Before you read this article, I’ll warn you that it is of a sensitive nature. I write it because it is near and dear to my heart and because I am filled with love and compassion for those that I write about. It’s important to read the entire article before you judge me or my opinion.
While driving home after morning errands, I noticed that the foundation for a new house in our neighborhood was being poured. I pulled onto the street where the work was being done thinking that my son and daughter, ages 5 and 2 respectively, would be thrilled to see the men at work and the machines involved in this crazy process. Two points for me! They loved it so much and had so many questions that we parked and got out to watch; and as a homeschool mom, I’m thinking this is a great learning opportunity. Then again, in the life of a homeschooler every moment is a learning opportunity, but I digress.
As we watched the concrete being poured and observed half a dozen men in long sleeves shirts, hats, and knee high rubber boots work the concrete, several things became very apparent: 1) These men were dripping with sweat since Texas summers can be brutal. 2) The work they did required much effort and skill. 3) Every man on the work site was Hispanic – a fact that my son was quick to point out given that he is ½ Mexican American and just learning about geography, a person’s origins, etc.
A couple of days later, my inquisitive son, who never forgets anything, asked, “Momma? How come all the men building the houses are Mexican?” It was a good question and a tough one to answer since broad sweeping stereotypes are not my favorite.
I started our conversation with the simple statement that probably many of the men were Spanish-speaking only; thus they were obligated to find work that would accommodate this fact. This statement spawned a host of questions since his father’s first language is Spanish; and we are constantly working to help our children be bilingual, English and Spanish. As the foundation of our conversation, I reminded our son that men who work hard and do so honestly to provide for their families are to be honored and respected regardless of their occupation.
I cannot say for sure whether these men were working construction because they wanted to (many individuals work construction because they love it and are good at it.); or forced to due to language and/or education limitations. Again, I hate broad sweeping stereotypes, but I will say this: those who choose not to learn English in America will always limit their financial opportunities. Hard working Spanish speakers in America will, for the most part, only be able to go so far with their careers. And, as a nation, we are glad to help them stay in poverty or at least not allow them to rise to the maximum level they are capable of.
From the groceries we buy to the ballots we print, from the interpreters we provide to the bilingual education we promote, from the bilingual bills we receive to the Spanish tax forms we use, we cry out to those who have come to America looking for a better life, “we’d prefer you remain in poverty than to learn our language”. America spends billions of dollars every year in order to accommodate Spanish speaking citizens to the degree that they don’t have to learn the language.
Why do we do that? Why don’t we make English the official language? We would drastically improve our economy by doing so. We’d immediately benefit from huge spending cuts at every level of government, plus we’d help to raise the economic status of a growing segment of our population.
So why don’t we make English our official language? The only thing I can figure is that liberals would prefer to keep people in poverty and in the wonderful programs they provide (tongue in cheek) and keep a large portion of their voting base intact and impoverished. It is a practice that breaks my heart and is quite shameful in my opinion.
To the powers that be that are looking to get us out of this economic crisis, at least do something by making English the official language, even if it is a drop in the bucket budget wise. To those who have come to America in search of a better life for you and your family, do whatever it takes to learn the language proficiently. You will only broaden your ability to do whatever you want, whether that is digging ditches or performing brain surgery. You will never regret it.