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 think it’s inherently racist to do something like that ... for them to do that in a publication, you know what that is, and I don’t think it’s acceptable on any level. I teach a journalism class, and I tell my students to fix people’s grammar, because you don’t want them to sound ignorant. For them to do that, it’s code, and I don’t like it."
It's not code, Ms. Hunter. It's journalism. AP's mission is to present as accurate a picture as possible of what was said and done--not to protect people from sounding ignorant. I argued yesterday that Vick should have been quoted word-for-word when he said, "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.
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Dwight L. Wilson
9/28/2011 02:12:21 am
When the United States negotiated/demanded treaties with Native American nations it was necessary to have interpreters not (word for word) translators. Anyone who understands languages knows that word for word translations will make even certified geniuses appear stupid. Thus interpreting the intent of a Vick or an Obama can indeed be legitimate, helping those who are not inclined to give the benefit of the doubt and capturing the intent of the speaker.
6/18/2014 01:01:33 pm
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10/25/2014 10:20:23 pm
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10/25/2014 10:22:03 pm
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Jesse Washington is a Senior Writer for ESPN's TheUndefeated.com