Stats Is High
Ambra has an interesting post on the misleading nature of teen sex statistics. According to one survey, 84% of parents think their teen children are not sexually active. What? So all this sex is being had by just 16 kids? Come on. Self-reporting surveys are a mess. Particularly when there's some sense of status involved. Who's gonna admit to some stranger taking a survey that their daughter is a ho? Most parents, even when confronted with the evidence like the beginning of Ice Cube's "Givin' Up The Nappy Dug Out" would refuse to believe it. Oh, I'm sure they would go demanding an answer later, but at that instant they would deny everything unless it could be independently corroborated. Well that's a problem. And it's not just about parents who have no clue of what their children are up to. Everybody thinks it's somebody else. No matter what the situation is, it's always "them" with the problem. Either "they" started it or "they" aren't doing "their" part to fix it. It's time to cut that out. Seriously. We can all run off a litany of problems globally and locally. The question is, what are we doing about them? As a benefit of having a whole bunch of new visitors to the crib, I've gotten into a lot more conversations today. One of them centered on the debate over Standard Black Vernacular (SBV)/Ebonics. First of all, let me say that most people don't have a clue about this topic. They hear the term "ebonics" and wanna start talking about "proper" English or whatever without having the background knowledge to really advance the discussion. It's like knowing that the ball goes through the hoop but not knowing that you can't move unless you dribble. Stop and recognize that SBV is a linguistic terminology and has to be dealt with according to principles of linguistics. If you don't know the difference between a pidgin and a creole (and I ain't talkin' bout some high-yellow chick from New Orleans, either) then before you start opining, you need to hop in a book and learn the fundamentals. Then try to bring your argument up the court and see if you can score. Just had to get that out of the way first. Like I was saying though, I can break bread on SBV all day. But there's a difference between me discussing it as one of my intellectual curiosities and me talking about it as it pertains to youngsters (and some old heads)who can't construct a sentence in standard English. I've probably said 50 times that I'm not a prescriptivist, linguistic or otherwise, and that's true. I ain't gon' lie, when I talk, it's SBV all the way, unless there's some significant reason I shouldn't. But the rub is that in those situations when it's not appropriate for me to be talkin' about some "yahmeen" or whatever, I know how to construct sentences according to Standard English and make sure to tack on that terminal consonant and all that good stuff. Even the people who argue for the legitimacy of SBV don't use SBV to do so. They have to break out their polysyllabic, latinate vocabularies with crisp diction and fully-branched sentence trees. They know it. So when I start talking about "them" (people who don't use Standard English) to the other "them" (Standard English prescriptivists) I'm quick to justify and explain and elaborate all the reasons why SBV is perfectly legitimate as a language form. And then I might go back to some other college-educated Black folks and talk about how racist the prescriptivists are for not recognizing what I'm talking about. But at the end of the day, has my pontificating "on behalf" of the linguistically challenged really done anything except display my intellectual perspicacity and verbal dexterity? No. I've just pointed out the problem with two "thems" and solved none. What's the point in that? When the rubber meets the road...or whatever else the rubber might meet, it's all about friction. Nothing is going to change as long as we remain in our cocoons of comfortable knowledge and do nothing. It's not just "them." In most cases, "them" is "us," except we don't want to admit it. If you look at my post on racism, you'll see that I'm not big on that term at all. It's worn out like the super band waist band on some 10 year old Fruit of the Looms. But even at that, racism still exists. (Bear in mind that racism and prejudice are very different. See the prejudice joint for my take on that.) The question is, what is each of us going to do about it? Are we going to point at people who are more "racist" than us and at people who seem to be obsessed with finding racism and stay where we are, or are we going to try to eliminate whatever racism does exist? It's easy to say how much better it's gotten, but are we willing to do the sometimes uncomfortable work it takes to make things even better than they are now? Part of the reason parents don't know what their kids are doing is that they're too uncomfortable to ask the tough questions and make the tough observations. As Ambra says, far too many parents depend on the news for statistics on their own children instead of actually getting involved in the lives of their off-spring. Likewise, each of us needs to step out the statistics and deal with people. Real, live, breathing people. Don't just talk about "the poor", get in there and help them. And I'm not just talking about throwing money at them via some faith-based institution or charity organization. TV ain't goin' nowhere. We can miss a few episodes to help some people and catch up on the reruns later. Let's stop the yappin' and make it happen.