"Separate but Equal"... The Racial Divide.
For the longest time when we talked about racism it was about black and white. The word discrimination comes from the Latin "discriminare", which means to "distinguish between". To discriminate generally is to make a distinction between people on the basis of class, age, sex and of course race, without regard to individual merit. Have we really improved in the category of race relations or just found another group to "pick on"?
This is Leticia, and the other night I heard a story on the news about a town where the folks were all bent out of shape because one of the students recited the pledge of allegiance in Spanish. The principal of the school said that he fully supported the young man's attempt to unite his culture and his new country. People are still up in arms over President Bush's comments last year about how "the national anthem ought to be sung in English" followed by a Senator introducing a resolution requiring the Star-Spangled banner be sung ONLY in English.
Now I do realize that there are a few different ways to look at this. This is America. The official language of our country is English. People that were born here know that and people that visit our country are aware that we are an ENGLISH speaking country. Now when I went to on vacation to Germany, I didn't speak a word of German. However, if I made a decision to move there and live there, I feel it would be in my best interest to learn the language. I wouldn't expect them to put out department of motor vehicle booklets in English or when I made phone calls I wouldn't expect to hear "for English press 2". I'm in Germany!!
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Now the difference in my mind is that America prides herself on being the melting pot. The country where all races, nationalities all cultures can come together and live "one nation under god". We have China towns and Little Italia's in every major city. In parts of California and Texas we have some cities with more "non-English" residence than citizens that speak English only.
When I went away to school in England for a semester, I was shocked and appalled by the fact that many people from other countries knew more about our history and government than we did. We are the only group of people that can go to another country and get mad because they don't speak ENGLISH. In many other countries, their citizens speak more than one language. It's us arrogant and lazy behind American's that only speak one language and Ebonics doesn't count.
Why all the controversy now? Why is it important for us to know our history? Maybe if we did, we'd realize that in 1919, the U.S. Bureau of Education commissioned a Spanish-language version of "The Star Spangled Banner". Here we are 88 years later...Our State Department even has four versions of the anthem in Spanish featured on their website. Perhaps if we weren't given so many mixed messages, as citizens we could make qualified judgments based on facts not fears. What harm is caused by allowing each group to embrace our anthem and make it their own? What harm is there in trying to get along with a group of people that we've welcomed with open arms into our work force, neighborhoods, schools?
We get upset and angry when we are targeted, profiled, categorized and discriminated against, but we are just as quick to do it to another group. Why is it that we expect others to conform as we continue to fight for and celebrate the fact that we are a free county that takes pride in our ability to be independent free thinkers? What is that, "we love you just the way you are...so, Change!"
Are we saying, "America is the melting pot, it's okay to put in your own ingredients as long as they smell, taste and look like the original ingredients? I get that our national anthem is an American tradition; the question is xenophobia a part of that tradition as well?
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