In the Washington Post Article, “‘Get out!’: Woman roars in defense of Spanish speakers confronted for not speaking English” written by Alex Horton, he recounts the events that occurred on October 1st at grocery store in Rifle, Colorado. Two women, speaking Spanish while they shopped were interrupted by a woman named Linda Dwyer. According to the article, Dwyer was ‘offended’ that the two women were speaking Spanish and confronted them saying ‘speak English and be American’.
Articles like this makes us question whether or not our nation has fully embraced it’s multi-language background. The article “The English-Only movement Myths, Reality, and Implications for Psychology” (Padilla A., et.al.) reports that 18 states in the United States have designate English as the official state language, with the exception of Hawaii who has declared English and Hawaiian both the official languages. In addition, some of these states have been pressuring the federal government to step in and amend the constitution so that it declares English the official language. The problem with movements like this is that, like Dwyer, they fail to acknowledge our nations multi-language background. When interviewed, Horton reports that when she was asked about why she acted the way she did she responded “It’s note a race thing, its a patriotic thing”. Interestingly enough, this occurred in a state that has declared English as the official language for the state. This proves my point that if state declares English its official language, it gives the constituents the permission to disrespect and belittle other languages on the grounds of patriotism. Now imagine if what would occur if our nation, given its current stance on immigration, declared English the official language. Surely encounters like the ones that happened in this small town in Colorado will occur more often on a nation wide level. I believe that English would suddenly become a political item used against immigrants with different language backgrounds.
According to an World Atlas article “The most spoken languages in the U.S”, written by James Burton this past June, Spanish is the native language of nearly 37,458,470 Americans making is the second most popular language in the U.S. I’m a part of those 37,458,470. I was born in Dominican Republic and learned Spanish as my native language. When I immigrated to the U.S with my mother I remember having a difficult time making friends. At the time I was five and had just begun Kindergarten and I was placed in an English only speaking classroom. I would be called out of class for English classes and that was the only time that in school I was able to speak Spanish. Nineteen years later, I can now switch between both language sin ningún problema. But I never forget where my roots are and thankfully living in the Bronx my first couple of years in the U.S has helped me fully embrace both sides of who I am.
If second language learners of English as discouraged to speak their native language in public places it would turn a blind eye into what makes our country so beautiful. There’s strength in having a bilingual or multilingual background and it also preserves languages. To me being American is embracing every accent mark, every rolled r, and still be able to write this entire post.