be so funny! “Don’t use slang. Womp womp womp.” It made me laugh so I figured I would share that with you before I sign off.

Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 9.04.05 PM

Previous Blog!

Black is Beautiful

Black is Beautiful

“People have the impression that African American Vernacular English is nothing more than a collection of errors because that’s how they’ve been socialized. If it’s not Standard English, it’s wrong. So we have this framework that all of us have been indoctrinating to. There’s a right and a wrong in language. Language is always right because there’s always a systematicity. There’s a pattern to it.” -Walt Wolfman

 

Image result for living single gif
Living Single

 

My thoughts exactly Wolfman.

Moving on to the exciting and difficult part of my thesis this week was a process, but a good one. Last week’s class Dr. Zamora was helping me with some ideas as to how I am going to structure my thesis. Short stories? Documentation? Visuals? Images or videos? Audio? Also, what relationship does research have with this thesis? Creative and analytical? This was a lot to tackle over a week, but then I had an idea when Dr. Zamora said the word “collage”. I sketched this image when she said it (and yes I spelled collage wrong but I was rushing so no judging! Please and thank you).

IMG_6131

That picture turned into this:

fullsizeoutput_1929

Here’s my rough idea: Growing up, I knew black was beautiful, but the rest of the world didn’t think so. “You’re not black enough to be a black queen.” “You talk funny.” With this image, I want to show that black is beyond beautiful. It’s rich. It’s royalty. And in each letter of the word “BLACK,” you will see these individual boxes. Within those boxes I want a person to be able to click on them and be able to unravel all of these pieces of research I have been collected. Images, videos, audio, text, etc. I want it to be a multimodal collection that formulates my thesis.

Research would have to play a big part in this thesis because a lot of my thoughts, opinions, and feelings about this topic came from what I read and studied. Since this is a heavy and controversial topic, I will need as much academic and credible support as possible. The last task I had to do was come up with a few chapter ideas:

  1. History: What is AAVE? Where did it come from? The importance of it and learning it’s origins?
  2. Education: Mainstream/Standard English. Oakland CA School Board, Ann Arbor, and the use of AAVE in the classroom.
  3. Community: Representation, oppression, embrace, culture, beyond words-gestures, hand motions. (The gestures and hand motions are a small part to this chapter).
  4. Power: Oppression, empowerment, society, racism (covert, institutional, overt, systematic), discrimination, “the upper hand.”
  5. Identity: Family, voice, self, reclaiming, and anecdotes.
  6. Conclusion (This is a maybe): Where do we go from here? What to do next?

That’s all for now!😊

Here is the link to my Early Proposal Draft (3). The parts that I changed and added some text are highlighted in yellow.

 

“Keep Ya Head Up”

adult alone backlit black and white
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Once again, we are back for Thesis! Storytime: last week I was feeling extremely insecure about my early proposal (#2) that I submitted. I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning just to make sure what I had was good enough, even though I had no idea what I was doing. Needless to say, I don’t think I did that great of a job, but I am still pushing through! As per my previous blogs, I have become very passionate about language, identity, power and the combination of these things when it comes to African Americans and their dialects.

I will be honest, I don’t have much to say in my blog post for this week. However, I will let the notes I have been taking speak for itself. Here were some of the key points and quotes that stood out to me:

  • Tracing the history of BEV, Dillard (1972) notes that early slave traders purposely mixed slaves speaking different languages “so that the slaves could be more easily controlled.” To communicate with each other, the slaves relied on pidgin versions of Portuguese, French, and English that they “had learned in the slave ‘factories’” of West Africa: Slaves sent to French- or to Portuguese-speaking areas found it much easier to communicate in Pidgin French or in Pidgin Portuguese than to find an African language in common; they restricted contact of most of them with their masters precluded their learning the standard language. (p. 22) (pg 123) Elanor Wilson Orr: Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science (1987) Chapter 6: Prepositions in Black English Vernacular
  • Speaking of the difficulty BEV speakers have in learning standard English, Stewart (1969) makes the point: And even though the overall structural difference between Negro  dialect of the most nonstandard kind and standard English of the most formal kind is obviously not as great as between any kind of English and a foreign language like Spanish, this does not necessarily make it easier for the Negro-dialect speaker to acquire an acceptable standard variety of English than for the speaker of Spanish to do so. On the contrary, the subtlety of the structural differences between the two forms of English, masked as they are by the many similarities, may make it almost impossible for the speaker of Negro dialect to tell which patterns are characteristic of nonstandard dialect, and which ones are not. Indeed, this may explain why it is that many immigrant populations have been able to make a more rapid and successful transition from their original foreign language to standard English than migrant Negroes have from their own nonstandard dialect to standard English. (pp. 168-69) (pg 126) Elanor Wilson Orr: Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science (1987) Chapter 6: Prepositions in Black English Vernacular
  • Language acquisition is a subconscious process; while it is happening, we are not aware that we possess any new knowledge; the knowledge is stored in our brains subconsciously. Both children and adults can subconsciously acquire language. Also, both oral and written language can be acquired. (pg 1)Stephen D. Krashen: Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use (2003)

In conclusion, my lack of words on this blog post does not mean I am not working hard. (As per the picture below). I went a little overboard at the library, but I couldn’t help myself! Next week, I will have a more concrete post for you! Until then, check out the notes that I’ve gathered over the past week! (These are just the notes that are typed.)

‘Til Next Week!

IMG_0108

Thesis Notes Links: 

Stephen D. Krashen: Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use (2003)

Key Words and Other Notes

Elanor Wilson Orr: Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science (1987) Chapter 6: Prepositions in Black English Vernacular

Previous Blog Posts! (From Most Recent to Older):

I Ain’t Changin’ Nottin’ Fa Nobody!

Things are Heating Up

Wish I Thought of a Reading List Sooner!

I Ain’t Changin’ Nottin’ Fa Nobody!

adult african american beautiful black and white
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Well, well, welcome back everyone! Spring break was more of a high-speed week instead of a break. But you know what? I’m glad it was. A couple of weeks ago I wanted to give up what I was trying to do for my thesis and start a new topic. I was face to face with an issue that I did not know anything about, the scholars behind it, or the history of it. I was being asked questions from family members that I couldn’t answer and were given answers and opinions from them that I didn’t even ask for. My professor told me to keep going with it. Reluctantly, I did. I doubted myself. Was I smart enough to handle a topic like this? What did I get myself into? Well, this post is to happily tell you that I have hit the jackpot. I opened the door to not only a topic but another world that I can never return back to earth. (Sorry for the mushy-gushy stuff.)

I have gathered so much information and notes from the readings I have been doing that I could not fit it into this post. I would have to make five posts. For time’s sake, I’ll put the links to the different documents of notes I have created for each reading at the end of this blog under the section “Documents: Thesis Notes.” I also have notes on YouTube videos and a documentary as well! I am also proud of myself because it’s been a long time since my mind has been able to think in this way. Creating new ideas and connecting points to readings and my own experiences. After doing some more reading and research, these were the ideas that came to my head, which, I think, is formulating my Burning Question.

  • Why choose between African American Vernacular English and Standard English? Why pick Standard English over African American Vernacular English? What are the benefits (if any)? What’s the consequence?: Losing your identity. (Thought about while reading The Language of Identity by Sonja L. Lanehart)

 

  • White society standard-proper or “Standard English.” Reality: You’ll never reach the white society standard no matter how proper you speak, you’ll always be black. Instead of trying to tear away something that is going to be part of you anyway, just embrace it and learn that there is a deep and enriched history behind it. It’s not just a bunch of words put together that makes no sense. You take away that, you take away a part of not only you but your ancestors and the black community. (Thought about while watching Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin: A Conversation (1971): YouTube Video)

 

  • Sometimes I hear other people speaking “improperly” who are not African American and for the most part, they are not as criticized or ridiculed for it. And if they are, it’s kind of a slap on the wrist, but for black people, it’s a slap in the face.

 

  • Sometimes black English has no words. It’s more than just sounding improper. The way I speak will not be the sole reason or the main reason why I won’t land a job or be successful in the professional world. Hair, skin color, names, money, class, status, all of these other things have more weight to whether or not I am accepted in a particular profession, school, academic setting, etc. than the way I speak. You can’t just say, “Speaking black will not land you a job.” That makes absolutely no sense. I don’t have to open my mouth for a white person to look at me or my name and judge me and not give me whatever they want to give me merely because I am black. People will judge you and automatically think you know less than you do just because of your skin color. So if that is the case, I say accept the way you speak and stop putting down people who do.

 

  • Question: What are the consequences when you remove your language as a black person? My answer: You lose your identity, you lose a part of your history, you lose that sense of community and culture…you lose your blackness. Mind you, my answer is not to say that every single black person in America speaks the same way. However, I am hurt when I hear people say that when black people talk “ghetto” or “improper” then they “make us all look bad,” etc. Even a black person who speaks Standard English will still sing R&B the way it is, which is cutting off the ings at the end of words. That’s not improper, it’s artistic. When you discredit the black language, you are disproving your grandparents, their parents, music, history, art, international connections, movies, television, poetry, literature, and much more! You are cutting the cord to something that belongs to you, and instead of embracing it, you are trying to not only get rid of it, but you’re throwing it in the garbage to be turned into such a negative aspect of the American culture.

Now, I know that Dr. Zamora is going to have my fine tune these ideas more, but I believe I am more grounded with this topic than I was two months ago. After the break, I also had to start thinking about how I am going to put my thesis into a form, which is my methods section. Back in November, when I first started becoming interested in this topic, I was in North Carolina for a funeral. My brother, father, Nana, and Papa stayed with my Aunt Jesse (who is my Papa’s sister). We were sitting around the kitchen table, and I was fascinated with something. I started to pay attention to the way they were speaking. Specifically my grandparents and Aunt Jesse. People who speak Standard English will believe they are not talking correctly. However, putting aside the fact that they all have Southern accents, they were, in fact, speaking African American Vernacular English or Black English.

This is what I heard my entire life. This is how I picked up my own accent and way of speaking. Even the laughs, hand gestures, body movements, all of that is Black English! I want to document or record myself and my family sitting around the table and talking. After church on Sunday at dinner or when we’re all hanging out. There is a very beautiful rhythm when we are speaking together that I want to capture the rawness of that. On the other end of that spectrum, I also want to record myself in a setting outside of the comfort of my home. Such as work, school, or in front of my professors and classmates. I want to capture how wonderful and actually better it is when a person knows how to codeswitch and speak more than one dialect. (Just an idea!)

Last night I was talking to one of my classmates after class, and I asked her how she was doing since we haven’t spoken all semester. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Hey girl, what’s up? How are you doing? We haven’t really talked in a while.

Her: “Girl, I be stressin’!” 

Simple conversation right? We laughed after she said that because I understood her! Now, in Standard or “proper” English, this is what she said, “I am under a lot of stress.” Even while typing her sentence in the blog, a red line came under “I.” The system wanted me to say, “I am stressing” or “I will be stressing.” This was me speaking my dialect to someone else who speaks that dialect. I felt comfortable. I didn’t have to try too hard to think about what I’m going to say next. I also did not have to be concerned about whether or not she understood me or if I understood her. Now, in the classroom setting, we both speak Standard English. (She does more than I do actually.) But the class was over, and we knew that we had the green light to code switch into our natural dialect.

Also, I attempted to write another proposal, which I already sent out. I can’t wait to receive feedback on it because this one is definitely more developed than the first one.

I am still studying and researching, but I am ready for some methods and writing! (I think) Here are the documents of notes and also if you want to listen to the videos from my family in NC, I put a private YouTube link below so you can listen and enjoy!

See you all tomorrow!

Documents: Thesis Notes

Sonja Lanehart: The Language of Identity

Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children

Nikki Giovanni & James Baldwin: A Conversation

Key Words/Phrases/Other Notes

Talking Black in America Documentary Notes

Video Links

Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin Video

NC Family Conversations 1

NC Family Conversations 2

NC Family Conversations 3

NC Family Conversations 4

NC Family Conversations 5

Things are Heating Up

General Question: How’s everyone’s thesis process going?  😊

Image result for quotes about coffee and thesis
Google Images

The more I dive into my deep reading, the more excited I become about my thesis and the whole process of studying a topic that has become close to my heart, almost like a child. (Mind you, I have no children, but I do have a lot of nieces and nephews.) I am very protective of this topic of AAVE (African American Vernacular English); but beyond that, I am curious about it. I want to know it’s “favorite color” or “what makes it itch,” I want to know every single detail and as much as possible. Studying and taking notes more this past week made me realize that I forgot I was in a class for this and eventually will receive a grade for this. I am working hard to produce something pretty awesome for my own pleasure and ambitions. With that being said, let’s dive in!

So last week I was relieved to know that I am on the right track! (Phew). The reading list that I had in my previous blog was a good start to building a Literature Review. Obviously, between working full time and going to school full time, I can’t read 20 pieces of literature in seven days. So for now, I started with four new readings and one continuation.

  1. Bell Hooks: Black Looks, Race and Representation: This book had so many interesting points when it came to talking about black people and the way their representation effects not only their lives but how it’s metaphorically embedded in their DNA when it comes to their clothes or music. However, that representation is considered cool or current, but when it comes down to history or what a black person deals with daily, it’s considered everything under the sun except being cool. Within the first chapter, I saw a lot of great points that she made that could be used in my thesis (possibly), but I don’t see this being a book that is the main part of it. Here are the points that could be used for my thesis:
  • “We have to change our own mind…we’ve got to change our own minds about each other. We have to see each other with new eyes. We have to come together with warmth…” -Malcolm X (Hooks, pg 16)
  • Every aware black person who has been the “only” in an all-white setting knows that in such a position we are often called upon to lend an ear to racist narratives, to laugh at corny race jokes, to undergo various forms of racist harassment. (pg 16)
  • And that self-segregation seems to be particularly intense among those black college students who were often raised in material privilege in predominately white settings where they were socialized to believe racism did not exist, that we were all “just human beings,” and then suddenly leave home and enter institutions and experience racist attacks. (pg 16)
  • While it has become “cool” for white folks to hang out with black people and express pleasure in black culture, most white people do not feel that this pleasure should be linked to unlearning racism…(pg 17)
  • As long as black folks are taught that the only way we can gain any degree of economic self-sufficiency or be materially privileged is by first rejecting blackness, our history, and culture, then there will always be a crisis in black identity. (pg 18)
  • Internalized racism will continue to erode collective struggle for self-determination. (pg 18)

2. Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Freire is a brilliant scholar and based off of this book I truly admire what he writes about. However, like Hooks, I feel as if this is not what my thesis is going to be surrounded by. He spoke about oppressors and oppressed and how these groups work in the world of class, power, race, and identity. I can see this being apart of my thesis literature review, but for a Doctorate Degree. His points and topic would broaden my specific topic of AAVE too much instead of helping focus on one thing. These points I found interesting:

  • The “fear of freedom” which afflicts the oppressed, a fear which may equally well lead them to desire the role of the oppressor or bind them to the role of oppressed, should be examined. (pg 46)
  • The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. (pg 47)
  • Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility, (pg 47)
  • Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man, nor is it an idea which becomes a myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion. (pg 47)
  • However, the oppressed, who have adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed, and have become resigned to it, are inhibited from waging the struggle for freedom so long as they feel incapable for running the risks it requires. Moreover, their struggle for freedom threatens not only the oppressor but also their own oppressed comrades who are fearful of still greater repression. (pg 47).
  • The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They can not see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own “effort” with their “courage to take risks.” If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the “generous gestures” of the dominant class. Precisely because they are “ungrateful” and “envious” the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched. (pg 59)

3. Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom: This book has so many points and pieces of information that I have a separate Google Doc just for Delpit. (Click Here to see it). There were specific quotes that I would like to mention here because they made me think about my “Burning Question” and I feel like I am getting closer to finding out what it is.

  • The children in Trackton, in short, read to learn things, for real purposes. When these children arrived in school they faced another reality, They were required, instead, to “learn to read,” that is, they were told to focus on the process of reading with little apparent real purposes in mind other than to get through a basal page or complete a worksheet – and much of this they were to accomplish in isolation, Needless to say, they were not successful at the decontextualized, individualized school reading tasks. (pg 63)
  • Those who have acquired additional codes because their local language differs significantly from the language of the national culture may actually be in a better position to gain access to the global culture than “mainstream” Americans who, as Martha says, “only know one way to talk.” Rather than think of these diverse students as problems, we can view them instead as resources who can help all of us learn what it feels like to move between cultures and language varieties, and thus perhaps better learn how to become citizens of the global community. (pg 69)
  • Rather than teach decontextualized operations, she would typically first pose a “real-life” problem and challenge the students to find a solution. (pg 65)
  • To give some background information, Delpit gave examples and quoted other scholars and teachers; they were making the point that black students learn in a different way than white students would. There needs to be a purpose for learning and using it for real-life situations. Black students do not have a disadvantage because they speak AAVE, but rather it is the concept of learning differently. Here is the example I thought of:
  • My favorite TV is A Different World (About students at an HBCU (Historically Black College)). One of the characters, Lena James, comes from a rough neighborhood in Baltimore but comes to college to receive an education. She is having trouble with calculus until her professor, Dwayne Wayne, is able to relate calculus to something she is passionate about or something she could relate to. It is present that she speaks AAVE but is certainly not dumb or “less than” because of it. All the professor had to do was relate it to the student, and she succeeded. (The part I’m talking about stops at 31 seconds of the video. Also, I apologize for the bad quality!)

 

So far, I have two main points for my thesis. The first one comes from the quote I made in my previous blog about people or specifically students who can speak in more than one way, as an advantage. The stigma that African Americans speak “improper” is considered “less than” but in reality, they know how to speak in two ways (or more), which would be AAVE and “Standard English.” The second one is that AAVE is not acceptable in an academic setting but what about if the language could be accepted in the classroom, would there be a change in grades, behavior, and confidence in the students? Delpit and her fellow scholars say yes.

3. Felicia R. Lee: Lingering Conflict in the Schools: Black Dialect vs. Standard Speech: This article was amazing and on point with its context! Lee spoke about dialect and the importance of it. It seems as if dialect as far as it referring to one’s identity has been not only swept under the rug but totally disregarded and viewed as negative. Lee was able to show both sides of the argument when it came down to “who is responsible for black students not knowing how to speak properly?” but also, “who is responsible for stripping away their dialect in general?” What I also liked about this reading was that I was able to make connections to other readings and materials that I am studying. Here are the points that I could use for my thesis:

  • The black vernacular has steadily diverged from standard English and becomes more widespread in poor, urban neighborhoods.
  • The persistence of the dialect reflects, in part, the growing resistance of some black young people to assimilate and their efforts to use language as part of a value system that prizes cultural distinction. It also stems from the increasing isolation of black inner-city residents from both whites and middle-class blacks and stems as well from a deep cynicism (an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism) about the payoffs of conforming.
  • An absence of clear policy: Teachers are largely left to devise their own methods.
  • In some neighborhoods, young people acknowledge an element of resistance, and even a stigma, to using standard English or “talking proper”.
  • “English is not our language,” said Takiyah Hudson, a 17-year-old high school senior who lives in Harlem. She said her mother and sister correct her English when she slips into a black dialect, which she does not use in formal situations.
  • The issue is exquisitely sensitive, going beyond nouns and verbs to questions of racial identity and class, as well as the politics of education. There is some sentiment among the black middle class that the vernacular legitimizes poor grammar. Others blame schools for not teaching standard English better because teachers have low educators of the dialect, say it is time to become more sophisticated in the classroom.
  • Francesca Charles, a 17-year-old junior at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, said students who speak only in dialect are not understood outside their communities. “People don’t understand you, or they put words in your mouth. That’s why they’re viewed so badly,” she said.
  • “During slavery, blacks created their own langauge The students create their own language to communicate among themselves,” she said. *This will be a connection to another piece of material that I am studying.*
  • Ramon C. Cortines, the Schools Chancellor, said teachers need to correct their students’ English and prepare them for the mainstream. “I don’t know of any jobs or any college where a prerequisite is a dialect,” Mr. Corintes said. “The problem with American education is we get caught up in fads and don’t teach the basics.”
  • “The problem is not the students but many of my colleagues,” said a Bronx elementary schoolteacher who did not warn her name used. “We need to stop finding excuses for not teaching. When my students use bad English, I tell them it is bad English and that it has nothing to do with the color of their skin.”
  • Jo-Ann Graham, chairwoman of the department of communication at the Bronx Community College, said teaching standard English is not simply cleaning up grammatical lapses. “It is not just saying, ‘You don’t say “they is” you say “they are,”‘ she said. “You have to teach the structure, the vocabulary, the sound system, the grammar just as if you were teaching another language.
  • The country’s largest school system to use such an approach is Los Angeles. Its “Proficiency in English” program, started in 1978, uses methods like repetitive drills to teach standard English like a second language. Several other California school districts, including Oakland, Sacramento, and Vallejo, use similar programs.
  • Contrastive analysis: Used by programs
  • Examples
  • Bidialectalism: Students retain their home or community dialect while learning and using the Standard English dialect of the school and larger society. (The format of this instruction is based upon the pedagogy of foreign language teaching and incorporates the used of contrastive analysis. Specifically, this approach compares Standard English phonological and syntactic features with those of the students’ dialect and is structured so that students can observe how their own linguistic features differ from those of Standard English.)
  • Ms. Wright-Lewis, a teacher at Boys and Girls High School in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn has students write and rewrite assignments. She makes them give oral presentation and participate in discussions that she privately assesses for syntax and grammar. She writes her own stories for students, in which characters switch back and forth between standard and non-standard English. And she corrects her students in private to help protect their fragile self-esteem. 
  • Diallo Robinson, 17, a senior at the East New York High School for Transit Technology, agrees that using the dialect is a matter of choice: “I don’t think language is not being taught adequately but that students choose not to fall in the line of being better than your brother or sister.
  • Mr. Evans, who teaches at Thomas Jefferson High School, said: “Needless to say, by the time they go to high school it’s an uphill battle,”. “The African-American inner-city kid has to turn it off and turn it on and be, in effect, bilingual.” “I tell them innate intelligence is not enough. If you speak well, it can solve a myriad of problems,” Mr. Evans said. “What they require is to see more men and women of color who are in power, who speak a certain way or dress a certain way.”

4. Alice Lee: Why “Correcting” African American Language Speakers is Counterproductive: I found this article to be amazing as far as background information of AAVE, knowing the difference between dialect and language, referencing major scholars in this topic, and also giving personal stories and experiences in order to understand why correct speakers of AAVE is, as she puts it, “counterproductive.” Lee has so many points surrounding what I want my thesis to be about, that I will only put down a few main points. The rest of the main quotes will be in a separate document, which you can click here.

  • Lee’s “Burning Questions”: Aren’t we doing our students a disservice by allowing them to talk like that in the classroom when they’ll be expected to speak standard English in the real world?
  • I also became more attuned to the ways teachers’ lack of knowledge about AAL (African American Language) played a role in their instruction.
  • Her professor: She informed me that AAL usage was only acceptable at home.
  • In this article, I would like to address the topic of AAL usage in the classroom, particularly the line of thinking that assumes “correcting” the language is what will “set students up for success” in the future. By providing some abbreviated information on how children acquire language, I will explain how AAL “correction” is not only a faulty perspective (since AAL is linguistically legitimate), actually counterproductive for student “success” – in both language acquisition and learning. Additionally, I will offer practical suggestions for how AAL can be incorporated into curriculum and instruction.
  • My goal in this article is not to provide a comprehensive linguistic background for AAL, but to provide cursory information to help readers understand why AAL is and should be considered a “real” language.
  • The term, African American Language, has also been referred to as Ebonics, African American Vernacular English, Black English, Black Vernacular English, and is defined by Smitherman (2006) in the following way: “Black or African American Language (BL or AAL) a style of speaking English words with Black flava-which Africanized semantic, grammatical, pronunciation rhetorical patterns. AAL comes out of the experience of U.S. slave descendants, This shared experience has resulted in common speaking has resulted in common speaking styles, systematic patterns of grammar, and common language practices in the Black community (pg 3).
  • The difference between a language and dialect is often defined by whether or not it is understood by speakers within the same group.
  • Smitherman argues, therefore, that what is considered a dialect versus a language is not solely based on linguistics, but involves decision-making entrenched in power.
  • As linguistics, both Labov and Smitherman have documented how AAL is systematically governed by rules-a defining marker for what is considered a “real” language.

For next week, I’m going to write about literacy and multiple literacies and why it’s important for my thesis. Also, a few scholars that I will be talking about will be Elaine Richardson, Sonja L. Lanehart, and more Lisa Delpit. I also will be talking about a documentary that I found about Black English! It’s the first documentary about AAVE, and I can’t wait to share my notes about it!

‘Til Next Time!

(Also: If you want to watch A Different World, it’s on Prime Video!)

Image result for a different world
Google Images

Wish I Thought of a Reading List Sooner!

adult blur books close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Two weeks ago, I was given the challenging task of diving into a deep reading of various books and articles from scholars in the topic I want to look at for my thesis. (African American Vernacular English or AAVE for short). Although I am only a month into the process of my thesis, finding exactly what I want to discuss. During our Peer Review session two weeks ago, I discovered that my thesis seems to be wet cement. I am holding bricks in my hand to build a foundation, but I don’t know where to put the bricks or where to start. I know that the subject of AAVE is what I am wholeheartedly passionate about but what exactly?

I am happy and proud to say that my deep reading and studying of the reading list below was a success. I wish it were something that I had thought about earlier, then maybe I would be a little further along in my thesis. However, nothing was lost. Once you check out the reading list, it is ambitious to finish everything in two weeks. As I was reading Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, there was something that stood out to me, and it made me think that maybe this was where I could place my bricks. Native American teacher Martha Demientieff states this in Delpit’s book:

“We have to feel a little sorry for them because they have only one way to talk. We’re going to learn two ways to say things. Isn’t that better? One way will be our Heritage way. The other will be Formal English. Then, when we go to get jobs, we’ll be able to talk like those people who only know and can only really listen to one way. Maybe after we get the jobs, we can help them to learn how it feels to have another language, like ours, that feels so good. We’ll talk like them when we have to, but we’ll always know our way is best.” (pg 41)

In my previous blog, I expressed the concern or more the need to not write about my family for my thesis and focus on how language and the use of AAVE have affected not only me but my academic self. I am not going to fully exclude my family, but if you read the blog, you’ll see a few reasons why I want to go down a different path. I haven’t spoken to my professor or class about this decision yet, but I do believe I have done the right thing. I was about to focus on how language plays a part in forming one’s identity at a higher level and more than we think. The quote above from Demientieff perfectly articulates what I’m trying to develop my thesis around. (I think.) After reading that passage, I thought to myself, Yeah, why can’t we learn how to say things in two different ways?. I think about second language speakers of Polish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, or French who are deemed to be skilled when balancing multiple languages even though their language use of Standard English is not always at its best. They may get a pass because they speak [set languages stated above]. However, when it comes to AAVE, switching languages seems to have a negative connotation to it. As if someone who speaks AAVE is considered having less knowledge or unintelligent.

Now, I do understand that when it comes to African Americans who speak this form of English has had ancestors who were denied access to education, and it was illegal for them to learn how to read and write. However, because of these limitations, we (the speakers of AAVE) have formulated a beautiful and complex language filled with vocabulary, grammar, and rhythm. We too can code-switch (switching back and forth from both languages) and know when and where to use Standard English and AAVE. I’m rambling, but I guess what I’m trying to say is: If it’s better to know two ways to say something, then why doesn’t my language fit in this category and not accepted? 

I’ll be honest, I still need help developing a thesis statement, but I do feel as if I am coming along well with the beginning stages of this process.

Reading List:

  • Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom (2006)
  • Bell Hooks: Race and Representation (1992)
  • Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2005)
  • John R. Rickford: What is Ebonics (African American English)? (2012)
  • Alice Lee: Why “Correcting” African American Language Speakers is Counterproductive (2017)
  • Felicia R. Lee: Lingering Conflict in the Schools: Black Dialect vs. Standard Speech (1994)
  • Samuel A. Perez: Using Ebonics or Black English as a Bridge to Teaching Standard English (1999)
  • John Baugh: American Varieties: African Amerian English: Ebony + Phonics (2005)
  • Sonja L. Lanehart: African American Vernacular English and Education: The Dynamics of Pedagogy, Ideology, and Identity (1998)
  • Liberation Education Project: African American Vernacular English (2017)
  • Tylah Silva: What’s the Difference Between Slang and AAVE?: Understanding the Cultural History of Language is Critical When Deciding Whether to Bae or not to Bae (2017)
  • Lisa Delpit: The Skin that We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom (2002) *Recently added to the list*
  • *This isn’t a book but it’s part of my research* The documentary Talking Black in America (Click Here for the link to their website).

I am excited to present what I have for class tomorrow but also nervous! I want this thesis to be at my best.

Until Next Week Y’all!

Previous Blogs for Pleasure Reading:

Jumping to the Halfway Point: Too Early for a Breakdown?

Hop in the Delorean…We’re Going for a Ride

Jumping to the Halfway Point: Too Early for a Breakdown?

clear bubble on sand
Photo by ‪Dima Visozki‬‏ on Pexels.com

I’ve always heard the saying, “A girl can change her mind, can’t she?” -Unknown, from television and movies. However, when it comes to my academic studying and thesis, could I actually change my mind? Is it too late?

Lemme break it down. 

The day after our Valentine’s Day class I was not only excited about the further steps of my thesis, I was energized by the unknown knowledge that I still have to discover. It seems as if my mind has become “obsessed” about language and identity within the African American community. It’s not because I am not interested in other languages and culture; it’s more because there is, in fact, a name, a coined term for the way I speak at home that goes beyond “just talking English.” It’s not Ebonics either. African American English or African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is what I heard in my house growing up and even when I went to my grandparents’ house. I never thought they spoke incorrectly. It was as simple as, I heard, I understood, I communicated back. As I became more passionate about the power of this subject and newly found territory, I was eager to share what I have studied so far with my family. Unfortunately, this approach took a wrong turn.

As I expressed specific concerns and questions to a couple of family members, very close ones, and my thesis was…well…ripped to shreds. Pulverized. Torn apart. Torn from limb to limb. (You get the idea.) Now, these family members are brilliant with multiple degrees in THEIR particular field of study. I delivered the very early foundation of my thesis, which was how AAVE has not been given the opportunity to evolve as a means of declaring something that’s ours. Long story short, I had not one but two breakdowns. I doubted myself and was hard on myself. I live for my family’s approval, and when I don’t receive it, it’s almost as if a switch turns off in my brain. I’m not smart enough. I can’t do this. Blah Blah Blah.  I spoke to my boyfriend about this and basically brought my breakdown to him. (I mean, I was very ugly crying and hyperventilating.) After he calmed me down, he told me, “I don’t expect you to have the answers to everything. Nobody does!” That’s when it clicked for me.

I have decided to not include my family in my thesis, and I have a few reasons why:

  1. From before I was born, I had a swarm of support from family and even non-family members who just knew I had a great purpose in my life. I mean, why else would I be born 14 years after my brother? There had to be a reason. However, I never had the chance to breathe and figure it out on my own.
  2. For as long as I could remember, I was told, “you’re so smart” or “you know better than that” (even though I was seven). I never had the chance to stop and think, what am I smart in? What is something that could be just for Vee and not something that everyone has an opinion on? My family is my life, but I think it’s time that some things in my life need to be just for me.
  3. My whole undergraduate thesis was about my family, for 90 pages. It’s not because I have nothing else to write about, but it’s like I mentioned before. My family is my life. Also, there are some pretty interesting stories that I felt was important to write about. I think for this thesis, it’s time to separate from my family and see what I can write and produce on my own.

Now, on to a more lighter note; I have been reading and studying the books, articles, and authors that were suggested from last class along with some articles I found on my own. I also took the peer review notes from class and have been trying to make a clearer thesis statement and focus on what I am trying to accomplish with this thesis. Specifically something my fellow classmate Kelli said, “Make it clearer how you are going to approach this issue and how much you is going to be in this?” What’s making me nervous at this point is that I still don’t have a clear question. “The burning question,” as Dr. Zamora would call it, is what I lack so far. What I am hoping is that my reading list and early research will help me develop a clear question and thesis statement.

Since I am separating this thesis from my family, I am wondering if simply using my own experiences will be enough. I will check back in a week and share my notes from my research.

Until Next Time! ♥

Other Blogs!

Hop in the Delorean…We’re Going for a Ride

“At the Family Reunion! Who We Introducin’? Who We Introducin’?”