Friday Feedback: Breaking Silence on New Face of Employment Discrimination

friday feedbackEach Friday, LA Progressive presents a comment we editors find to be most profound, insightful, unusual, or even annoying– we then highlight the comment in an effort to bring attention to the broad range of positions taken by our readers. This week, a reader named David commented on Jasmyne Cannick’s article, “Breaking Silence on New Face of Employment Discrimination“.

Odd that this post was published by a progressive and presumably enlightened site catering to an educated audience. There are so many ignorant statements in this article that I can only assume no one bothered to read it prior to posting. I will point out only one major flaw. Cannick assumes that African-Americans came well before Latinos and that, therefore, valuing bilingualism in order to better serve the latter is an affront and unfair to the former. But do you realize, Ms. Cannick, that California was a Spanish colony well before Anglos and African Americans arrived? That Spanish was the “official” language well before English displaced it? That the names California and Los Angeles themselves are evidence of Spanish primacy? I’ll stop there. But, wow.


  1. MdeG says

    Wow. This raises a whole bunch of interesting questions.

    Yes, it helps us as a nation to have a common public language. Over-simplification of this point for much of the US’s history has had us saying “English only” to new arrivals, from all over the world. We’ve lost great cultural riches as a result. Perhaps linguistically diverse groups — not only Africans, but the East European immigrants from my home town in the midwest — have been most easily stripped of language.

    We’ve developed an education system that doesn’t value language skills adequately. Monolingualism is not a postive virtue, nor a test of loyalty. Good foreign languge instruction is hard to come by even in relatively good public school systems. And many communities of color suffer from underfunded, understaffed, and generally inadequate schools. Not their fault. Yes, it needs to get better. And no, alas, that kindly-meant sentiment doesn’t remedy the past, I know.

    So where does “Spanish too” come in? A big group of people, some of whom really do have deep roots in what’s now the US, is part of the answer. Spanish is the official language of 34 countries, many of which send migrants here. So why don’t they all learn English? I think most want to. It’s not easy when you’re culturally isolated, working double shifts, when your schedule’ and paycheck are unpredictable, when your town ESOL program has a two-year waiting list and the community college won’t let you sign up because you don’t have a green card, etc. etc.

    Some but not all migrants come from disadvantage at home — one thing that’s not immediately obvious to folks who don’t know Spanish is that many are not actually native Spanish speakers, but speak Spanish in addition to an indigenous language. They’ve got a pretty steep hill to climb, having faced severe discrimination and poor access to education in their countries of origin. David Bacon does a lot of good writing about some of these communities, much of it on truthout.

    I’d like to hope that we’re evolving toward more understanding and mutual appreciation of our many cultural roots.Some of that has clearly got to include making sure that migrants, who have their own histories of discrimination, understand and respect the role of African Americans in the history and culture of the US.

    This doesn’t solve anything, I know. I guess I wish there were a way for working folks to understand and appreciate each other’s struggles, rather than being set against each other. It makes me sad.

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