English, along with its dialects, is a language developed and nurtured over many centuries. It is a standard used for clarity in everything from law to poetry. It is certainly not the only language, but for anyone to call Standard English racist descends from some social and moral decrepitude that smacks of laziness, envy, and some level of self-imposed ignorance. Standard English is the conventional templet that provides the benchmark or measure for clear communication. It is for those who wish to share basic verbal communion in The United States, Great Britain and other places where the language and grammar are used as a yardstick of verbal exchange through speaking, reading, and writing it in a shared effort to make thoughts understood by all who have taken the time and effort to study and learn it. It doesn’t mean one has to read and learn Chaucer or Shakespeare, but it does mean putting forth the effort to use standard basic rules of grammar and communication that will work everywhere from Seattle to Little Rock. All races have their own idioms as well, but they are not standard in business and law. That’s just the way it is.
Frankly, someone who plays the race card for language itself is indulging in the worst case of sour grapes I can imagine. The study of Standard English is open to all who wish to learn and use it. It would seem that anyone who wishes to rise socially or at least to participate in a society shared by others would take advantage of the most important key to convivial communication with the same basic rules and expectations anywhere it is taught and studied. Does anyone call Ebonics or other forms of dialect “racist?” Someone traveling to a foreign country doesn’t call the language there (i.e. French, Spanish, German) racist just because he or she is having trouble learning it. The choice to learn a language well is open to anyone who wishes to put forth the effort required. That knowledge is an arsenal against the poverty, ignorance, and bitterness that come from the shadow of not understanding a standard language in one’s own country, wherever that may be.
Language is fundamental to prospering in any nation. English is not an easy language to learn, but as soon as someone begins fishing for excuses not to endure the labor of knowing and using English (or any other language), he is doomed to a life of blaming others for his own indolence and sloth. Excuses and accusations will not change the landscape of that person’s life, nor that of the nation itself. One part of the American system, for better or worse, is that anyone may choose to wallow in his own ignorance and make it appear as though it’s always someone else’s fault, but if one looks at history, he can see so many examples of those from all races who rose from poverty and prejudice (which exists on both sides of that coin) by resolve and hard work without spending all their time and energy blaming others for their own lack of ambition and toil, as well as their choice not to embrace our best mode of universal communication, which is language itself. Standard language usage is intended to bring people together in something shared, not to separate people as if language were some impossible code to break in an elitist club.
History is filled with ugly and irreparable error and greed of one race against others, but the tools for reparation are here now for everyone to use. It is a choice to learn or not to learn the standard language of one’s own country, but choosing not to learn it and blaming history as an excuse is simply not reasonable. Using standard communication through speaking and writing is essential. Language is power, and only the individual can choose to take advantage of that power…but no one ever said it would be easy. My question to those who are against keeping a set of language standards is what do you see as a solution? Shall we scrap standard language and start over or simply have hundreds of mini-forms of English to confuse even further the issue of communication? JB