Just when you thought that the government did not have a sense of humor, here comes the nonsense. Honestly, I’m not sure as to whether to be insulted or intrigued by this so I will leave this one for you kind people. The Drug Enforcement Administration is seeking to hire nine people to translate conversations picked up on wiretaps during investigations. An inquiry was sent to contractors as part of a request to companies to provide hundreds of translators in 114 languages. And Ebonics is one of them.
They are seeking to hire translators in the following states: Atlanta, Georgia; Washington D.C.; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Miami, Florida; One catch is that you may be required to testify in court in regards to what you interpreted on the tapes. This is not a joke.
I appreciate the DEA’s diligence in trying to catch the bad guys and being willing to go far and beyond the norm if necessary to do so. I can also support this more so than I did them teaching Ebonics in school. If you recall a few years ago, there was talk of schools teaching Ebonics in the classroom. I felt that this would be a waste of time because Ebonics is a steady changing language that alters by region and kids do not need extra help in learning a language that they share with their peers during valuable school time.
Yet, deep down inside, I still feel a hint of racism and classism. As if they are saying we cannot understand these animals so we need to get an interpreter who can speak their coon language. Am I reading too much into this?
In my opinion, the DEA seeking out Ebonics speakers is also different than them teaching Ebonics in school because they are not promoting Ebonics. Unfortunately, Ebonics can be a curse for those who have no idea when or how to speak proper English. Again, this is why on one hand, I actually think that this might be a useful tool for the DEA. If they feel that not being able to interpret the drug dealers is a weakness than they should do everything necessary to put their best effort in their fight against drugs. I do feel this way but again, the nagging image that they are laughing and saying ‘We can’t speak this poor people s**t’ still comes rushing to my head.
What truly amazes me is the respect and attention that Ebonics has been getting. First the discussion of teaching it in school and now this? By seeking out interpreters for Ebonics is the DEA promoting bad language skills? Are you insulted by the DEA’s approach? Do you feel that this approach is at all racist?
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