View on Amazon

[Cross-posted from New Book in Language] In linguistics, we all happily and glibly affirm that there is no “better” or “worse” among languages (or dialects, or varieties), although we freely admit that people have irrational prejudices about them. But what do we do about those prejudices? And what do we think the speakers of low-status varieties of language should do to overcome them?

Take the case of African American English. An influential approach, code-switching, advises teachers to help their AAE-speaking students to identify the systematic differences between their variety and the prestige variety (“Standard English”), and eventually to be able to switch effectively between both varieties according to the circumstances.

However, although code-switching seems to promote communicative effectiveness, Vershawn Young and colleagues argue that that approach is inherently problematic. By effectively labelling AAE as inappropriate for public contexts, code-switching runs the risk of promoting and reinforcing society’s prejudices against the language (and indeed its speakers).

[click to continue…]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Marc MyersWhy Jazz Happened

April 6, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Pop Music] How did jazz take shape? Why does jazz have so many styles? Why do jazz songs get longer as the twentieth century proceeds? Marc Myers, in his fascinating book Why Jazz Happened (University of California Press, 2014) examines the social and economic forces affected the growth of jazz between 1942 and 1972. Myers [...]

Read the full article →

Arica L. ColemanThat the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

March 18, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Law] Arica Coleman did not start out to write a legal history of “the one-drop rule,” but as she began exploring the relationship between African American and Native peoples of Virginia, she unraveled the story of how the law created a racial divide that the Civil Rights movement has never eroded. Virginia’s [...]

Read the full article →

N. Jeremi DuruAdvancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL

March 17, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Sports] Each year, following the end of the NFL season, there is a blizzard of activity as teams with disappointing records fire their head coaches and look for the new leader who will turn things around.  This year, seven teams fired their coaches and spent the next weeks searching for [...]

Read the full article →

Marcia Alesan DawkinsEminem: The Real Slim Shady

February 28, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Pop Music] Who is Eminem? Is he a violent misogynist, another “white” performer imitating African American musical styles, or is he something else entirely? In her provocative book Eminem: The Real Slim Shady (Praeger, 2013), Marcia Alesan Dawkins offers a fresh look at Eminem and sees him as a cultural critic, spiritual seeker, and a [...]

Read the full article →

Kevin QuashieThe Sovereignty of Quiet: Beyond Resistance in Black Culture

February 17, 2014

Musician James Brown is famous for his civil rights slogan, “Say it loud; I’m Black and I’m proud,” illustrating the argument that Kevin Quashie makes in his new book The Sovereignty of Quiet: Beyond Resistance in Black Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2012)—that public expressiveness has become the dominant trope for thinking through and even theorizing [...]

Read the full article →

Aram GoudsouzianDown to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear

February 12, 2014

[Cross-post from New Books in History] When I was a kid in the 1970s, I really didn’t know anything about the “Civil Rights Movement.” I knew who Martin Luther King was, and that he had been assassinated by white racists (I knew quite a few of those). But to me all that was old history. The [...]

Read the full article →

Adam HenigAlex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey

February 5, 2014

Alex Haley’s 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family still stands as a memorable epic journey into the history of African Americans during the enslavement period and after. The 1977 televised miniseries was a must-watch event of the day, and it remains an important production in television history. However, a little more than [...]

Read the full article →

Cindy HooperConflict: African American Women and the New Dilemma of Race and Gender Politics

January 29, 2014

Cindy Hooper is a veteran of various local, state, and national political campaigns. She is the founder of a national organization for African American women that is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Hooper is also a member of the American Political Science Association. Her new book, Conflict: African American Women and the New Dilemma of Race and [...]

Read the full article →

Amy L. WoodLynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940

January 25, 2014

Host Jonathan Judaken talks with author and professor Amy Wood about her book, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 (University of North Carolina Press, 2011). Wood discusses her book, the use of photography and media in the spectacle of lynching, religious justification for the practice, and the importance of honoring the legacies [...]

Read the full article →