Language racism towards immigrants? No, thank you.

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Recently, this image started roaming around the internet, especially facebook, and it started to cause a lot of discussions about the fact that any foreign person speaking a language which is not the country’s official one should adapt to the local customs and culture, and speak the local language, especially if we talk about residents. This article will not, in fact, consider the great number of tourists who temporarily visit other parts of the world.

Why are foreign people looked at with such annoyance? Why when someone hears a person speaking another language they immediately start making judgments about it? 

Every country is hosting at least someone from another background, who speaks another language and has a different culture. This type of racism though happens in countries where immigrants have been there for a long time, or in countries which have been FOUNDED by immigrants, like those in the American continent.

The example shown in the picture shows how many people react to others who are just living their life and not asking for their opinion. Anyone speaking Spanish is considered Mexican in the United States, as well as anyone looking a little different from the WASP “predominant” culture is considered an illegal immigrant, most probably coming from Mexico.
What most people do not know is that not everyone speaking Spanish comes from Mexico and/or is an illegal immigrant. There are many Salvadoreans, Cubans, Puertoricans,  Argentinians, Colombians, as well as Spaniards living in the USA, and they all use Spanish as their first language. What people also do not know is that most of these people come to North America with documents and to find a decent life and job, because their country doesn’t offer them many opportunities.
What most people do not know is that the USA was inhabited before the whites arrived from Europe, and that Native Americans are still living there, paying taxes (even if many say they do not and they have funds coming from the government!) and maintaining their cultures and languages. Some integrated in the society, others live in reserves and get photographed by a bunch of tourists who think they are part of a museum of American History.

This does not only happen in the United States of America, but in any other western country who is hosting millions of human beings coming from various countries of the world, whether they have been integrated in the local society or they have not.
What does matter, though, is not the fact that if someone is speaking their native tongue in front of others it means that this person is not a true citizen of the hosting country, nor this means they should go back to where they come from. There are millions of Italian, American, English, Canadian, Australian, German, Swedish, French citizens who speak a language which is not Italian, English, French, German or Swedish. Why would they have to speak to their family and friends back home in another language? Why would they have to deny their background just for moving somewhere else?

This does not mean they are forcing other countries to change their culture to make life easier for immigrants, as many conservative people say. Many people are annoyed at the “press 1 for English” thing, but they must understand that if they were the ones to live abroad and not speak the local language, they would be very pleased of having the option to speak and hear their own language in a country where it is not the official one.
In a globalized world like this one, knowing at least another language is a must, especially when it comes to find a well payed job in places where interacting with other people is fundamental; and immigrants are well encouraged to learn the language of the hosting country, otherwise they would not have the chance to work!

In conclusion, this language racism makes no sense at all, since everyone is free to speak Spanish, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Italian, French, Creole, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai or Mars language whenever they please, especially in their private sector, and with people speaking the same language. Everyone is pretty aware that if the language of the country they are living in is English, for example, they are well prepared to be able to speak that too, way better than many native English speakers! As many people would say, “mind your own business”, instead of making a fool of yourself like the person on the picture shown above, and learn to accept anyone who doesn’t come from your background!

 

– “Your car is German, your vodka is Russian, your pizza is Italian, your kebab is Turkish, your democracy is Greek, your coffee is Brazilian, your movies are American, your tea is Tamil, your shirt is Indian, your oil is Saudi Arabian, your electronics are Chinese, your numbers are Arabic, your letters are Latin… And you complain that your neighbor is an immigrant? 
Pull yourself together.”

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4 thoughts on “Language racism towards immigrants? No, thank you.

  1. I just found this after reading your comment on the Human Trafficking Coursera course. I encounter linguicism way too often in Kentucky (US) and I am glad to see you are raising awareness about this global issue!

    • I am glad you liked the article. I have been doing research about this for quite a while. It happens in Italy too, especially because of the big amount of immigrants we get every day. People think that if you don’t speak the predominant language you are an alien and you should be deported to your home country. What they don’t understand, especially in countries which have been made by immigrants, such as the US, Canada and Australia, that their ancestors experienced the same thing, with religious and language oppression, as well as ethnic persecution. I am reading a lot about this lately, since I am writing my Bachelor’s thesis about US immigration history, and it’s really interesting to find out what was happening back then, see what happens now, and compare! 🙂

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