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Ignoronics: Critical Race Theory’s ancestors

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In 1997 there was a massive push to get a newly created “language” made official so it could be required in education and accepted everywhere. They called it “Ebonics”, the combination of Ebony (black) and Phonics (sound or language). In reality, it was an effort to gain funding for a huge government infrastructure to not only “make it OK” but actually make it important to  learn and understand the language of the streets. The uneducated misuse of English, primarily in majority black communities.

Here’s an article I wrote about it at the time. This was submitted as a “letter to the Editor” for the Opinion page of the Los Angeles Times. I don’t think they ever printed it.

My satirical tone should be evident, but, though tongue-in-cheek, I was quite serious about the faulty thinking behind this attempt to alter our society by lowering our standards for language and education. 

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The reason I’m publishing it today is to draw your attention to the strategies, tactics and actions of those who are pushing yet another idea that cannot be documented with facts: Critical Race Theory. Likewise this applies to the racist concept called “The 1619 Project.”

Letter to the Editor – In other words, “to whom it may concern.”

Subject: Ignoronics Education

Date: First written in 1997, revised in 2021

From: Business author & speaker, Jim Cathcart

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Author’s note: “Ebonics” is not a language. Treating it as such is an insult to the uneducated and an ineffective attempt to legitimize their ignorance. Taken seriously, and considering its broader implications, the following is worth your consideration.

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In light of the recent flap over the so-called “Ebonics”, I feel it is imperative that someone speak up for the other neglected minorities. Several million citizens of this country are educationally handicapped by the fact that they grew up in an American subculture that has its own “language.”

Their access to the American Dream is limited by the fact that their teachers often don’t look like them and don’t speak the same language that they do. In fact, their teachers haven’t even been trained in how to relate “standard” English to the English variation spoken within their subculture. This causes feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

We can’t continue to disenfranchise these citizens. They and their families work, vote and pay taxes in the United States and deserve equal access to a good public education. It is only right that we dedicate some of the public resources, money, to the creation of specialized training materials, teacher training seminars, teaching tools and increased public awareness of their problem. In this way they will feel more a part of the classes and be more likely to understand “standard” English.

Granted, only through the understanding and use of “standard” English will they be able to succeed. After all, the entire business community and media networks upon which our nation relies use “standard” English as their primary and, in most cases, only language. For that matter, the business community worldwide considers “standard” English the dominant language. Those who are not knowledgeable and skilled in the use of this language are indeed limited in their ability to get jobs, vote wisely, make sales, earn promotions, capture opportunities, solve problems, or just basically get by. We must correct this situation.

The disenfranchised groups to which I refer above are:

Rednecks, Foul Mouths, Hicks, Hillbillies, Street people (formerly known as “Hoboes”), Women (girl talk), Men (guy talk), Spanglish-speakers and possibly even more.

These folks deserve a break. Really. Each of them meets the basic criteria for consideration as a genuine subculture with its own language. Not slang mind you, but real languages.

  •          They have an identifiable culture. These cultures have endured for many generations. Their language is a matter of wide awareness and public record. Movies, books, How-to-speak-it manuals and tapes, famous figures (icons) and more have validated their worthiness for being considered a language.

For example: The Rednecks- Their look, behavior patterns, regional habitats, social strata, and language are widely acknowledged. They have worldwide roots and parallel subcultures. Comedian and actor Jeff Foxworthy has brought this to light most recently, but their roots go back to earlier years. Their language is called “Good Ole Bonics”, a combination of “good old boy” and “phonics”.

  •          Foul Mouths have the biggest problem of these groups. Their language, “Profanics”, (a combination of “profanity” and “phonics”) is widely known and in popular use. This is the longest lived of all the subcultures. Yet none of the existing education is geared to reaching them. They use words like “sh*t”, which has multiple meanings.

If used as “No Sh*t”, it either means, “I am not kidding you.” or “do you really mean that?” “Get your sh*t together” means “control yourself” or “get organized.”

Their word “D*mn” could mean, “Wow!”, or “Oops”, or “That makes me mad” or half a dozen other things depending upon context.

  •          The Hicks can be recognized by their dress, grooming, areas of residence and by their language. Their roots can be traced to rural locales worldwide. “Hayseedonics” contains such words and phrases as: “Dad burn!” meaning “I’m surprised or disappointed.” “It ain’t, dun it!” which means “No that is not so. I’m emphatic about that.” Perhaps the greatest lie being perpetrated today is that “ain’t” isn’t a real word. Ask anyone who was ever exposed to “Hayseedonics” if they are aware of this word. I’ll bet 100% of the population will say “Yes I know ‘Ain’t’ and even use it occasionally.”

As you can easily see, we can’t afford to overlook the individual needs and unique cultural differences of any group.

So let’s see what we can agree on. How about this:

  • All citizens deserve access to a good education. If they or their families are contributing to our society or economy then they deserve a shot at success. If they are not members of our society, then they should be educated by that country or society to which they belong. Those who don’t yet “belong” anywhere must then make a commitment to someplace before they can expect it to make a commitment to them.
  • The general population should not be deprived of resources by requiring them to accommodate exceptional requests made by those from each subculture. (Paid for through extra taxes and fees.)
  • This is not about race, religion or subculture. It is about learning the American language, the one self-advancement skill that transcends all others in the world today.
  • There is no such language as “Ebonics” and there never was. It is merely a word recently coined to describe the vernacular used by ignorant (read “not aware”) people primarily in the black community in the United States. In fact it is defined as “black English.” Well if it is Black English, then call it that. But don’t try to sophisticate it by the creation of a new word accompanied by a request for special funding or training to help teachers learn it. That is de-education.

If you want to make a case for Black English, then first establish the criteria which it must meet in order to be considered a language. Once those criteria are agreed upon, then they must also be applied to Rednecks, Foul Mouths, and You-name-its too.

After all, we are talking about public money here. Mine and yours. If our money is to be spent on it, then it must be fair to all races and subcultures. Money must also be set aside to teach the new language to all students. To be fair, surely Yiddish (a genuine language by all standards) qualifies much more fully than any of the languages currently under consideration. Its roots are deeper, the number who speak it greater and its culture more strongly established. And what about the several dozen Native American languages which predate English in this country? Many other “sub” cultures would qualify as well.

Let’s all just grow up and realize that we can’t attend to every person and group as much as we would like to. No society has the resources to support every non-mainstream aspect of its culture. And if it did, then the citizens would have no incentive to distinguish themselves through achievement. Besides, if the individual has no personal responsibility to make adjustments, then there is no pride in the adjustment and any learning that takes place is only of token value.

         Surely we don’t need to train teachers in “baby talk” so that they can meet infants on their own level and help them transition into speaking actual words.

There is no reasonable way on earth to dilute the public resources so thoroughly that all subcultures are accommodated fairly, except by requiring them to meet certain basic criteria on their own.

These are things such as:

Willingness to attend school during normal school hours.

Desire to learn and consistent action to prove it.

Appreciation of the fact that this education is being provided for them by the taxes paid by their neighbors and fellow citizens, you and me.

Willingness to let the teachers teach and not interfere with them by demanding special attention beyond the teacher’s job description.

Realizing that all people are self-made, but, as Earl Nightingale once said, “only the successful will admit it.”

In other words, we are all personally responsible for how we turn out.

Adults can make the world more accessible to children only to a point. That point is where the public resources, money and time, run out. From that point on, it is the individual’s responsibility to do what it takes.

Ask any well adjusted person from a limited or deprived background what it took for them to do so well. Without exception they will tell you that they took what they had, did their best with it and from there on, created their own opportunities through dedication, determination and hard work.

         So let’s take all the “languages” which grew out of ignorance of English and call them collectively, “Ignoronics.” Instead of dealing with them individually, treat them as a group. In this group of “languages” the common denominator is all of them are based on ignorance of English grammar. We can then offer a balanced menu of training which all can benefit from. Then every subgroup can still relate to it. That allows us to reach out to all subgroups without unfairly accommodating some while depriving others of such specialized attention. If we single out Black English for special attention, we ignore larger and possibly more deserving groups in the process. Let’s convert all who speak these many tongues into productive well adjusted citizens by showing them a better way to communicate and not by training our teachers to speak their “Ignoronics.”

 

 

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Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is an Executive MBA Professor, Author of 21 books, Hall of Fame Professional Speaker, Top 1% TEDx video (2.4 million views), US Army veteran, Singer/Songwriter, and Lifelong Motorcyclist. He is known as "Your Virtual VP" for his Advisory/Mentor work with organizations worldwide. Based in Texas...and proud of it!



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Education

Myths and Lies That Permeate Society

If myths can survive for decades, is there any hope that the Left’s current manufactured myths will ever die

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To anyone with an ounce of objectivity, it is apparent that the Left is fueled by myths, purveyed by Joe Biden and the mainstream media. Consider the “fine people on both sides” myth or the “Trump hates immigrants” lie that they routinely draw upon to slander Donald Trump.

Consider the myths and lies that Jen Psaki seeks to initiate at every press conference — the withdrawal from Afghanistan went accordingly to plan, school children need to wear masks, Biden doesn’t advocate open borders, $3.5 trillion in spending will cost nothing, inflation isn’t rising, etc.

Non-political myths, however, have circulated for years. More than a quarter century ago researchers for Nova, aired on the Public Broadcasting Service undertook an exhaustive examination of the myths surrounding the Bermuda Triangle. They found absolutely no statistical deviation in the incidence of disaster or disappearance of planes and ships in that area. The team concluded that those people who propagate the myth do so with limited, anecdotal “evidence,” usually for considerable commercial gain.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

Full Moon

Rising crime with the full moon – Several studies in scholarly journals have found no correlation between the incidence of a full moon and aberrant human behavior. More people tend to be out on nights with a full moon, which correlates directly with mishaps, accidents, and predictably, crimes.

A similar phenomenon occurs during holiday seasons. Since more people leave home and drive long distances, more burglaries, admissions to hospital emergency rooms, and arrests by police occur. Yet no one suggests that Christmas or the 4th of July are directly linked with abhorrent human behavior?

Ancient Aliens?

The great pyramids of Egypt – The Learning Channel aired a program in 1988 in which a team of scientists and engineers visited Egypt to determine how the great pyramids were built. Recreating the activities needed to build a pyramid, the team found that with arithmetic equations – without the knowledge of pi – the Egyptians built the structures that many people erroneously believe involved aliens. In fact, construction of the Great Pyramid requires only seventh-grade arithmetic.

The Egyptians were masters of moving stone by using sand and working in coordinated teams. Rather than using slaves to build the pyramids, the researchers deduced that an inspired citizenry, seeking to be part of the first great nation, chose to offer its labor.

A Bogus Industry Thrives

JFK conspiracy theories – These won’t die, but they should. There is no question as to who shot and killed President John F. Kennedy. It was Lee Harvey Oswald, and he was acting alone. This is explained in intricate detail by Gerald Posner in his landmark book Case Closed (1993).

Mr. Posner dislodged every conceivable stone (including Oliver Stone) to show why it was Lee Harvey Oswald and only Oswald who committed this crime. After illuminating Posner’s work in 25-page feature in its publication, U.S. News & Word Report declared it would never review another book on the topic because the case, indeed, was closed.

Yet, people are invested in having JFK’s death be surrounded by controversy. Since 1995, JFK conspiracy theories annually support a $250,000,000 industry.

The Thing That Wouldn’t Die!

If myths and lies can survive for decades, or even centuries, is there any hope that the Left’s current manufactured myths and non-stop will ever die?

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Education

Despite the Lures, Reduce Complexity and Take Charge of Your Day

Dial down the level of enticement that otherwise surrounds you to maintain effectiveness and to have more of a life

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The news media has society in a stranglehold. Even if you actively choose to ignore political events, the media has a way of reeling you back in, through soundbites, captivating headlines, and lurid photos, most of it for a ‘progressive’ agenda. Then throw in the non-stop pitches for the array of all the newfangled products and services that you ‘ought’ to acquire.

Juggling all of our personal and professional responsibilities, along with the ever-represent ‘requirement’ to stay informed adds up to a world of complexity, which can confound and debilitate us.

Complexity is frustrating. It causes us to spend countless hours paying attention to what could be summarized in minutes or avoided altogether, and untold sums of money to diminish or undo what perhaps didn’t need to be done at all.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

Complexity Won’t Subside

How does complexity show up in our lives? You’re frazzled by the staggering amount of technology already in your life. You need to find a manual to understand the manual that came with your computer.

You constantly find yourself immersed in a sea of technical terms, such as data relay, encryption, USB debugging, and CPU usage, that you would greatly prefer to not have encountered at all. You have no chance of understanding the two-dozen buttons on the remote control devices that come with your television set, DVR, DVD, Tivo, Dish, DirecTV and Roku.

Simply because you were born in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s and are a functioning member of society, the relentless drumbeat of complexity continues every day. Yes, the world is complex, society is complex, and your life is complex, but antidotes that offer relief are available and they are within your grasp.

Designed with Intelligence?

Any product or service that you acquire, any piece of technology, or anything you add to your professional or personal life comes with instructions, options, and features that someone else – an engineer – designed before it ever made its way to you.

As author Vance Packard told us more than 60 years ago in The Waste Makers, when it comes to operating a gadget, what we think represents our own shortcomings is often erroneous. The manufacturer made many decisions before the product was ever shipped from the plant, involving the quality of materials to be used and the design and layout of the various switches, buttons, and dials that adorn the appliance. The intelligence with which engineers design a product dramatically impacts how easy or difficult it will be for the typical consumer to use it effectively.

Consider clothes dryers, microwave units, blenders, radio/alarm clocks, and DVD players. Some of them, mysteriously, have instructions too complicated and confusing to fathom, while others are easier to operate. Did you luck out, or did the engineer/designer back at the plant have something to do with it? Hereafter, seek products designed with intelligence.

Recognize that having fewer switches, buttons, or dials does not necessarily mean that the product is less sophisticated or offers fewer benefits or features. Quite the opposite might be true! Simplicity, rather than complexity, is your product preference among items that otherwise are relatively equal in terms of cost, durability, expected life cycle, and warranty. If one item has dozens of features, while another has only a handful (namely the ones you need!), choose the latter and don’t fret about a possible upgrade later.

Who’s the Boss? You Are

Purchasing items with excessive instructions and complex operating procedures invites complexity into your life. You’ve personally acquired most of what surrounds you and are largely responsible for your immediate environment.

Less, quite often, can be more in terms of the favorable impact on your life, peace of mind, and quality of leisure time. In an age where a satellite dish can bring 60,000+ programs per month to your television set, ask yourself, would 4,000 or 5,000 programs be sufficient?

When I face a technical challenge, I give that task to a younger person – someone who has grown up with technology and to whom it is second nature.

Keep Complexity at Bay

By making basic but effective purchases and identifying needed helpers, we can keep complexity at bay. We can dial down the level of complexity that otherwise surrounds us in order to maintain effectiveness and have more of a life.

Exercise your power to acquire fewer television channels, subscribe to fewer publications, select products with a greater ease of use, and remember who is in control. You are! Not the government, not the media, and not some unseen force.

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