Yesterday a few Ebonicisms caught my eye, when a Mike Vick quote was de-ghettofied and President Obama was quoted as "telling black people to stop complainin'." That missing G means a lot. So much, in fact, that the writer Karen Hunter told MSNBC that AP is racist for accurately transcribing the president:
I don't get the 15-yard flags like everybody else do." (It was changed to, "like everybody else DOES.") I think that if you don't want to quote someone's bad English, just paraphrase them. But to change what's in between the quote marks is to change reality.
Here's the segment with Hunter n'em. Long Live Ebonics.
This post is for everyone who, like me, jumped on the headline this weekend in which President Obama told black people to "quit complainin.'" I urge you to read the full transcript of his speech here. The speech lasted 28 minutes and is about 3,500 words on the printed page. "Quit complainin'" was in the second-to-last sentence. Should that have been the headline? If Obama is speaking to the Black Caucus, is he really speaking to "blacks" in general, or to "black Democratic politicians"? If Mike Vick goes on TV tomorrow and says, "I need to quit complainin'," will his quote be printed with a G on the end? You be the judge.
Jesse Washington is a Senior Writer for ESPN's TheUndefeated.com