“Bad” Grammar is African-American? Aw, C’mon!

As a reporter for many, many years, I have had to decide over and over and over again whether to “clean up” quotes.  I nearly always did. I would reproduce a quote phonetically only if there was some point to be made by doing so. My reason? Nobody – not you, not I, not the Queen of England, always speaks the Queen’s English as decreed in the grammar books.

And in my opinion, Americans are among the worst “offenders.”

I’m not saying some Americans don’t “talk pretty.” When I was 18, working at Tower Isle Hotel in Jamaica, I fell in love with an airline stewardess from Memphis, Tennessee because I was absolutely beguiled by her “Southern drawl.”

But I wouldn’t say English grammar is Americans’ strong suit. Not white Americans, not black Americans, not Hispanic Americans – not Americans of any ethnic or regional origin, or any social or economic class.

Down here in Central Florida, the past participle is virtually a thing of the past. “Should have gone” is very often replaced by “shoulda went.” Double negatives abound. The final “g” on those “ing” words gets no respect. And even on television, where the anchors are supposed to be educated, I frequently hear them violating conventional grammar with such quaint constructions as “between you and I.”

So I was amused when I read in Yahoo News this morning that the Associated Press is being accused of “racism” because a reporter left off the final “g” in quotes from the president’s address at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual awards dinner in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Here’s how AP quoted the president:

“Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

African-American author Karen Hunter complained on MSNBC the next day that the news service was racist to call attention to Obama’s dropped “g’s.”

Click here to read the news story.

I don’t know why the AP reporter decided to leave off the “g’s” in part of the president’s quote.  He might have been trying to illustrate Obama’s facility with African-American dialect.

But if that was it, I have to smile.

Who in their right mind thinks African-Americans are unique in dropping those pesky “g’s”? Have they ever listened to Texas Governor Rick Perry?

Indisputably, there is a linguistic form known as Ebonics, which is favored by many African-Americans, especially when talking among themselves. But complainin’, “grumblin'” and “cryin”” ain’t it, brother.

If AP was trying to be racist, as Ms. Hunter claims, they did a mighty poor job of it.

6 thoughts on ““Bad” Grammar is African-American? Aw, C’mon!

  1. Jamaican patios:

    meh looze affa Obamma. Em nah get fimi vote again!!!! Why?
    He is a Black man who bombed Libya, sent drone to Somalia to bomb another African country. He smiled in Qudaffi’s face, shook his hand and back stabbed him. This reminds me of the play Julius Ceaser – Etau Brutae?

    During slavery, the White man never whipped his slave himself. He always had another slave do his dirty work. Obama is a modern day slave, who is being used by Wall Street and other coorpotate interest.

    He can serve Jews, Hispanics, Gays but what about the Blacks who voted for him 95%. Once bitten twice shy.

    There is no way would the Black community have accepted a White president saying the nasty things Obama said to the Black caucus. He said the Blacks were whining. The Blacks would have never put up with that from a full White man so why are they taking it from some half caste Negro in the White house?

    No more Obama!!!! Vote independant. Now run tell that!!!!!!!!

  2. Who are you going to vote for? Is your disapointment in how little he has done for you and what he did to African nations enough to have you vote for the party that doesn’t care if you live or die as long as it doesn’t cost them any money? Do you feel that he should have ignored the black countries and let them alone to kill their citizens at will just so that he wouldn’t be hurting one African in defense of another? Do you turn your back on anyone who says, “buck up, quit your whining and eat your peas”? I am curious, how far do we take this and to whom do we turn? right in Bernie Sanders name?

  3. 80% of the time I vote independant, so I will go back to doing that. Jews, Gays and Hispanics can get Obama’s attention. What about the Blacks? Gadaffi is a good man, who did a lot for SubSarahan Africa. He wanted to have the Dinar backed with Gold. That is the real reason why international bankers got rid of him. The Federal Reserve , which is not apart of the US government, has the US in a trillion dollar debt. Lybia is not in debt and is the only country in Africa that is not controlled by international bankers. These are fact! They want his oil, gold and man made lake. Fight Gadaffi! Colonialism must end! These people want to recolonize Africa and go back to neocolonalism. Someone has to stand up to them! God bless Haiti who stood up to the French!!!!

  4. Janice, you are being short sighted here, and unreasonable as well. Qudaffi is a Monster and needs to go. President Obama has been thwarted at every turn in trying to bring positive change to America. You are also being quite racist in calling him a half-caste Negro. Are you completely full blooded? I am willing to bet that you are not. Trying to speak like a Jamaican does not make you a Jamaican. I am a Jamaican of mixed bloods and our Motto is ” Out of many, one people.” Billy G.

  5. I am Jamaican, so I have the right to speak in patios; White Jamaican and Indian Jamaican blood runs in my viens but at the end of the day, I am Black. One drop of Black blood makes you Black in the USA. For that reason, I can call Obama a half cast Negro. I also have licence to say the word “nigger”, which Whites can not say publically. Qudaffi is a great man. It is about his oil and gold being backed by the dinar. These international bankers want Lybia to be like the rest of the African countries – broke and at the mercy of the IMF. Long live Qadaffi!!!!!!!!!!!

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