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University of Michigan Law School

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1998

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

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Against Common Sense: Why Title Vii Should. Protect Speakers Of Black English, Jill Gaulding Apr 1998

Against Common Sense: Why Title Vii Should. Protect Speakers Of Black English, Jill Gaulding

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The speech of many black Americans is marked by phrases such as 'we be writin"' or "we don't have no problems." Because most listeners consider such "Black English" speech patterns incorrect, these speakers face significant disadvantages in the job market. But common sense suggests that there is nothing discriminatory about employers' negative reactions to Black English because it makes sense to allow employers to insist that employees use correct grammar.

This article argues against this common sense understanding of Black English as bad grammar. The author first analyzes the extent of the job market disadvantages faced by Black English speakers …