PRINT March 1997



[Gary Dauphin]: So Black English is for secret stuff?

Reesie: It’s not secret secret. But it’s private.

—“Schoolyard Sages: New York City School Kids Weigh In on Ebonics,” The Village Voice

RETURNING THIS WINTER to Chicago from Bombay with the sweet singsong of my native Bombay Bazaar English still sounding in my ears, I’m confronted with the latest American cultural brouhaha—the Ebonic plague. Like my friend and quasi-compatriot Mr. Rushdie, I am now quite convinced that writing about something can actually make it happen—to you. So there I am, Ms. Respected Reader, Dear Madam, as we are politely saying always in Bombay. So I’m trying too too hard to speak without mistake, sounding totally like polite, proper BBC English, not yankee crude, “ya” this, “gonna” that, always opening bigmouth and talking through nose. No, I’m trying for pure Westminster-Oxford-Waterloo English when I’m dispatched

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