Plaats: Meertens Instituut
Tijd: 16.00 uur


Speaking While Black or Speaking While Brown in Global Perspective


John BAUGH

Abstract. In the wake of the Oakland Ebonics controversy evidence of linguistic bigotry against Blacks and Latin@s in the United States was revealed in schools and society, including linguistic harassment of English language learners on the job. This presentation is multinational, based on studies of alternative forms of linguistic discrimination against low-income populations in the United States, Jamaica, Brazil, France, and South Africa. Evidence of discrimination in schools, perpetuating racial and/or socioeconomic disparities in educational achievement exists in each of the preceding countries. Studies of linguistic profiling in the United States reveal overt discrimination against Blacks and Latin@s in housing markets across the nation; that is, based on experimental collaborations with fair housing agencies in states that have large non-white populations. Beyond legal considerations derived from evidence of racial discrimination in housing markets, Spanish speakers have occasionally been fired because of language usage; that is, where employers have insisted on “English only” work environments that deny Spanish speakers usage of their mother tongue; such policies may be in conflict with the first amendment. Litigation pertaining to Latin@s and Blacks for whom English is not native are ongoing, based on claims of linguistic harassment in the workplace; that is, where racist remarks by employers resulted in hostile work environments for non-white employees, especially if they were not native speakers of English. Although South Africa now has eleven official languages, linguistic, educational, and occupational preferences still favor fluent speakers of English and Afrikaans. Disparities in educational achievement and occupational opportunities in that country show some striking similarities and noteworthy differences to instances of linguistic profiling in the United States.