Black English or Standard English? That was the question June Jordan's students were faced with. They wanted to write a letter to the police about the brother of a fellow student, Willie Jordan that had been killed by cops. Should the students use Standard English and write a professional letter which contains no feeling and might not get the point across? Or should the letter be written in Black English, where there is the possibility that it will not be understood or disregarded. And while discussing the topic of Black English, ask yourself, while these students are fighting racism, are they also supporting it?.
At the State University of New York at Stony Book, Professor June Jordan taught a course called "The Art of Black English". This class was focused on teaching students the language of African Americans who first came to this country. This language was titled "Black English." A group of rules were established, titled "Guidelines for Black English", one of which states: "Clarity: If the sentence is not clear then it is not Black English. It is a language that is kept simple and strays from many of the rules of Standard English. Instead of using different verb tenses, both past and present tense are written the same. For example, "He goes to the store He go to the store and He went to the store He go to the store".
Due to the topic of this letter, the students feel that it needs to be written in Black English. They want this letter to have feeling and contain all emotion that the family of Willie Jordan experienced. An excerpt from the letter sates "Reggie, like many brother and sister, he a victim of brutal racist police". This statement, if you do not know any Black English, can still be understood. It makes a statement about police brutality in the black community and ties it back to the brutality of blacks in the history of the country. If the statement read: "Reggie, like many other African American men and women, was a victim of police brutality.