Lost in this debate is the fact that numerous scholars have entered their support of Ebonics as a rule-governed linguistic system (Baugh, 1983, 1999; 2000; Dillard, 1972; Ewars, 1996; Poplack, 2000; Rickford, 1977,1997,1999; Stewart, 1967; DeFrantz, 1979; Ewers, n.
Others bemoan the potentially tragic consequences of interaction between teachers that are unaware of Ebonics and students that speak it (Baugh, 1999, 2000; Margaret 2001; Sulentic, 2001).
Furthermore, the use of Ebonics by students does not necessarily represent an inability to speak "standard" English but rather a conscious choice by students to refuse "to be defined by a language that has never been able to recognize" them (Baldwin, 1998, p.
Despite the immense and variegated body of literature examining Ebonics that is far too substantial to cite completely here, few authors have developed strategies to engage the "Ebonics debate" constructively within the university classroom.
The purpose of this exercise is not a debate of the merits of Ebonics as a language but rather the larger social processes that frame the manner in which Ebonics and other modes of speech are regarded.
Todd's (1997) description of Ebonics includes "abnormal, defective, dysfunctional;" "unfortunate;" "group reinforced speech pathology;" "a major language disorder;" and "poor language habits learned on the streets.
Although Ebonics is the focus of this article, this exercise is by no means limited to the discussion of Ebonics.
The origins of this exercise are found in our desire to more constructively respond to the intense antipathy that students' frequently express towards what is commonly referred to as Ebonics in discussions of the social context of language.
Unfortunately, "discussion" essentially meant that the students, without regard to ethnicity, generally wanted to assail Ebonics and, despite their attempts to avoid this, those that speak it.
28-29) offers interesting discussion of "the power of labeling" and "lexical denigration" in the Ebonics debate on the internet.
Consequently, one student may submit two squares indicating a negative perception of Ebonics, one square indicating a negative perception of English and three squares indicating a positive regard for the British accent, for example.
In this administration of this exercise, Ebonics is the most negatively rated MOS and British Accent is the most positively rated (se Table 1).
The students indicated that few had ever been to Great Britain while the overwhelming majority interact with people that they think speak Ebonics or think of themselves as at least occasional Ebonics speakers.
The students in the most recent administration were particularly surprised by the fact that Ebonics was so negatively rated.