Company Looking for Ebonics Linguist. Yes. Really.
So I was sitting at my computer trying to figure out what to blog about today when I got an email from one of my readers. I promised her it’d be anonymous though. It said:
I am trying to increase visibility over a really dumb move my company is making. Chenega Corporation… (a minority owned company of Alaskan natives with money from the oil spill) is currently soliciting for “ebonics linguists” to work with the DEA in Atlanta. Along with it being advertised on the Chenega site it can be found on various job sites by Google with “ebonics Chenega.”
I assume that what they really want are people that understand local Atlanta slang to help with drug ops. We have tried to convey to leadership how offensive it is to try to hire people that are proficient in a language that does not exist but so far nothing has been done and the job has been posted for at least the past week.
The response by the Director of HR at the company was – “This position along with several other linguist positions were posted based on a requirement for the USG. Although we appreciate your sensitivity we do not define the requirements nor do we select the terminology to describe these requirements; the USG provides these, and they insist that their requirements for the position be solicited verbatim.”
So I went to the link she provided me on the job and sure enough, the company is hiring an “Ebonics Linguist II *Contingent*.” Yes. In REAL LIFE. I took a screenshot of one of the responsibilities and took the liberty of circling the emphasis on understanding “ebonics” as a requirement.
*sigh* Honestly, I read this and that’s what I did. A deep sigh. On one hand, I could see them having a need to have someone who could speak the slang that the ATL folks are speaking. I see the motive but this execution doesn’t curl alla way over. This is schmedium Luffa and I give it the side-eye. Here’s why:
1. I don’t think Ebonics is a language. Yes, we all kind of know what is being referred to as “ebonics.” It’s really broken English and slang all mixed together to form a concoction of linguistic randomness.
2b. How does one prove their expertise in ebonics? Do they conduct the interview in slang and nothing else? “Wattup son? Whatcho creds looking like?”
III. This person actually has to walk around with “Ebonics Linguist” on their resume. Next job they’re looking for may give them the ultra side-eye.
They could have called this something else. Like:
- Urban Language Interpreter
- Speaker of all things Street
- Ratchetness Decipherist
- Ye Who Speaketh Slang Good
- Urban Slang Connoisseur
- Auditory Transformer of Slang
Something other than “Ebonics Linguist” would have worked. I’d like to rewrite this into the Ebonics they’re expecting the person they get to understand.
“Wattup tho son?!? We looking fa brutha (or sista) to work with us an’ sh*t. You looking for a way to make some dough? Aight bet. Well we finna be dealing with these goons and we need a homie to rap wit them cuz we’ont be knowing what they be talmbout. You gotta be schooled though. I’m talm college, nah mean? We gon needju to write some stuff up too. And you gotta think good. So whatchu think? You gon’ apply?
Or is what I wrote above not broken enough for what they’re expecting? Iunno. But what do y’all think of this? Necessary? Out of line? Or just EH.
Editor’s note: Many thanks to the reader of mine that sent this to me.