A Research Prospectus

A Research Prospectus on Black vernacular/Hip Hop Rhetoric: Exposing Attitudes and Assumptions

Robert Tinajero

I. Research Question(s):

Is Black Vernacular/Hip Hop Rhetoric seen as a second-rate and inferior dialect in America (specifically El Paso, TX)? If so, what sorts of attitudes and assumptions are made about those who speak this dialect and what can be theorized about these attitude’s and assumption’s effects on those individuals?

What lead me to this research question?

Music:  My interest in these research questions did not begin with “scholarly” work in the field; not with an essay in cultural studies, linguistics, composition or any other discipline.  If I am to be honest I must admit that these research questions came out of my love and interaction with rap music.  Every since middle school I have enjoyed the powerful beats and intricate wordplay of rap music.  From Cypress Hill to Tupac Shakur and B.I.G. to Eminem I have spent many hours, in many moods, listening to this genre of music.  And while the music itself was the starting point of my current inquiry it is negative comments made by others about rap music with which the seedlings of these research questions were first planted:  Why are you listening to that crap?  Why you listening to that Black music?  You can’t understand anything they’re saying!  Change that nigger music (and other comments referring to the fact that, as a Mexican American, I wasn’t listening to “my people’s” music).  I understood that these comments could be made by someone who simply disliked that particular kind of music but I believed/believe that they could/can be indicative of deeper attitudes and assumptions about those rappers, and in extension, to those that spoke using Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.

Public Commentary:  The next catalyst in my development of these research questions would be public commentary regarding Ebonics over the past ten years or so.  I must admit that I am using “Ebonics” and “Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric” interchangeably here, and while this may be problematic to some, I believe for the purpose of this study they can be used synonymously.  To illustrate the public commentary of which I speak without being exhaustive I will point to three sources of this commentary.  The first involves a 1997 decision by an Oakland, California School District to recognize Ebonics as a legitimate language which should be considered and incorporated when implementing curriculum to teach African American students “Standard” English.  These were two comments made about the issue:

Self-appointed spokespeople for “standard English” have loudly advanced their claim that there is nothing legitimate about the language used by Blacks. The New York Times editorially dismissed “inner-city speech” as “colorful in its place.” The editors warn that by “validating habits of speech” they term “urban slang,” the new policy “will actually stigmatize African-American children.” (Militant)

“It’s black people shooting themselves in the foot.” (McWhorter qtd. in Diringer)

This commentary, among others, added to my belief that Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric was being attacked by those that found it not only “incorrect” but inferior.

The second example of negative public commentary made about this dialect comes from Bill Cosby, a prominent African American figure in the United States.  In a number of public speeches America’s “dad,” of The Cosby Show fame, has attacked what he sees as underachieving African Americans and Ebonics:

“They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English,” he said. “I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t.’ ‘Where you is.’ … And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. … You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!” (WorldNetDaily)

And to concur with Mr. Cosby, a professor at Stanford University states:

Mr. Cosby is absolutely correct that monolingualism of this type is a guarantee of economic and other forms of poverty — including intellectual and spiritual poverty.” (Rampersad in PR Newswire)

These comments, specifically those made by Cosby, show that this issue is not simply one of race (White vs. Black, All Others vs. Black) and that even those coming from the racial community that gave birth to Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric can perpetuate that notion of its second-rate status, de-valuation and de-intellectualization.

The third and final example of public commentary on the issue of Ebonics and (once again linking the issue to music) rap which sparked my interest were comments made by Bill O’Reilly, a prominent news commentator on the Fox News Channel.  Though I believe that O’Reilly, along with Cosby, have the interest (especially economic) of children in mind their commentary adds to the devaluing of a legitimate dialect/rhetoric and in the labeling of this dialect/rhetoric as second-class and un-intellectual.  And while O’Reilly may have legitimate concern about the content of some rap music he has also made comments about Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric in general:

“Every school official who wants to use Ebonics in any way should be fired immediately.”

“…allowing idiotic educators to promote Ebonics to kids who can hardly read is not only insane, it is condemning those children to lives of poverty and disappointment.”

“And Ebonics is not going to help you. Again, only a classic education and learning how to think clearly will give you the opportunity to rise.”

Apparently those who speak a dialect other than Standard/“classical” English cannot be clear thinkers and apparently Ebonics is not valued enough to use it as a teaching tool.

As you can see, it was a short leap from first-hand comments I had heard regarding rap music and Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric to public commentary on Ebonics, but none of this led me to write or conduct research on the topic.  It is with my entrance into the field of Composition and Rhetoric where my research questions are now given voice and life.

Composition and Rhetoric:   Being a first-year student in a doctoral program in Composition and Rhetoric has allowed me to complicate my notions of language and create research questions that address what were, in the past, simply ideas and interests.  That is where I stand now.  I stand with other’s scholarly work as my bow as I attempt to shoot my epistemological arrow at those who have attacked, do attack and will attack Black Vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric on the grounds of it being an illegitimate, second-rate and bastardized dialect.  And for those who still call for me to “listen to mypeople’s music,” that is, focus on language issues in the Mexican American community, it doesn’t take much creativity to connect this issue to past and present attacks on Spanish speakers in our country as well.

Those in Composition and Rhetoric who have influenced my research questions the most include Keith Walters and his essay “Whose Culture? Whose Literacy.”  In it he asks us to consider the notion that language and literacy education are not innocent but politicized phenomenon.  He attacks E.D. Hirsch’s notion of the “disadvantaged children” being “those who have not mastered what Hirsch terms the standard grapholect or body of knowledge he and like-minded colleagues have collected” (4).  In his article he also quotes from The Right to Literacy (Lunsford, Moglen, & Slevin): “It is necessary to ask what kind of literacy we want to support: literacy to serve which purposes and on behalf of whose interests.  …[T]he teaching of reading and writing can never be innocent” (5).   This was one of the first articles that opened my eyes to the fact that literacy and language are not objective and detached realities but issues that are caught up with politics and power.  It helped me bring my thoughts about negative attitudes towards Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric into the realm of Composition and Rhetoric and presented me tools to develop a scholarly defense of this dialect.

A second, and larger influence, is Kermit Campbell and his book “gettin’ our groove on: rhetoric, language, and literacy for the hip hop generation.” In it Campbell gives Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric its proper due in a complex and historical manner, legitimizing the dialect/language in a way that kept me engaged as a Compositionist and fan of rap music.  In it he states:

Or, worst still is my sense that this impulse [towards assimilation] is based on  an educated, literate bias that essentially casts lower-class black speech and speech behavior as negligible at best and at worst, well, downright niggerish.  After all, why can’t African American (Ebonics-speaking) children be encouraged to use and value both; why can’t they be, in other words, bedialectical?  …[D]enigrating Ebonics or eradicating black vernacular speech is not the way to give Ebonics-speaking youths the English-language education they need to succeed in school or in life, at least not if it’s important to us (and I really hope it is) to maintain a healthy respect for our integrity as a diverse and democratic nation. (13)

The book is a powerful example of what can be seen, theorized and practiced in the context of the Black vernacular/Hip Hop issue and helped tremendously in me formulating my research questions.

A final influence upon my window of research is a general movement within the discipline of Composition and Rhetoric.  I refer to Social Epistemic Rhetoric, spurred in the 1990s, which not only focuses on the socially constructed nature of language but presents the case that there is a deeply political nature to language construction, dissemination and acquisition.  Issues of power and control are woven into the fabric of literacy and, as said before, it is never innocent, unbiased or uninterested.  As I think more and more about my research questions specifically and about general attacks on Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric I keep coming back to these notions espoused by the Social Epistemic Rhetoric movement.  Did those people in my youth (and presently) say those things about rap music and Ebonics simply because they didn’t like the music or the language?  Do those that attack the use of Ebonics in American classrooms and beyond simply want what’s “best” for the children?  I think not.  There are deeper, more complex issues and play and one of the first things we must acknowledge is that “Standard” English is created, living entity itself.  There is no good/pure/standard language.  There is certainly a dialect (“Standard” English) that is in power in businesses, courtrooms, universities, etc., across the United States and it is that same dialect that is espoused and disseminated by much of our educational system, but that dialect is no more legitimate, intricate, intellectual or worthy of respect than Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric and the people who speak it should not be stripped of those same qualities.

Before moving on I must state that this particular research prospectus will only have a minimal focus on actually defending the validity of Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.  To follow what has been termed Stasis Theory, I feel I must begin by showing the existence of a problem (Recognition).  In future writing my intent is to further develop ideas on why devaluing a particular dialect is unethical and unhealthy for our society (this being the Quality component) and finally to theorize and implement ways in which things can be changed for the better (the Procedural component).  Thus, this research prospectus is intended as a roadmap for research into attitudes and assumptions about Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric which I strongly believe will echo those put forth by the aforementioned detractors of Ebonics.

II. Survey of Research:

The literature available on issues dealing with my research questions is quite extensive, coming from the fields of education, linguistics, composition and rhetoric, history, music studies, African American studies and cultural studies.  When I first began thinking about and researching the topic at hand I wasn’t aware of its cross-disciplinary nature and wide-ranging implications.  I was pleased to find much written, from editorial commentaries to scholarly works, but I have yet to find a study that focuses specifically on pinpointing attitudes and assumptions about Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric in a specific city/area/community.  So, while the following sources are integral to the development of my study and argument, it seems that what I am doing with my research is unique, especially in the field of rhetoric and composition.

I will start with a short discussion of two sources I have already mentioned, move on to two new sources, then end with a short list of other source material.

1. Keith Walter’s “Whose Culture? Whose Literacy?”

In this 1992 essay, Walters attacks those that would want to “bleach” the American linguistic landscape and argues for the appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity.  He sees people such as E.D. Hirsch as perpetuating a narrow-minded hegemony where there is a separation between good/proper knowledge and language use and “bad”/“improper” knowledge and language use.  Hirsch is upset because students are not able to speak to him in the manner which he speaks or about the things he deems important.  As I stated earlier, this was one of the first essays I read that places language use and literacy in the political sphere, realizing that how we teach language, literature and literacy is wound up with notions of power, politics and self-interest.  And though the article never speaks of Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric specifically, its argument was a launching point for my research questions.

2. Kermit Campbell’s “gettin’ our groove on”

I will no doubt come back to this book over and over as I continue my research in this area.  Campbell puts forth a complex, historical, intelligent and creative defense of the Black vernacular voice and of Hip Hop rhetoric.  He presents five chapters which move from (1) Defending the Black vernacular voice to (2) Professing the Power of the Rap to (3) complicating the Gangsta Ethos to (4) discussing Ghetto Realistic Fiction, and finally to (5) putting forth pedagogy and discussing Literacy in the Zone.  In these chapters Campbell discusses the linguistic history of the Black vernacular voice, articles in national magazines attacking Ebonics, rap song lyrics, comments made by public figures and linguistic professors, and the importance of defending and legitimizing this voice.

What is most intriguing to me is the intelligence behind the argument and the delivery of the argument.  Campbell doesn’t simply defend rap lyrics.  Using his rhetoric and composition background he places the argument within the context of philosophy, linguistics and cultural studies.  Among others, he discusses the griots of Africa, the “Dozens,” Nietzsche, Bakhtin, Foucault, postmodernism and innovative pedagogy.  And while he points to sources which will give credibility to his argument by those in his discipline me stays true to his argument in his delivery.  The text itself mixes “standard” and scholarly diction with Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.  So while he may write “It would appear that the griot’s eloquence is none other than the black vernacular toast, the rhyming folk poem that presumably originated in the 1940s or ‘50s as a later development of the African American folk song or ballad” (34) he will also write “Sis, who was in the midst of jawin’ with me about somethin’ at the time, probably thought her baby bruh must have been hittin’ them damn books too long cuz I was making all this fuss over a rap song” (15).  If one is to argue for the legitimization of a dialect among scholarly circles, what better way to do assist in doing that than in using the language itself alongside what is considered “standard” and “scholarly” language.

3. Lisa Delpit’s “The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other

People’s Children”

This 1988 article by Delpit points to the fact that many minority teachers have become part of a silenced dialogue, that is, there experiences and recommendations as minority teachers teaching minority students have been overlooked and marginalized.  The article, like Walter’s, points to issues of power and politics in the educational system.  Delpit argues against the status quo and complicates the idea of “wanting the same thing for everyone else’s child as I want for mine.”  All children are not the same and even though they should be, all types of dialects/language use or not given the same respectability, value and cultural capital.  Once again, there is a “proper” way to speak and be and an “improper” way.

This article helped me further complicate the Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric issue and helped me understand that people like Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly are probably very interested in the development (especially economically) of those that mainly speak this dialect.  But, it also led me to believe that Cosby, O’Reilly and countless others are missing the bigger picture when they devalue and stigmatize this type of rhetoric.

4.  John Trimbur’s “Literacy and the Discourse of Crisis”

This article focuses on the development of “literacy crises” in America over the years.  Trimbur argues that the public’s concern about the literacy levels of students is not simply linked to a revival in needs to raise functional writing skills but may be linked to anxiety among the middle class.  This anxiety, he argues, comes about from the middle class’ self interest in separating itself from the lower class for economic and cultural reasons.  The middle class, in effect, is afraid that their children will slip back into the realm of the lower class and thus they push for the defense of teaching only “standard” English and for the continued supremacy of their knowledge and linguistic patterns.

This, like the aforementioned sources, was a powerful catalyst in my development of my research questions on Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric and helped me theorize about the deep-rooted self interest (whether they realize it or not) that may be present in those that attack it.

Source Material:

Arnove, Robert F. and Harvey Graff. “National Literacy Campaigns.” Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook.

Brandt, Deborah. “Sponsors of Literacy.” Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook.

Campbell, Kermit. “gettin’ our groove on.” Detroit: Wayne University Press, 2005.

Delpit, Lisa. “The Silence Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other

People’s Children”

Farr, Marcia. “En Los Dos Idiomas: Literacy…” Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook.

Gee, James Paul. “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics…” Litearcy: A Critical Sourcebook.

Haas, Christina. “Learning to Read Biology.” Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook.

Mahiri, Jabari. “Writing, Rap, and Representation: Problematic Links between

Texts and Experience.”

Mangelsdorf, Kate. “Students on the Border.”

Olson, David R. “Writing and the Mind.” Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook.

Ramdas, Lalita. “Women and Literacy: A Quest for Justice.” Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook.

Rodby, Judith. “Contingent Literacy: The Social Construction of Writing for Nonnative English-Speaking College Freshman.”

Scribner, Sylvia. “Literacy in Three Metaphors.” The American Journal of Education. 93.1 (1984). 72-81.

Thomas, Linda, et al. Langage, Society and Power (2nd ed.)

Trimbur, John. “Literacy and the Discourse of Crisis.” The Politics of Writing Instruction: Postsecondary.

Walters, Keith. “Whose Culture? Whose Literacy?”

IV. Research Methodology:

The research I propose in this study is aimed at discovering and presenting attitudes and assumptions towards Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.  In order to triangulate my research I plan on doing four types of research which I hope will bring to light certain perceptions.  You will notice that the first phase of research has a national focus while the latter three focus in on a specific city (El Paso, Texas).  While the attitudes that I get at the local level cannot be said to be indicative of the attitudes of all people in all regions of the United States I believe it is possible to view results of the study in parametric nature.  That is, if there are certain attitudes and assumptions that prevail in this rather large American city, chances are that many across the nation have similar, if not the same, attitudes and assumptions.

Following are my four proposed research methods.

1. Qualitative Textual Research

This research will consist of text-based research that will bring to light negative attitudes which have been espoused by numerous people in American culture toward Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.  By text-based I mean books, journal articles and essays, magazine articles, newspaper editorials, television and radio transcripts and blogs, all of which may be print-based or internet-based.  I perceive the negative commentary coming from educators, school administrators, scholars, businessmen, politicians, celebrities and news personalities.  This perception comes from the small amount of textual research which I have begun and some of which I have already mentioned (i.e. Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, et. Al.).  As stated before, this portion of my research places the Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric issue on the national stage and should make apparent the validity of my research questions and show that, nationally, this rhetoric/dialect is attacked and devalued by many.

2. Case Study/Ethnography

In this phase of research I plan on doing what could be termed either a case study or mini-ethnography.  Because an ethnography attempts to “gain a comprehensive view of social interactions, behaviors, and beliefs of a community or social group” (Moss qtd. in Kirsch 155) I believe the term is appropriate here.  But since I won’t be spending months, day in day out, with the proposed community, the research method moves closer to the realm of case study.  I don’t believe the terminology used to describe this particular phase of study is of utmost importance but rather the fact that I will be immersing myself into a community to produce a strong description of attitudes and assumptions towards Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.

My plan is to make numerous visits to a local (El Paso) high school interacting with students, teachers and administrators to get their attitudes and assumptions about Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric and those that use/don’t use that dialect.  In choosing a high school I will first look into schools that are the most racially diverse, but depending on the level of access granted to me by the administration I cannot pick a particular school until I actually speak with administrators at a number of schools.

Once access has been granted I hope to visit the school twice a week throughout an entire semester( 4-5 months).  In my visits I will meet with students, teachers, administrators, staff, observe classes, attend meetings and talk with parents.  My research position will certainly not be that of the distanced observer as I will attempt to bring up the issue of Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric in a number of ways: direct questions, discussion of the Ebonics debate, proposed pedagogy using rap music, etc.  I believe that once the semester closes I will have a strong perception of that school culture’s attitude toward Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.

3. Interviews and Surveys

In this phase of research I plan on interviewing prominent leaders in the El Paso community to gain their perspectives on Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric and culture.  I imagine speaking with company CEOs, presidents, managers and owners of small and large businesses, politicians, religious leaders, top administrators in the El Paso Independent and Ysleta Independent school districts and local television and news personalities.  My interest is to ask rather open-ended questions to see the attitudes and assumptions these individuals have.  I think this phase of research may prove to be the most important and telling for the fact that it will begin to illustrate the attitudes of a large community (unlike the high school case study/ethnography component) but will not be so expansive (as the textual research) as to be seen as too general.

Along with the interviews I will also send questionnaires to community leaders who I may not have the time to interview.  This will allow me to have a larger number of respondents considering logistical and time constraints.  Once again, I believe the interviews and surveys of community leaders is crucial because attitudes toward a particular rhetoric leads to assumptions about those who speak it and leads to real life and real world consequences.

4. “Journalistic” Research

In this final phase of research I plan on focusing on hiring committees of various businesses and organizations.  This is the “pushing the envelope” research that I have not decided whether or not I will/can/should do.  The plan is to get fake job applicants to do their interviews using some/all Black vernacular/Hip Hop slang then have hidden microphones set up to catch reactions of the hiring committee once the applicant has left the room.  I am not naïve enough to not understand that certain types of diction and rhetoric are preferred in most work environments but I believe the hidden microphones may pick up on deeper attitudes and assumptions about those who speak the Black vernacular/Hip Hop dialect.

The reason I am strongly considering this type of research is for the fact that interviews and surveys may only get polite and politically correct responses to the questions at hand.  Hidden microphones will allow me to get reactions and commentary when (seemingly) no one is watching or hearing.  Of course with this type of research comes many ethical questions as well as scholarly and discipline-specific considerations (i.e. this may be viewed as un-scholarly by those in Rhetoric and Composition and academia at large).  But it must be noted that there are ethical considerations with all types of research (even textual research) and because of that I shall end with a focus on some of those ethical issues and questions.

IV. Ethical and Scholarly Concerns:

In any research study one must consider how research will be conducted, how one will interact with those being used as subjects and how the information gained will be presented and used.  With my first mode of research (Textual Analysis) I must realize and attempt to present the “context of situation” (Hucking qtd. in Kirsch 89).  By this I mean being aware of the contexts from which certain comments came and understanding that the comments do not exist in a vacuum.  They are utterances by certain people and certain times in certain situations.  I must also put forth the reality that I am clearly hand-picking certain quotations and situations in order to narrow my focus on negative attitudes toward Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.  I must be careful to accurately present (as well as I can) the position of my sources.  And finally, I must consider notions of representation.  How will I present/re-present those whose words and attitudes I am displaying?  A final note about this stage of research is that (as you have noticed already) I will not be using pseudonyms for those people whose quotations I am using because they are already public knowledge.  This seems obvious but should be noted considering I will use pseudonyms in the three other phases of research.

In my second research method (Case Study/Ethnography) the number of ethical considerations increases.  In textual research the information I am gathering is already exposed and available to the public, but in this case the students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents are not themselves presenting their thoughts in a public forum—they are telling me specifically.  And so the largest ethical consideration for me here is the one of representation.  How will I present/re-present this school and the people who make up this community?  As Cheri L. Williams puts it in Dealing with the Data, “most researchers have yet to find a balance between confidentiality and public commendation in the writing of ethnographies and case studies” (qtd. in Mortensen 42).  I hope to be open, fair and self-reflexive in how I tell my story about the attitudes and assumptions of the people in this community.  I will consult with those interviewed to make sure their words have been properly documented and to make sure that their attitudes and assumptions have been presented in a way that seems fair and honest to them.  But I must also state that I will no doubt present these attitudes and comments in a critical manner and use these comments to paint a picture of this community’s overarching assumptions of Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric.  I am also aware that informants may feel “hurt, embarrassed, outraged, or deceived” (Williams 46) but if I feel I have been honest and fair I hope to walk away from my finished product without guilt.

My third phase of research (Interviews and Surveys) also has the ethical concern of representation. Once again I must attempt to stay true to the intended view and opinion of each participant.  Unlike the interview, where I can judge things such as tone and body language, in the surveys I must be careful to stick to the specific comments written by the subjects.  And while I may be able to directly quote these participants from their own written words I must attempt to portray them in a fair and just manner. And since the people I intend to interview and survey are public leaders I will choose to use pseudonyms for their names and their places of employment, as will be the case for the high school participants involved in the previous research phase discussed.

My final research method (“Journalistic”) may pose the most ethical concerns.  The issue of representation is still intact but here I must worry just as much (if not more) about the method I will use to gain information.  Because this method involves using hidden microphones and fake interviewers there are issues of deceit involved.  As put forth by Bob Steel from the Poynter Institiute, “too often hidden [microphones] are used as a promotional device rather than a legitimate journalistic tool.”  As I stated earlier, if I choose to use this research method it will only be to gain commentary that I feel I may not gain otherwise.  I must also consider legal issues as well.  Again Steele fittingly states, “The law appropriately protects citizens.  We should honor the law while also responsibly serving the public.”  My hope is to do both with this research.

Reflexivity

An umbrella term I would like to place over my ethical concerns for my research methodology is reflexivity.  At all times during my research I must be aware of my situatedness in the research situation.  I must be aware that as a researcher there is always subjectivity involved and that the text I am producing is more of a narrative than a strict representation of facts.  I cannot pretend to be the proverbial, objective fly-on-the-wall but an involved and interested researcher with biases and always incomplete facts and knowledge.  To end I would like to present some questions that will help in my research project’s reflexivity.

–         Since I am going into the research project looking to uncover negative comments, attitudes and assumptions toward Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric how will this bias affect my presentation of research?

–         What can/should I infer about the people who may have negative comments toward this rhetoric?

–         How do I keep myself from asking questions that may lead participants to give negative commentary?

–         How do I keep from essentializing those that speak Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric?

–         How much input will I allow those interviewed or surveyed to have in what I ultimately write about them?

Ending Statment

In implementing my research project my hope is not to simply expose and scrutinize negative attitudes towards Black vernacular/Hip Hop rhetoric or to “bring down” certain individuals or organizations but, in a sense, to hold up a mirror to a community and a nation.  Ultimately, I will want to argue that negative attitudes and assumptions are counter-productive and have real-life effects on individuals but for now my research focuses on illustrating these notions and I hope that it will be fair while serving some public good.

Works Cited

Campbell, Kermit. “getting’ our groove on: rhetoric, language and literacy for the

hip hop generation.” Detroit: Wayne State Press, 2005.

The Militant. “Ebonics plan stirs debate in Oakland.” Vol.61/No.2, 13 January 1997.

http://www.themilitant.com

Delpint, Lisa. “The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other

People’s Children”

Diringer, Elliot andLori Olszewski. “Critics May Not Understand Oakland’s Ebonics

Plan: Goal is to teach kids standard English.” Chronicle East Bayou Bureau.

21 December 1996.

http://www.sfgate.com

Kirsch, Gesa and Patricia Sullivan eds. “Methods and Methodology in Composition

Research.” Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press, 1992.

WorldNetDaily. “Bill Cosby: Poor Blacks Can’t Speak English: NAACP leaders stunned

by remarks of prominent comedian.” 20 May 2004.

http://worldnetdaily.com

Mortensen, Peter and Gesa Kirsch eds. “Ethics and Representation: In Qualitative

Studies of Literacy.” Urbana: NCTE, 1996.

O’Reilly, Bill. “Why do School Officials Hurst School Children.” 20 July 2005.

http://www.foxnews.com

PRNewswire. “Cosby Criticism of African American Language Skills Sparks Intense

Debate, Says the Brokaw Company.” 28 June 2004.

http://www.prnewswire.com

Steele, Bob. “High Standards for Hidden Cameras.” August 1999.

http://legacy.poynter.org

Trimbur, John. “Literacy and the Discourse of Crisis.”

Walters, Keith. “Whose Culture? Whose Literacy?”