Land of the Free

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America. Land of the free, home of the brave. “The Melting Pot”. A place of freedom from oppression and cruelty. These are characteristics previously used to describe the great country of America. But now ask any poor, colored American and they will reply with cynicism toward this country and its people.
They are its people though. They are American, because American is not a skin color, it is a nationality, and one that comes with great honor and pride. American is not a language either, but lately that has been argued.
As I walk around the mall with my elderly grandmother I hear chattering in many different languages such as Mexican or Chinese. “I wish those kinds of people would get out of here or at least learn some English,” she’ll mutter (a bit more cruelly) under her breath. I’ll sigh. I’ve had this argument before.
Since the age of five I have heard these types of things from my family and I have always thought them wrong, but every time I stand up for my fellow American I get shot down by my own family, who does not want to hear my opinion or what I have to say or even care about the pain it gives me when I hear things like that.
It does not make sense to me. It does not click in my mind. Why, if America was made for those tired of subjection and despair, do other Americans continue to bring this to them with the “English-Only Movement”?
Imagine this. You are a young, poor, confused man or woman just stepping off a plane from a far off land. In this new land you do not speak their language, you have no where to live, and you have no job. There is nothing and no one to help you get started living in this new land. This is reality for many immigrants coming to this country for a new life full of new opportunities and “the American Dream”.
I don’t know about you, but if I were in that situation, the first thing I would worry about would be getting a job so I can afford a place to live. This is hard for someone who can’t speak English, but not impossible. Learning English costs money though, which is why it is easier to pick up bits and pieces as you work until you finally have enough money to afford a nice place to live, and are able to find a new job with your new found skills of language.
So when you are on your leisure time, and speaking with someone in your language, do you find it right to be yelled at because that is not what the majority speaks? I believe that not knowing English is perfectly fine in America, as we have no official national language; however in certain places it is important to have someone who can speak fluent English like restaurant workers who interact with customers. It is all about compromise, let people live. As Vincent de Gournay said, “Laissez faire,” or, “Let the people do what they want.” Is that not what this country was built for anyways?





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