America… Land of Immigrants
Being a citizen in the US is a declaration that you have ancestry from somewhere else on the planet, unless you are a Native American. If we are not native, then where do we come from? Our country was founded by people from across the globe aspiring to become established in America. In the process of doing so, these early immigrants produced the social and cultural framework of life in America. For nearly four hundred years, our nation has continuously had every race, language, and culture contribute to the characterization of being an American.
There can be many difficulties for immigrants coming to this country. One of the biggest struggles for newly arrived peoples is to simultaneously be an American and retain their personal cultural identity. It must be difficult to find the balance of personal identity and not seam un-American. This issue is discussed in the short essay by Myriam Marquez “Why and When We Speak Spanish in Public.” In the essay, Marquez explains how she and her family chose to use their native tongue, Spanish, instead of English. She says they do this, despite the impression some people may get of them being rude, “out of respect for their parents and comfort in our cultural roots.”
Marquez makes several interesting points about being an American who speaks a foreign language. She uses an excellent metaphor to clarify her message. Marquez says, “As if talking in Spanish is some sort of litmus test used to gauge American patriotism.” She also notes that she or her family would not think of alienating a friend who did not speak Spanish, by speaking Spanish in front of them. Marquez says that would be audacious and uncouth.
Another short essay in our text that is about immigration, specifically, the language barrier, is “The English Only Movement” by Jake Jamieson. Jamieson summarizes the growing issue of not having an official language, English, in the US. He does not agree there are significant reasons to have English legally become the official language. However, quite a few people think differently. Large portions of conservative groups say in defense of “American” cultural identity, that we need to implement this law. Jamieson cites many sources in his essay and one quote particularly, from Bob Dole, emphasizes the conservative attitude about non-English speaking people:
Dole says; “Promoting English as our national language is not an act of hostility but a welcoming act of inclusion.” Dole then says that while immigrants are encouraged to continue speaking their native...