The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 18, 1998

Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan
Pages 139-160

Ebonics as an Ethically Sound Discourse
A Solution, Not a Problem

During 1996-1997, between the OJ Simpson criminal and civil trials, the media needed a sensational topic. They discovered "Ebonics." The Oakland, California School Board's resolution declaring "Ebonics" a language triggered controversy and condemnation. This essay explores ethical implications for the pedagogical use of Ebonics from a Womanist perspective, as a vehicle of empowerment. After defining Womanist thought, I explore: (1) the history of Ebonics and the Oakland School Board's concerns; (2) the impact of Ebonics on student and teacher authority; (3) the hermeneutics and ethical issues surrounding Ebonics; and (4) how using Ebonics empowers or marginalizes teacher and student.