Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"No Child Left Behind": even the ones we can't understand.

Some days I hate driving into Center City, Philadelphia, to go to my plantation. On certain days I like to drive to the train station, and leave the rest of my commute to SEPTA. Today was such a day.

So I am on my way home, chilling on the train, and deep into my thoughts. I am thinking about this upcoming election and what is now looking like (if you believe all the pundits and polls) a sure Obama victory. Lawd get ready to paint the white house black y'all. And I am thinking about my little pledge to run down Broad Street au natural if the O man wins, and how I am going to pull that shit off. PHILADELPHIA LAWYER ARRESTED FOR INDECENT EXPOSURE AFTER BEING CAUGHT RUNNING DOWN BROAD STREET, NAKED. "§ 3127. Indecent exposure. (a) Offense defined.--A person commits indecent exposure if that person exposes his or her genitals in any public place or in any place where there are present other persons under circumstances in which he or she knows or should know that this conduct is likely to offend, affront or alarm." DAMN!

So anywho, this post isn't about that; it's about what transpired next. About two stops into my ride, one of my "cousins" gets on the train, and proceeds to sit right in front of me. She is talking on the cell phone, and as my "cousins" tend to be from time to time, she is being very loud. She is talking non-stop, and she is talking very very fast. And then it struck me; I didn't understand a fucking word she was saying. Not one. The young lady certainly seemed like she was an A-merry-can, since I am pretty sure she was speaking with an A-merry-can accent. I tried to pay attention for a minute, just to make sure she was speaking English. That much I determined was true, she was speaking what was meant to be English: Gurl i tol dat bitch it ain't even dat serious see what i'm sayin cause if it was yo ass wouldn't even be speaking on dat shit fo real like i am goin play myself over some dum shit with these niggers when i know i can dip in dat shit on a major fo real i mean i told har to jus squash dat shit befo it got real serious fo real like das wat i be sayin fo real like what i cant get up in yo ass too bitch youze be seriously trippin nigga if you don't think i was like what is you be talking about on de real nigga your jawn be seriously fucked up .........I hope you were speed reading, because that is the only way you could get an idea of how fast my "cousin" was talking. Oh, did I mention that she had a high school uniform on? Yes, I am pretty sure she wasn't old enough to get her driver's license. Of field, stop it, how do you know that the girl isn't a straight A student, and she isn't just talking that way with her friends to shoot the breeze? I thought about that for a minute, just a minute. But sorry, my life experiences living here in the city says otherwise.

Wow! Okay, so let's say Obama is elected, how much emphasis will he put on education? I am no big fan of the frat boy's no child left behind initiative, but I think the frat boy had the right idea. "The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations"? Unfortunately, like with everything else, his administration was incompetent in how they tried to carry it out. The O man needs to pick up that ball and run with it. Public school education reform and accountability needs to be one of his top priorities, if and when he does takes office. "If".

I dont know what dude is looking at fo real gurl some bald headed ving rhames dude looking like dude from the geen mile an shit all up in my flavor shit mother fucker can't have a conversation an shit without motherfuckers all up in yours so anyway gurl i to told that nigga i know you don't think i am going to suck your dick or some shit....

The hell with that statute, I will definitely be glad to make that run. "Yes we can"!


Anonymous said...

The school didn't teach her to talk that way and I doubt they can change the way people talk to friends. It's kind of bilingual thing at best. Optimism and the desire to please teachers and parents is what makes kids succeed in school. Let me know when you figure out how to do that.


Jody said...

Oh my friggin god! You drank the kool-aid!!! And, your attorneys are waiting for you at the end of the run..... LOL!!!!!

Anonymous said...

That is a misdemeanor I hope. We might have to cut you some slack if your license is going to be in jeopardy.

Anonymous said...

Although I agree that public education needs more government investment, we need to take some of these parents to task that haven't fostered any intellectual stimulation in these kids. We talk a good game on education in America but we hate educated people and really hate learning as a larger culture IMO.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Hey Field, Two posts in a row on my favorite topics. . . WV Politics and Education.
Hell yes O Man better grab hold of the reins of education and kick in soome big bucks, but he also has to use that sweet charm of his to convince the citizenry that education really IS the most important investment we can make in the future. . . not the future next week or next year, but the future 20, 30, 50 years from now. IF we care about what our kids and g'kids inherit, we'd better renew Amurkkka's commitment to education.

Anonymous said...

I learned many of my first words in English from Romper Room and, although my voice has a trace of Texas drawl, especially after I've spent a week or two with my sister, it's still more Walter Chronkite than Molly Ivins. My half-brother, who grew up with a different mother, has a drawl so thick that he is nearly unintelligible to me at times, but he's a smart fella in spite of it. I've seen Bill Cosby perform live, and I know he can conjure up the voices of his childhood at will, in spite of the PhD.

I'd kinda hate to see us all become so homogenized that we all sound like the mid-west newscaster in another generation or two. Bilingual is good, as szpork says.

{putting on lawyer hat} Field, did you ever specify how *far* down Broad Street you would run?

Anonymous said...

Frankly, you may have already figured out that I'm not a fan of Obama's education plan. At all. You remember how I was sippin' the Kool-Aid last week? After that last debate on education, I spit it out to the side of the road. While I'm completely against McCain's plan of vouchers, I really don't see Obama's plan as much better either. As a matter of fact, this really might be one of those instances where he really is reaching across the aisle. His plan for charter schools, etc. is a huge blow to unions, whom have given him practically unanimous support.

I also find that, even with that sort of language, it's easy to look at the kid and be a fatalist (which I'm not saying you're doing, but others might). Let's instead focus on the ideas behind the person's day-to-day, and that's what many of the good teachers I'm seeing these days focus on. Interesting. I wonder what others are thinking on this, too.

hottnikz said...

I agree, the frat boy intentions may have been good when it comes to No Child Left Behind. Buy punishing schools for not meeting nat'l testing standards didn't work too well though. It only caused the schools to basically work the system. I'll never forget those episodes of The Wire when they the schools had the students study test questions in order to pass standardized tests. That's exactly what is happening in some of our public schools here in Philly. No surprise she talks like that. They won't even teach phonics in Philly schools anymore. Phonics! I will never understand that, no matter how many times school officials try to explain it to me. I went out and purchased my own books and made sure my son was taught the basics.
I also have high hopes Obama will address this when he is in office. The sooner the better for us all. Obama is the only candidate I've heard mention education in the debates.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to join Sharon in trying to give you some latitude in making good on that bet. Sure, in all fairness to the spirit of the bet, you should suffer some uncomfortable shrivel-inducing environmental exposure. But in addition to making it a short run, consider having two friends in vans driving side by side (assuming there are at least two lanes in the same direction to choose from) very slowly, protecting you from easy view curbside and allowing you for a hasty getaway in one or the other.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 22 08

Hehheheeh Sho you right FN! I DO strongly believe that many Black American students should be taken to Resource for English as a second language. This one guy started a program with a lot of success teaching standard American English to Black kids. I used to get teased in East Oakland for 'talking proper' but my parents are both teachers so they would correct me if my grammar was wrong. Not that I am an expert in speaking English, but that I can speak such that many can understand me;)

Anonymous said...

These things:

1. Reach the parents and have them do this: Sit down to dinner with their child, and make sure their child spends a couple hours a night in a quiet room with NO distractions.

2. In schools, end this idea that to be smart and studious = "acting white" = bad news.

3. Electronic entertainment is limited to 1 hour a night.

Do those things, and 25 years from now things will be better. Period.

Anonymous said...

You owe it to your long-time readers -- especially the hardcore Obamaholics -- to provide some verification of the nakedness! Make sure Mrs. Field has the camera ready.

Anonymous said...

What education plan the "O" man has, if her wins, will not make a difference in that girl's language. It's too ingrained. Plus, people have to want to change, and I'm afraid that there are so many of our cousins who simply do not wish to do so. Change comes from within.

Anonymous said...

{older topic} This is the picture Colin Powell was referring to:

Anonymous said...

{obligatory feel-good video of the day}

Babies can't lie

Anonymous said...


Slap a sock on that carne and some duct tape on the crack of dat ass. This should eliminate your problem with the law. No ducking out hometeam. A bet is a bet.

The girl was probably bi-lingual like most Black people. After a hard day at work or school (usually the only Black in sight) speaking "proper," you want to chill on dat when you're at home or with your peeps; you want to talk in your native lingo: jive.

At least that's the way it is in San Diego.

Swiff said...

Jeese Lee Peterson....smh. I swear, that brotha would snitch on Denmark Vesey.

Anonymous said...

These things:

1. Reach the parents and have them do this: Sit down to dinner with their child, and make sure their child spends a couple hours a night in a quiet room with NO distractions.

2. In schools, end this idea that to be smart and studious = "acting white" = bad news.

3. Electronic entertainment is limited to 1 hour a night.

Do those things, and 25 years from now things will be better. Period.


There is a problem with what I wrote. Two-thirds of births to black woman are out-of-wedlock, so in #1 above, change "parents" to "parent."

One-quarter of all births to white women are out-of-wedlock, so for whites you can still say "parents."

But this obscures something else: Black illegitimacy rates have been falling (not fast enough, but still they are falling) while white illegitimacy rates have been exploding.

Single parenthood is a ticket to the underclass. Not always, but often. If people want to change things, they should change illegitimacy too.

Susan Gray said...

Field, here's just a little bit about why No Child Left Behind WAS a good idea. From 1976 on, schools were obliged to deal with special education and kids with disabilities and were no longer able to say they had to go to a "special school". Many students were regulated to one classroom all day, no matter their disabiity. Some may have been severely cognitively impaired, but some were only orthopedically impaired (think cerebral palsy)and maybe in wheelchairs, and there were many, many more who were somewhere in between. For about 20 years, if a student was identified as having any special ed need, they spent most of their school day in the "resource room" AND they were exempt from state testing. So, we did not really have to teach them. Unbelievable as this is...I saw this far too often first hand. Eighth graders who could not read one word, and who were just passed along year after year, with little concern for their futures. Then came the Shrub, and NCLB, and we have had yearly standards for testing in math and reading, and we have ALL known what the standards were and what they were going to be each year down the road. BUT, here's the kicker....we have to include all those special ed kids AND all those bilingual kids coming to us from Mexico who do not speak a word of English, but they have to take the test anyway. So the upshot has been that in many school districts here in Texas, most students are in the same classes as their peers, and only go to the resource room for a tiny portion of the day to get extra help. Now they have to pass the test and now we have to actually teach them like everybody else. OK..I know this is long. But the biggest problem with NCLB is that they did NOT fund it!!! It has been great for our special ed kids, but stretched school districts beyond belief! Hopefully Obama will fund this because NCLB is not all bad.

Anonymous said...

I speak with a little bit of a Texas drawl, but at least I'm mindful to pronounce my "G"s 98% of the time.

Field, how's the training for your Broad Street Streak coming along? :)

field negro said...

"You drank the kool-aid!!!"

No Jody, not quite. I just sipped it without the strong dose of O ingredients in it:)

And you Obamaholics better stop counting your chickens. I think it's still 50 50 for that run.

anon. 11:19PM, I actually like your plan. But good luck with getting it into action.

"Slap a sock on that carne and some duct tape on the crack of dat ass. This should eliminate your problem with the law. No ducking out hometeam. A bet is a bet."

Black nasty, I feel you. I will not back out of my promise if the O man wins. Although I might have to cut my run down to one city block. I think someone above suggested it.

It's amazing how responsible we get as we get older. Back in the day, I would have thought nothing of jogging all the way down the Avenue of the Arts with my johnson flapping in the cool night air.:)

sfd928,like Jose, you seem to be a teacher. That's funny, because Jose doesn't like NCLB, but you do. I think, honestly, it would work for me if the feds didn't have so much control. Why can't they let the states have more control over the standards that they set? And like Jose said; I think they put too much pressure on the teachers. Let's be honest, these poor teachers can only do so much.

Still, if done right, I think it can work. At least it looks like it can in theory. I am not an educator, so I am not in a position to say exactly what is needed. I just know that we need something.

"Jeese Lee Peterson....smh. I swear, that brotha would snitch on Denmark Vesey."

LMMFAO!!! Swiff, where do you get your lines? That was too funny. :)


Your driver said...

Let us try not to sound like cranky old men. As one commenter suggests, the girl is probably bilingual.

I'm a bus driver. A while ago, I was picking up a whole busload of high school kids every afternoon. I had do a little of the "laying down the law thing" which I dislike.

There was one group of girls who were unbelievably foul mouthed. They were among the last to get off and I was preparing to give them a big ol' dumb lecture on their language deportment, blah blah blah, when one of them asked if she could take my trash can.

I couldn't imagine what they needed it for, so she explained, "We picked up all the trash in the back of your bus, and we wanted to throw it away for you." So, they filled the trash can and put it back when they got off.

I thanked them but I mentioned their language. They laughed a little, but I reminded them that they needed to show some respect for old folks and little kids on the bus.

They said, "OK, we know. There was no one but kids on the bus." Which was true.

Sure enough, for the rest of my time on that run, they shrieked curses like little demons unless there were old people or little kids on the bus. I considered that to be a fair enough deal.

They were really very nice young women, but darn it all, they didn't act the way I expected.

I suppose this has nothing to do with NCLB, but try to give kids themselves a little credit.

Mr. Noface said...

I think your are right concerning that young woman's "learning" Field, if she were a straight "A" student, I feel like some of what we like to call proper english would find its way into that string of words and half words that were machine gunning out of her mouth (or maybe that's just me).

As for the statute, if you sufficiently cover your private parts or pick a time to streak while no one but a trusted friend with a camera is around. If you get caught by the authorities, you can say that all those people that voted for Obama robbed you of your argument (that A-merry-ca would elect a black president like Obama) and your clothes.

Mark said...

She could be a "black friend" for some white person, and they could have an exchange, you know, the white person could spice up his or her talk with some new turns of phrase, and the girl could learn how to say darling, I'm incredibly bored. As for the run, just announce it beforehand: due to contractual obligations with the virtual community, I will make this run, au natural, but without any malicious intent,etc.

ZACK said...

No Child Left Behind doesn't work because it is more legislative in nature than it is practical.

Whether or not black kids make it is WAY more complex than a cute little rule that Bush came up with. In fact, his "rule" makes things tougher for kids. They become pawns in an educational system that isn't designed for their benefit in the first place.

Ask me. A product of the Chicago Public Schools. I am the one that slipped through the cracks, caught the doorknob before it hit me where the good lord split me, and dodged the soup line just in time. You're not going to find a lot of 24 year old brothas in Chicago doin' what I'm doing. And it's not because I'm smarter. Hell naw. If I was smart, somebody would hire my black ass.

It's because school is not relevant to most kids in the inner-city.

Kids care about what our "cousin" was talking about on that train ride. Personal appearance, social acceptance (which is a byproduct of personal appearance) and just enjoying what they can of their already miserable lives. Their lives are miserable because nobody seems to care except YOU, me and a few others. And our concerns get ignored by a campaign that ironically promises "CHANGE". But don't think the Rethugs care either. Neither Joe Sixpack or Joe Plumber have a daughter named Lotionetta or a son named Semaj.

You should take that run in your birthday suit on Election Day. But not as a dare, but as a protest for those kids who will ALWAYS be left behind.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Like I said before regarding the run:


I hope the young lady was "bilingual".

I remember the first time I went to my fab hairdresser in DC. Half the women were hustlers' girlfriends getting their hair done. I had no idea what they were saying.

Anonymous said...

WOW Field - I know the feeling. When my children were young they called me the English teacher because when I heard a mispronounced word - I would ask that person to spell it - like flow instead of floor - or foe instead of four just to name two.

It is sad, but back in 'the day' bad english was corrected. Todays youth, however, is more apt to inquiring "why are you all up in my kool-aid when you don't even know the flavor" - please pardon my proper grammatical usage for in reality you were right when you quoted her as saying "all up in my flavor shit mother fucker can't have a conversation an shit without motherfuckers all up in yours."

"The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations?" Lawd, Lawd, Lawd - Let us pray!

p.s. - Ving Rhames is one of my favorite actors so when you get your streak on (When O wins) can I get a copy of that tape? We will need proof that you fulfilled your pledge - ROFLMBO!

Bob said...

Reminds me of street dealer a couple of houses up, shrimp of a guy, annoying, he either moved or he's in the county lockup. Anyway, one Saturday night I see him walking down the street, going to a party maybe, & a step behind him is his "shorty," a girl with an undernourished body, all dressed up, & she's blabbing like that at him, loud, & he had a look of utter stupification on his face, like it never stopped. I hope it never did.

Anonymous said...

Hey Field,
I still think you are missing the boat. You need a run "permit" for Fields Free Style and Fun Run. You know to raise money for your charity of choice, family planning, after school English tutoring...whatever. Then you need enough other people with clothes on to provide a little camoflage. You know most of us that sit and read blogs could stand to stetch our legs a little. Also, just tell me where to send the check.

Anonymous said...

Jody, I think you are in Philadelphia, could you see a "Fun Run" for Field to raise money for a good cause? Would you participate with clothes? I mean, let us not get all San Francisco there.

Anonymous said...

@zack - school isn't relevant to suburban kids either, but college is. high school is the path to college.

@fn - I also like the idea of testing and grading, and websites that show you what's messed up with school. The problem with NCLB, as my underperforming teacher friend says, is that a lot of these kids come into 8th grade ready to start the 5th grade. NCLB punishes the teachers and schools for this situation. Until the system of punitive testing changes, there won't be support from teachers.

The solution, as I see it, is to make students accountable to themselves for their own performance. Test them at the start of the year as well as the end. The goal should be to gain around one year of education in one school year. If they can't do that, they go to summer school.

If they are behind, they can add on a class here or there, and catch up. Or they can get tutoring. You can't get ahead by wishing things are better. You have to dedicate some time to it.

I was a year behind in high school math, but made it up by cramming two classes one year. It worked out okay, and I eventually got to AP calculus and scored a 5, skipping a semester of math in college. So it can be done.

The cost is having a busy social life, because jawing off on the fone about getting laid, and getting laid, takes time too. But, if I could do it all again, I'd do it the same.

Charter schools might be a solution, but they aren't going to do much if they don't address the dual issues of quality of education, and quantity of education.

Karen said...

As irritated as I am by loud and obnoxious speech patterns (come on over to Ohia here, and listen to my "cousins" at walmart screaming at their kids, Chesapique and Savannah, fer gettin chocklit on thur new Hannah Montana T-shurts....) Ugh, I'd more regret the day we all sound like proper girls and boys.

field negro said...

People, people, people. Let me clear something up; the young lady was NOT bilingual. Trust me on that one. There are quite a few bi-lingual folks here in Philly, and yes, they do switch back and forth when they speak. But that wasn't the case here.

Karen, I feel you about your cousins in "Ohia" as well. Nice to know we are not alone.

nyc/carribean....You Tube is an option. I might need one of you tech experts to help me with that one.

jon, what you said about those young ladies you encountered was admirable. But trust me, that ain't happening here in Philly.

lady-cracker, that's not a bad idea. But ahm, did you guys see the latest AP poll? Dead heat.

So this whole run thing might be a big to do about nothing.

Jody said...

Lady-Cracker said:
"Jody, I think you are in Philadelphia, could you see a "Fun Run" for Field to raise money for a good cause? Would you participate with clothes? I mean, let us not get all San Francisco there."

I am indeed in Philly.... and a bit of a reveal about me.... for the past 8 years I have been an activist/organizer here... I have worked on anti-war demonstrations, end gun violence marches, and ACT-UP demos. At all of these events here in Philly and around the country, I have worked with the National Lawyers Guild to coordinate legal observing and legal support for anyone arrested. That is how I got to know my current boss, a criminal defense attorney who has, pro-bono, defended activists. I work in a building full of progressive criminal defense attorneys, ALL of whom would defend the Field.

This is all to say to you and the Field, that if he wants, I can turn out lots of activists and lawyers to support this political action... cuz that is what it is..... a Free Speech Event. In fact, it wont be the first time nudity will have been used for political expression... think "I would rather wear nothing than wear fur"... or "the only way to get the media to pay attention to nuclear proliferation is to march naked"

So, this is a long way to say, Field, I got your back and I can amass others to do the same here in Philly!

Kristin said...

Jeez I could barely even read through that conversation enough to understand it. Don't get me wrong I use slang but not every word.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

hat-they as-way a ild-way onversation-kay.

In other words, neo Pig Latin, 'hood style. ;)

Anonymous said...

i work in a LARGE city.....there is a middle school in a black community that gets completely repainted from top to bottom every summer. We're only into the school year a few months and it's already slid right down to the point it looks as if it's been there for thirty years.

My point "black culture" will never change. Everyone out there including FN knows this is true.

If...If he were a true FN he wouldn't be wearing a suit and tie working in a office...he'd be out helping out his fellow bro's and sis's...

you can put all the bling on someone you want and pay them millions of dollars a year....THEY'RE STILL GOING TO TALK LOUD DRIVE CARS WORTH MORE THAN THIER HOMES AND WANT THE GOV TO TAKE CARE OF THEM.

David Sullivan said...

My kids are only 3 and 5, but I drill into them the need to speak with proper diction, annunciate and pronounce words correctly. Some parents think its cute when kids mispronounce words, but it makes me cringe.

It also makes me cringe when in public situations such as work, court, stores, banks people don't use the "king's english".

Everyone has their "speak" around their people, but when in the general public...maybe I'm just old, but I'm not hiring anyone who can't or doesn't choose to speak properly.

David Sullivan said...

Oh yea Field...Phils in 5!!!

Bellini said...

just remember improving education is bottom up approach -- parents must become involved and stir attention up to the education officials; there's nothing the next president can do about that... sure the next president can fund NCLB, but that doesn't absolve parents of the responsibility to teach their children

Anonymous said...

"no child left behind" my ass it starts at home not school, not the village and yes not even at church....these places are great support but if you don't raise your child properly IT'S YOU'RE OWN FAULT!!!!!

Seda said...

I hope Barry does do something to change Bush's No Billionaire Left Behind to No Child left behind. I hope he reads Alfie Kohn's, John Taylor Gatto's, and John Holt's books before he does it. What we need less of is standardized testing. And more hope in those areas where an education doesn't seem helpful in dealing with life.

Unknown said...

I'm ready to be part of the Broad Street Posse. (Why not have everybody surrounding the Man of the Hour dressed in Speedos, like the Santa Speedo run in Boston?)

Also if you run down Broad at 4am, nobody who sees you is going to care that there's a nekkid guy with a camera crew and an entourage darting along the median.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how responsible we get as we get older. Back in the day, I would have thought nothing of jogging all the way down the Avenue of the Arts with my johnson flapping in the cool night air.:)

If it were me I would tape it to the side like a gunslinger, just so I don't trip over it. ;-)

Seriously though, i agree with JP:

We talk a good game on education in America but we hate educated people and really hate learning as a larger culture IMO.

When we say "education" we mean "job training". There is no emphasis on knowledge or learning how to think. No emphasis on how to critically analyze what we hear. Hence the uninformed electorate. Hence the ability to distract and play on people's emotions and fears.

Look at the educational credentials of the Republican Presidential ticket. You couldn't get a gig at the local community college with a background like that.

It boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

Your first language teacher is your parents, probably your mom. After the first 5 years of picking up bad english, I find it hard for teacher to reverse that.
You would think that with all the TV our kids watch that many more would have at least picked up proper english.

A2daK said...

It will never happen. Today's Democrats are more loyal to the Teacher's unions than their black constituents' education.

At a time when over 60% of black 4th graders cannot read as well as their peers, the teachers' unions only proposal is giving them more money.

The state of education in our community is a joke. In Georgia, we spend an average of $11,500 per student annually. For metro Atlanta, it is over $13k. All of this money produces the 48th ranked school system in the nation. That amount of money can send these kids to some of the finest private schools in the area.

The biggest losers are obviously our kids. Rich folks can afford to educate their kids wherever they please. However, those without the funds are doomed to send their kids to these horrendous schools that are only there to give their teacher's jobs; not to teach anyone there.


SagaciousHillbilly said...

A point lost in this discussion is the fact that speech patterns/vernacular/accents, whatever are a result of many different factors. The biggest one is usually the ancestral origins of the talker.
Here in the mountains people often accuse hillbillies of talking "lazy." The truth is that in some of the most backwoods places here and over along the Mid Atlantic coast of America you will hear the last few remaining remnants of Elizabethan English. English people in the 1600s settled here and on the barrier islands and then didn't have much contact with the outside world for hundreds of years. As a result, these are the only places where E-English is still heard today.
The same goes for what is referred to as "Black English." It's influences are deep in the heart of Africa and the Caribbean. On the barrier islands in the south around Georgia the people speak something called Gullah English. It is an incredible mixture of African, Spanish and English. You can hear the same patterns down deep in the back country along the Georgia/ Alabama line.
The bottom line is that there is no such thing as improper English. We all talk the way we do for a good reason and we should embrace our vernacular and own it.
That being said, we also need to be able to tone it down when we go into certain situations. If I am negotiating a contract with people from all over the country, I can't walk in sounding like a slack jawed backwoods hillbilly. I gotta step up and mind my p&qs and especially my "R"s and "th"s. That doesn't mean I have to talk like Charles Emerson Winchester, I just need to talk so EVERYONE can understand me without being a distraction.
So it's not just a matter of "learning proper English" or teaching children to NOT talk the way their culture teaches them.

Anonymous said...

Rich folks can afford to educate their kids wherever they please. However, those without the funds are doomed to send their kids to these horrendous schools that are only there to give their teacher's jobs; not to teach anyone there.

that's it blame it on someone else's never the parents fault.......

Foofa said...

Back when I was teaching GED courses I had a student that I couldn't understand for anything. She grew up somewhere in Mississippi and it literally took me months before I didn't have to put every ounce of my brain into understanding her. She was pretty cool though, and a hard worker.

I totally agree that education is crucial and I really hope Obama is as serious about improving it as he has said he would be.

Anonymous said...

tru dat ;-)

Anonymous said...

Mr Field, I wouldn't worry about the indecent exposure. If Obama wins, I think there may just be a whole lot of naked negroes that night. My wife's gets this look on her face when she thinks about it. Should I be worried?

Anonymous said...

why always pick out a stranger to make judgments about? the first thing that is always cut during bad economic times is the education budget. Amerikka is not eally dedicated to educationg the youth. As an industrialized country we are way behind when it comes to the amount of money spent per child.

I'm sick of people blaming single mothers for everything. I'm sorry I thought a lot of our men are in jail, the main reason for single family homes. And I'm sorry but when I was in high school most of my rich white counterparts cheated, the teachers thought they were such angelic people (like the police) they never seemed to notice the obvious cheating going on.

Situation- sitting on the block, my hair cornrowed, a well meaning community volunteer comes up to me telling me I need to finish high school and make something of my future. I react to him like he is a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness. Firstly I tell him I'm not 17, I'm 28. Secondly I tell him I went to college but had to drop out because I couldn't afford it. He was taken aback. It's funny the different responses I get from people depending on if I wear an afro, braids or press my hair. I'm still the same person. I always got straight A's (except for that first time I went to college) and I speak a variety of ways. Sometimes I play dumb so the other person can show me their true condescending nature. Wearing my hair straight and a suit has not help me break the into white collar jobs here in Vegas. Many possible employers assume I have three kids, no husband, no education or I am a afr-action candidate. So what does it matter how I speak? Blacks prejudge me and so do whites. Whites either think I am that exceptional black person who escaped the ghetto or a welfare mom with a GED.blacks depending on my hairstyle or gear think I am a gangsta, dike or uppity. I hate the way all anchors on the news sound alike. I hate how they put subtitles under the brown skinned people with accents, but not the Irish or Russian with an equally thick accent. I like variety and flavor. What if all painters painted the same, all teachers taught the same, all architects built the same? Prejudgment is a problem, there is nothing worse than a stranger giving you a dirty look when your just trying to survive. Nothing worse than people talking about you under their breath, people you don't even know, judging your every action.

Anonymous said...


It's not where you live, it's how proud you are of living there. Chomsky did the research. ;-)

Anonymous said...

That was like reading a Zora Neal Hurston novel.......

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Whelp, I know who could have benefited from NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. Yup, Sarah Palin would have definitely benefited from it, if they would have funded it. Apparently, the definition of elitist to her is, "Someone who thinks their better than others."
Did Webster, American Heritage, and all those other dictionaries get it wrong? Some folks like Sarah must have ordered their degree out of a catalog.

Therefore, I can't help but believe that the Parrot with lipstick believes that Senator Obama needs to stay in his place like a good negro should, and not have the nerve to run for of all things, the sacred office of President of these United States of America. She has convinced me of that today in her interview with Brian Williams when she gave her definition of elitist.

Oh, that's not all. Senator McCain seems to think that all those Georgetown folks and people back east are running this country, and the American people want to take it back from them. Does that mean that he doesn't seem to think that people back east are Americans?

So, now, what both of them are telling me is that your only a true American IF you live in small towns. Folks that live in suburban, urban, big cities and any other place but small towns, you've now been declared aliens...nonAmericans...unpatriotic...refugees? Whew! I'm overwhelmed by their dimwitted beliefs, my citizen status has been reduced and changed by McCain and Palin.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

BTW, sagacioushillbilly:

Granny agrees with you.

Anonymous said...

Bean Twn Chica said...."Blacks prejudge me and so do whites." I don't mind the people judging; that is absolutely instinctive and natural. It is the significant bias and lack of empathy and open mindedness that is the rub.

Best of good wishes for your situation, it has got to be really tough out in the job market now.

Anonymous said...

bean twn chica, so you know, my favorite hairstyle on most -- not all, because different people are different -- black people is cornrows, those braids that are tight to the scalp. For men, a short crop is my favorite, like Obama or Colin Powell. Straightened hair doesn't do it for me.

I'm not real big on dredlocks because they come across as disorderly. When white men have them, they say "wacko" to me, i.e., someone trying to pretend that he's a Rastafarian.

How far do people take it in making a judgment? Well, let's be honest, because I think honesty is where it all ought to start. People DO judge a book by its cover; how thorough the judgment is what counts. We've got to be light on our feet when it comes to judgments like this.

I am white and worked in an upper-middle level corporate job for a long time. Now I am retired. If someone can't look around and figure out the codes, at least the easy ones like dress and hairstyle and manner of speech, then they're never going to rise very high. Unless they're in the computer department, because those people had us by the short hairs.

I cut a little more slack for black people, depending on the situation, because I figured that to some degree they had lived in two worlds. Once I got to know someone (black or white) then I'd really know, but here's reality: No one can know everyone. That's why we've got norms of dress, appearance, and behavior.

It's all connected to our primitive brain. We look at someone else and the very first thing we do is decide "friend or foe." This is in our genetic core as human beings, and we couldn't change it if we tried. Culture tells us what's friend and what's foe. In my lifetime, I saw "black" to from "automatic foe" in the workplace to "neutral," which is what "white" is. That is progress.

So skin color is a neutral now. It means "friend or foe" is determined by other things. Dredlocks in the workplace usually mean "mailroom guy" or "janitor," or at least they did before I retired a few years ago. They can also mean "artist," but you usually don't have artists in corporate settings.

The girls who field negro was talking about, well, I just plain flat out worry about them, because what he described shouts "underclass." No different than white girls showing bare midriffs, tattoos, piercings, and popping gum and talking and moving in a certain way.

Should "corporate" be the standard behavior? I'd answer a qualified "yes," the qualification being that a clerk at the 7-Eleven doesn't have to meet the same standard as someone who worked in my office. But "corporate" is what we expect in our daily interactions. It sets a standard that allows people to communicate with some degree of efficiency across subcultures.

I have traveled to all 50 states and 25 countries. I love regionalisms, dialects, and subcultures. So, there is a paradox at work, because "corporatism" tends to work against diversity. It is all a balance of forces, and I don't think there ever will be, or ever should be, an ultimate right answer for everyone at every time. But I do fear for the girls that field negro wrote about.

bean twn chica, as for your education, I think you should do what you want to do. That's what America is about, the freedom to live as you want to live. So, when I say what I am about to say, please take it in that context. I have my point of view but it's only my point of view. If it comes across as condescending all I can do is reply that I'm being honest. Here goes:

Every Christmas, I give my daughters, nieces, nephews and some other young people in my life each a gift card from Amazon. Last year it was for $500. This year it'll be a little more. I include a note saying that I'd prefer that they spend the money on nothing but books, and that they use the card strictly for themselves. I tell them that nothing they read will ever be wasted, no matter what it is.

So, I am a believer in education for its own sake. You didn't ask me what to do, but I think by mentioning your education there was an implied question. So my implied answer is that every time anyone has ever asked me about education, I have always at every moment urged that person to get more of it. If you can't afford college, then there is always community college. If you can't afford community college, there is at least the public library, because nothing you read is ever wasted.

Anonymous said...

By the way, if I were emporer of the black community I'd put a big guilt tax on the entertainers and use the proceeds to train young black people in the sciences and in engineering. No one, and I mean no one, cares who you are or what you look like in those fields. Worried about racism? One approach is to render it irrelevant, and that what sciences and engineering does.

It's probably also worth mentioning that those jobs pay well, get a lot of respect, and help mankind. If a few million young black scientists got created, everyone would be better off and so would our country and our world.

If I were the black emporer, I'd say to Oprah and Tiger Woods and all the rest something like, "Hey, you. Enjoy yourselves but you'd better not forget where the hell you come from."

vdubjb said...

Aren't you Jamaican? You should be home by the time Constable Brown shows up! Gold Puma's to the world, and you have to dance the "Nuh Linga" at the finish. So funny that you know that ubiquitous philly slang term, "jawn". All of us in NYC find philly blacks so bizarre.

Phil4Real said...

"I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill and I'm sitting here on capitol hill..." Now learning was much more creative and interesting back in the day. It's so fast paced and lame these days. It's like we're trying to keep up with the kids ever changing attetion span.

As far as the conversation...I have no problem with her language. I speak Swatian and English. Swatian is Soutwest Atlanta English or Slang. People say we're slow down south, well I found I had to slow my Swatian so people could understand me. We actually talk very very fast with plenty explitives, similar to the young lady on the train. It's the same here in Atlanta on MARTA.

Lola Gets said...

No she did NOT say that shit about you?? You cant tell me that really happened - bwahahahaha!

I do have one question about your, um, "run" down "Broad" street..., um, when are you going to be doing that? It cant be election night, as all the results arent going to be in for some time. And, given what I read in a recent Washington Post article about the cases already being brought up against certain voters'legality, Im sure there is going to be some dispute as to the true results of this election. So, um, when are you going to be running again? Cause you know Ill drive my little jalopy up to Philly to see it!


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but our "cousins" who cannot or will not use proper English are just pathetic. As much TV as the average black child watches, they should be familiar with standard American English. And heck no, they are not bilingual.

Their speech in unintelligble, and their manners while using their cell phones in public is just shameful. When you deal with the "cousins" at the local fast-food establishment, they laugh at you for speaking standard English if you are black. Between the weed and their ignorance, they could never work a corporate job.

The truly sad part is that American corporations hire Indians, Filipinos, and standard English speaking white folks in Utah to work their call centers. Yeah, I know all about paying overseas labor less, but how does that explain Utah?

Frankly, I don't expect the O-ness to do much about the "cousins." The underclass, poor folks, hustlers, etc., are happy being ignorant. If you don't know you have problem, no one can help you solve it.

Anonymous said...

Hey don't feel sorry for me. I'm just dumbfounded how for the first time in my life I cannot find a job. I do work from January to April 15, but usually I have a job in between. I'm working on getting my CPA so I can have my own business but the road to that point has gotten ridiculously difficult. I'm just trying not to let the stress kill me.I have a Bachelor's degree in accounting and certification in IT but cannot break the ceiling in Las Vegas. I won't move until my son completes this last year of high school and we know for sure what state he'll attend college next year.

Anonymous said...

I wish you and your son the best, bean twn chica. (Anon 2:38/2:39)

Anonymous said...

First off, if you train right the cops won't be able to catch you. Put in a call to brother Bolt, he might be able to help.

Brother Obama has so much to address where in the hell is he gonna start? It's going to take everything he's got to just get some shit in order. I want him to win but, I don't envy him at all.

This country's fucked up!

Thanks Dubya!

Dumb ass sack of crap!

teach people not books said...

field, reform & accountability certainly need to be made priorities. but we can't do it this way:

i'm thinking the title needs to read "no child left behind--especially ones we can't understand." aave certainly provides challenges but it is necessary to help students learn how to codeswitch.

funny you bring up "cousin." my little ones at the charter school where i used to work, city kids, would often complain "i'm not your cousiinnnnn! ms. [me] can you tell [so-and-so] i am not his cousin?!"

field negro said...

granny, did you say "Parrot with lipstick"? That is too funny. Can I steal that line?

"Aren't you Jamaican? You should be home by the time Constable Brown shows up!"

Yeah but these constables run Dodge Chargers. Not even my Pumas or my Jamaican pedigree will help me beat officer Brown home.

Yes Lola, she talked about your boy. Do you believe that? And you are right; that run could be the 5th the 6th the 7th, who knows? LOL!

phil4real, honestly, if she wasn't yelling for all the world to hear, I probably wouldn't have a problem with it either. Although the state of black speak among our children is kind of sad these days. I mean if she can flip the script and speak the King's English at will, then fine. She will need to do that in order to get a job someday. That'just the reality in modern day A-merry-ca. Sadly, nine times out of ten these children (at least here in Philly) can't. I do volunteer work with "Philly Reads" and I am involved with some groups who train youngsters for the real world, and you should see what we are dealing with out here.

"Mr Field, I wouldn't worry about the indecent exposure. If Obama wins, I think there may just be a whole lot of naked negroes that night. My wife's gets this look on her face when she thinks about it. Should I be worried?"

svejk, it depends on where you live.;)

Swiff said...

Remember when Susan Smith killed her kids in her car and said a black man stole the car with the kids in them?

Well it looks like the feared PHANTOM NEGRO has struck again!

"A knife-wielding man robbed a McCain-Palin campaign volunteer and etched a “B” into her face after he saw a McCain bumper sticker on the woman’s car, Pittsburgh police said."


"The robber is described as a dark-skinned black man...."

Clearly! The savagery of these gangster-rap listening negroids knows no bounds!


"Pittsburgh law enforcement sources tell TMZ they have serious questions about the authenticity of the alleged victim who says she had her face cut by a politically-motivated attacker."

Uh oh....

Michelle f'n Malkin -

"I’ve reported on the great lengths that warped attention-seekers have gone to in perpetrating fake hate crimes, including beating themselves up, carving swastikas on their dorm room doors and walls, locking themselves in bathroom stalls, and burning down their own houses.

She refused medical treatment after reporting the incident to police. Why on earth would she do that?"

ahhh shit, da jig iz up.

Anonymous said...


The original purpose for public education was to prepare a semi-literate immigrant/native population for the rote/mechanized labor demands of the early years of the Industrial period in America - workers who were not expected to think. Post-modern/industrial America no longer exists - I know you hear the whooshing sound of those jobs leaving our shores (what, 700,00 this past year?).
It saddens me deeply that so few amerikkkans (demonstrably) appreciate learning; it stands to reason why there is even less appreciation for the sham/circus called, "public education".
No amount of funding can fix our problem WITHOUT a collective paradigm shift and design in public education. In the meantime, merit pay for qualifying teachers; publicly funded charter-like schools (who might have, BTW, the authority to unceremoniously expel students who choose not to learn); a consortium/cabinet of highly qualified educators might redesign standards of learning outcomes that represent the health, technology, and environmental demands of the 21st century global community. Climate change is real (and irreversible?); our population grows exponentially; we still need to figure out a way to live together in harmony. With that said...corporate standards for speech/dress/appearance are limiting. On the other hand, the loud, celebrated and shameless ignorance in speech, behaviors, and manners of our 'cousins' - no, your underclass 'cousins' - insults the legacies of our ancestors.... Is this - our current state of affairs - what they suffered and struggled for?
Gawd, how I wish stupidity were painful and ignorance fatal.


rorysmomma said...

I am a teacher. Quite frankly, the education issue is a personal responsibility issue. There are many programs for young children, and people don't take advantage of them. My daycare provider takes kids who get daycare vouchers.... Mothers won't even bring their child to a free daycare everyday. Here is the kicker, these chicks don't even work. Meanwhile, my husband and I are paying for daycare. The daycare provider reports them and gets them kicked out of the program because of their laziness. She says, "I don't want people to send their black children to me, but not let me teach them." I agree. It starts at home. Don't give me the whole I am a single parent routine. I was young when I had my baby. I see young mothers everyday who are my age, but have teenagers. They are making sure that their children are performing in school..... or else.
It goes to social responsibility first. How can I tell you what you aren't doing when I won't even do my own damn job.

Anonymous said...

No president can take the place of a family. You can send a child to the best school, but if the parents don't demand/encourage's not going to work for most kids. I wasn't that type of kid. My mom has a college degree, but couldn't do my work when I was in high school. She stopped checking my work when I got in the 5th or 6th grade. But she made sure it was done...and a lot of time that's really all that's needed.

Also, My daughter is 4 and I correct every raggedy sentence that comes out of her mouth. As a kid, I learned how to talk to anybody on their level. I can talk to my homegirl, the homeless man on the street, the CFO at my company, and anybody else and make them feel comfortable. You can't teach a 4 year old that, but she will learn later.

Seda said...

This is off-topic, but did y'all see this website? Very cool. Make sure your vote counts.

Pass it on, and GO OBAMA!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Obviously most of the folks on this blog are literate and at least have internet access ……most of the people of color in this country would rather spend OUR hard earned dollars on 22’s or speakers so big they fill up the trunk of their Chrysler 300 rather than make sure they take care of their children…….Oh, I know that’s society’s job.
Hell, the Hispanic families that are in this country illegally take better care of their children. Hence is why the black community hates the Hispanic community!

Anonymous said...

Flash, you can evade the issue to your heart's content, but until you can compose a coherent sentence in reasonably standard English, do not expect me to give serious consideration to your excursions.n Thank you.

- The Anonymous Corporate Guy

Anonymous said...

p.s.: My apologize for the typo above. Given the context, it's a little embarrassing.

- The Anonymous Corporate Guy

Anonymous said...

p.p.s.: This is ridiculous. My apologies.

- The Anonymous Corporate Guy

Anonymous said...

I apologies for the anonymous corporate guy too

Still didn't answer anon 9:55's question

Anonymous said...

Field, perhaps you could do your jog down in a Borat-type mankini. That would keep the boys from bouncing in the breeze (and your license intact) but would still provide us with enormous snorts of laughter...especially when you post pics as proof of your run. (snicker snort snicker)

Anonymous said...

i wonder if the Broad Street Bully (Beanie Siegle) has any idea that there'll be a streaker in his territory come november 4th...? Lets hope Beans and the crew doan get carried away with the guns salutes...or arrive at the impression that field is some jacked up repugnegro fleeing the scene..
"Rapper beanie Siegle arrested for assualting porminent Philadelphia attorney in strange O-Day ritual"

Anonymous said...

anonymous- your generalizations are beyond ridiculous. Blacks hate Hispanics.. rather buy 22's than... what world are you living in? You're not getting a nose bleed from that isolated fort you live in? I sick of negative generalizations spreading the blame, everyone needs to stopping misjudging strangers and start contacting and advocating for more school funding. I don't know any of these lazy , worthless, parents you all generalize about it must be your lazy worthless friends or family you speak of. Most single mothers I know or parents I know want the best for their kids and strive for the best. And sorry English is NOT our original language so we, like others didn't correctly pronounce every word in MASSA's language. I wish I was speaking my original language and not the motherfucker that raped my ancestors!

gordon gartrelle said...

You're missing the point, field.

Forget about the fact that she sounded like she had marbles in her mouth. You can tell a lot about a person and her probable life trajectory based strictly on her public behavior.

Loud, cursing, and vulgar. No self-respect, no respect for others. Education policy can't correct a lack of home training.

Chris said...

Great post...I never understood why people my age, and younger, had to butcher the English language. It seems almost on purpose when one doe it to THAT extent. Sure, I understand talking in slang, its fun! But it's also somewhat annoying to anyone else with whom you're conversing.

msladyDeborah said...

Your "cousins" live in the O-State too.

I am not sure that NCLB is going to be the answer for this particular problem. It seems that if you speak standard American then suddenly you are no longer considered to be black.

At least that is what I was told recently by two of my twenty-something Assistant Teachers. Which prompted me to cuss them both out in a proper ghetto manner. Which stunned them both.

It is a problem to in my mind when you cannot speak, read or write in your native language. I was raised in a household where it was mandatory to use the language of America.

I am hoping that at some point in time this trend will cease to exist. It is really a hinderance to progress.