April 28, 2020
New York City is a melting pot of thousands of people from many different cultures. When they immigrate to the United States in search of opportunities in her infamous city trying to take a bite of the Big Apple, they bring along various customs and languages with them. Unfortunately, not everyone can be appreciative of cultures that are different from their own living in the same city as them. article that I chose to read was one published by the New York Times by the name the title “Man Threatens Spanish-Speaking Workers: ‘My Next Call Will Be to ICE.’” This article written on May 18 of 2018 reports a racist and xenophobic encounter between a white customer and the Spanish speaking staff working at a restaurant called Fresh Kitchen. The article is complemented by a video of the whole incident. The video shows a white man yelling and berating the workers for speaking Spanish and criticizing the management for allowing such an encounter where the staff communicates with the customers in Spanish. He then continued on to remind them of their geographic location, emphasizing the ‘America’ as he yells “this is America.” He even went as far as to threaten to call ICE (the Immigration and Customs Enforcement) claiming that their lack of English diction mean that they must’ve been illegal and didn’t belong there and could be removed if he or any other xenophobic nativist with a phone pleased to do so. This video prompted responses from many angry viewers on social media platforms and even a statement condemning the man’s actions.
This video was just utterly disrespectful and hard to watch. The United States of America has a long history with its clouded sense of national identity, false sense of exceptionalism and history of mistreatment received by minorities, in this case Hispanics, from the majority group which are also known as white people.on major misconception held by xenophobes is the belief that English is the set and official language of this country, that is in fact false. The entire United States of America does not have an official language at the federal level. What the english language is actually the de facto language of this country, seeing as it is the language used mainly for communication. It works more like a lingua franca, it is not the arbitrary language of the land and therefore not the language that all its inhabitants should be able to speak in order to consider themselves to be American or determine their right to be here or not. Another issue is the outlook on immigration and the automatic association of Latin Americans as foreign and not . New York is what is known as a sanctuary state when it comes to immigration meaning that they are a bit more lax when it comes to their immigration policies and shouldn’t be as surprising considering the fact that a good percentage of its population and even as we see now, it’s essential workers are immigrants.
This view of English by the man of the video is similar to the second myth discussed in the book Language Myths by Bauer and Trudgill. The second myth of the book is entitled “Why are some languages not good enough?” This chapter is written by Ray Harlow and it speaks on the ways in which a language may be considered useful and based on the settings. The chapter even goes on to state that ”all languages are capable of expressing the same range of structural meanings.”
It doesn’t come much as a surprise that there was Spanish dialogue within the city setting. According to worldatlas.com, Spanish is the second most spoken language in New York. It in fact makes up 49 percent of the linguistic population. This huge population doesn’t go unrecognized. Usually official state governments are written both english and also in Spanish due to the vast majority of spanish speakers in the country. Businesses would even record and advertise their products and services they offered in spanish in hopes of appealing to the huge spanish speaking populating
This video reflects an attitude held by a scary amount of people. This view that English is superior to other languages is an unfair and unkind view. That vision is what deserves to be deported, not the innocent workers. However, this is unfortunately not a very uncommon outlook and attitude.