Your English-Only Mentality Is Damaging, So Please Stop

Your English-Only Mentality Is Damaging, So Please Stop

I'm #SorryNotSorry that you have to press one for English.

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"This is America! Speak English!"

From confrontational rants that go viral to movements to implement actual linguistic policy, a lot of my fellow Americans share this sentiment. Here's some reasons why I think English-only is so damaging.

1. Accessibility to services in different languages is an actual public health and safety concern.

In emergency situations, it's important that everyone knows what's going on. When I was studying abroad in Argentina, I came down with a gastrointestinal bug, which triggered vomiting and diarrhea. My host mom drove me to the local doctor. Now, I'm a Spanish major, and I was comfortable enough in my language skills to answer the doctor's questions. The doctor gave me an injection and she told me it would help stop the diarrhea. My host mom told me she had gotten it before, too, so that was good enough for me.

When I messaged my mom later about the situation, she told me I should've asked what was in that shot. I replied I didn't know how I could do that, or how I would even understand the explanation. Luckily, I got better quickly and didn't have to go to the hospital. What I want you to take from my anecdote is the following: Even though I spoke a decent amount of Spanish, I was not fully equipped to handle a health-related situation on my own. If I had had a more serious condition, or would've had to go to the hospital, I would have definitely needed an interpreter. The fear in these kinds of situations is already present; the fear that you won't even be to communicate important information doesn't need to be added.

2. Language is often a part of someone’s cultural identity.

We Americans who are native English speakers often take it for granted that English is widely spoken, even in other parts of the world. Thus, we don't necessarily "have to" learn another language, even if we travel. However, it is unfair to expect others to conform to our own language and culture for our own personal comfort, even if they are visiting or residing in our country. Yes, I agree that if that if someone wants to live and/or work in another country, it is in their best interest to learn the common language.

However, immigrants to the US already know it is to their social, professional, economic, etc. advantage to become proficient in English. Learning another language takes time, and our native language is still special to us. Language might make us feel closer to our family, our roots, our history, our religion and so on. Why would a person just "stop" using their native language upon learning another one?

3. How we view bilingualism is also tied to how we view race and class.

"Real" bilinguals do not necessarily 1. have equal and perfect knowledge of their languages, 2. speak with "no accent" or 3. have a bicultural identity.

Imagine an upper-middle class white family sending their daughter to France for the summer. The fact that she can utter some pretty-sounding sentence is, like, so cool, right? She's so cultured! Now imagine a working-class brown immigrant. His sometimes hesitant, "broken" English is not viewed in the same light, is it?

4. And finally, you aren’t always a part of the conversation.

U.S. lawyer Aaron Schlossberg yelling at Spanish-speaking employees.

Sure, if you're hanging around people who are all speaking a language that you don't and are basically ignoring you, it makes sense that you might feel excluded or that you're missing out on something. However, if two strangers in front of you are conversing about the weather in Swahili, why do you care? You aren't automatically entitled to know the content of other people's conversations. Even if you know a person and use English with them, they are fully within their right to use a different language with someone else, even if you happen to be nearby.

This is America, where we speak lots of different languages. So please, stop yelling because two people were speaking Spanish at the grocery store.

Cover Image Credit:

Wikimedia Commons

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A Powerful Look At "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid

The author tackles deeper issues in her moving piece.
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Jamaica Kincaid is one of the prevalent writers of the twentieth/twenty-first century. Well known for tackling the subjects of racism, class, gender and how they are exploited, and culture and conveying them to a wide audience in a book. Her most remembered work is a prose-poetry called Girl, a child following the instruction of a sharp-tongued mother teaching her how to become a woman, in contrast, what it is like for a woman growing up in Antigua. Most importantly, how the theme of morality encompasses the detrimental measures of gender roles imposed upon young girls breaking into womanhood.

The Antiguan mother is immediately introduced into the story to establish her directions for morality in her daughters every decision. Seeing how she is narrating the setting by giving her daughter cisgender instruction on how to behave like a lady in public and in the private setting of her home. For example, differentiating clothes to wash by color and day, covering her head when it is sunny, soaking salt fish overnight, staying away from the homeless boys who she refers to as wharf-rats, how to smile, how to plant and so much more (Kincaid). Meanwhile, she is referring to her daughter as a “slut” as she is giving these instructions, even though, there is no sign of the daughter promiscuity, let alone her even realizing her sexuality.

Moving onto the daughter, here she carefully listens to her mothers’ forewarning on what she needs to do as a woman. Her mother, as I mentioned before, harshly instructs that when she buys cotton make sure it does not have gum on it, how to iron her fathers’ khaki shirt and pants so they would not have creases in them, how to sweep the yard and the house, sew, how to eat your food that is not appalling, not to squat and stop playing games that is associated with boys, not to pick other people's flowers, how to make pepper pot, how to wash up, grow okra etc. (Kincaid) It is any wonder if she was able to processes all these directions, something tells me not so. Afterwards, her mother says “squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh” only to reply what if the baker does not let me, showing signs of her immaturity of how sexuality is used in womanhood.

So it is pretty evident that this short-story took place in the twentieth century, it is only assumed that the setting is stationed in St. John's, Antigua. This happens to be Elaine Potter Richardson (Jamaica Kincaid’s real name) homeland before immigrating to America at the age of seventeen. Looking into Jamaica Kincaid's history she did not have a good relationship with her mother by the age of nine when she became a big sister to three younger siblings.

Until this day, Jamaica Kincaid has not given exclusive details on how she felt betrayed by her mother, however, she did say this on BBC "I don't know if having other children was the cause for our relationship changing—it might have changed as I entered adolescence, but her attention went elsewhere. But then I got more of things I didn't have, like a certain kind of cruelty and neglect." The parallels of her earlier life and the story Girl contrast each other heavily that it cannot be denied, especially not playing into the gender roles of her country as she got older.

Antigua itself has become a symbol of oppression for encompassing the western culture forced upon the British government, and the people who were brought against their will or natives of the land stripped away of their culture. In return, they repress each other by mimicking a custom that was not originally theirs, and set ground rules for the community to follow for day to day life. Women are still expected to follow the ‘norms’ of their position in the community. Even now it would seem as though nothing has changed for the progression of women in Antigua. UN Women have reported a high percentage of women in the state of poverty especially the ones who are disabled. If any woman is a subjected to abuse at the hands of any man, her going to the authorities would be in vain with the case being seen as a hindrance. Again, the damaging treatment of women has a long way before it prevails:

As social being who need support from each other, and knowing that achievements made in life are not based on individual efforts, the cry from women to have the support of other women in society is a cry for help and if attended to will foster an environment of growth, where one can flourish to their fullest potential. Assertive women felt shunned by other women who sometimes perceive them to be masculine while vulnerable women felt there was an absence of safe spaces for them to share, vent and get support to continue their journey. (UN Women: Antigua and Barbuda National Review, p.14)

Going back to the story, the mother teaches her daughter how she will be perceived in the eyes of her peers. So, what will happen if she does not? Being ostracized by one's culture is a heavy effect, but why do women submit to these abuses? More importantly, why do women tear each other down? According to Rosjke Hasseldine, an educator of women studies came to the conclusion that women tear each other down because women are internally misogynistic. Girls are taught by our mothers who were taught by their grandmothers and so forth what acceptable way of a woman is. To ignore it one would, again, risk being labeled as a ‘bad’ woman. She then says “internalising the language and beliefs of patriarchy was an economic necessity. After all, you cannot burn thousands and thousands of women as witches without it having an effect on women for generations after. It creates a ripple effect that invokes fear around being your own person.”

Next is the discussion of benna music and why the mother forbids her daughter from listening to it. Following the nineteen sixties, benna was taking a new height amongst the public and drifting somewhat away from its conservative values. It was the polar opposite of being a call-and-response type of music seeing how it featured the subject of gossip, sex, violence and raunchy words. Being that this was the decade of redefining the subject sex and how it played its part in society it did not sit well with most, and one would think it would not to sit well with women either.

Music artist in this genre write derogatory things about women, making objectifying remarks about their bodies and place emphases on abuse. So why is it symbolic? Years after being ‘told’ what to do by your community someone is bound to rebel against effects of sexual repression, in this case, it was done through music which is presently popular in carnival fairs in the West Indies. The mother put a stop to this not because it was slut-shaming but was not seen appropriate for a woman to listen to music of that nature.

The first line in the story of Girl reads “wash the white clothes” the mother then scolds her daughter for singing benna at Sunday school. Antigua has been a Christian state since it has been colonized, and one of Christianities symbolic features is the color white. Michael R. Morris, a writer for LDS, and Henry Dreyfus a Japanese artist both stated that the color represents cleanliness and purity, which is contradicting because throughout this whole piece the mother is verbally abusing her daughter into following these unwritten rules of womanhood. How can she be seen as holy if she is a slut so to speak? The daughter clearly has no understanding of the sexual undertones her mother refers to, or as to why she has to do things a certain way nearly because the mother says so. Ignorant, yes but is she that sinful in the eyes of her mom or did the mother see a mirroring reflection of her daughter?

Lastly is the symbolism of the bread mentioned in this story when the mother says “always squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh.” Anyone who is not reading the prose critically would assume that she is referring to her daughter knowing how to make bread. Wrong. Another contradictory on behalf of the mother and her ‘morals’ is that bread in the Christian faith is supposed to symbolize the body of Christ, him dying for the sins of others yet in this context ‘bread’ is being used as a sexual undertone.

Although the mothers approach could be seen as bullying, she is preparing her daughter not only for wifely duties but to look appealing for the opposite sex, grooming her if you well. Because when her daughter naively asks if the baker would let her feel her mother replies “after all you are really going to be the kind of women who the baker won’t let near the bread?” It is pretty clear of the intentions the mother has for her child. So the intent on the mothers tactic is for her daughter to be a proper lady not only through her eyes but amongst the peers as well, and a future husband.

Reading the story the first was comical, but analyzing it broadens the perspective of reading this piece. Teaching young girls that it is okay to bow down to patriarchy by shaming her into following these rules of hypocrisy is pure insanity. Telling girls through the media what is considered beautiful, what will get the boys attention, and what not to do or else you will be called a slut or a bitch for being out-spoken. This is why we need feminism so it can teach our girls to love themselves and not fall victim to the oppression or our peers.

Cover Image Credit: Keturah Ariel

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10 La Croix Flavors The World Needs

If your favorite flavor is Pure, you're wrong.

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While La Croix has produced many, many, flavors, there's still a variety that we La Croix lovers are still waiting for. On top of this, there are also a lot of flavors that are hated (even despised) by many. While my personal favorite is Blackberry & Cucumber (preferably with a splash of vodka), many find the combination weird. I'm here to list a few new flavors that La Croix needs to highly consider.

1. Honeydew & Cantaloupe

I have a confession... I love honeydew. I know, this is a controversial opinion, but I honestly love the green melon that everyone just considers to be just a filler for fruit salad. Paired with the flavor of cantaloupe, I highly believe that the combination combined with the fizz of a delicious La Croix could be revolutionary. Just think about it until you start giving me hate.

2. Grape

I'm honestly shocked that this still isn't a thing, but everyone really is waiting for a grape-flavored La Croix. For any grape soda lovers, this could easily be a healthier alternative, and as La Croix is known for their natural flavors, this can be a nice step away from the traditional, artificial grape flavor. Just imagine the flavor of some delicious green grapes canned into a fizzy La Croix.

3. Prickly Pear

I know this sounds like a weird one, and some of you may have never even heard of it, but some know the deliciousness of the prickly pear. Growing on cactuses, prickly pears offer a mild flavor, somewhat similar to that of pears and apples. Again, this might sound weird to some, but it's clear that La Croix isn't afraid of offering out-of-the-box flavors. They offer other ones like Blackberry & Cucumber, Apricot, and one of the newest additions, a Cola flavor.

4. Guava

To me, a guava-flavored La Croix doesn't really seem like much of a stretch. I really think that it goes along with the quite random variety of flavors La Croix offers, and guava juice is actually a popular drink. You can buy guava juice in cans, so who's to say that the flavor can't be incorporated into some bubbles and have "La Croix" slapped on the cans.

5. Fig & Honey

Figs and honey are a traditional pairing and also one that could flood its way into La Croix-loving millennial hearts. Figs have a fairly mild taste, often actually being compared to honey. The two go hand-in-hand and once again, going right along with the unique variety of flavors that La Croix currently has. I will say that I don't know exactly how this one would be received right off the bat, but there will definitely be those that will enjoy it, just like those weirdos who like Pure and Coconut.

6. Pumpkin

OK, I'll admit that I'm not so sure about this one, but I can easily see La Croix doing some sort of seasonal, fall limited-edition type campaign here. Just like the Pumpkin Spice Latte and pumpkin flavored beers, there are some that love them and some that hate them. I'm not sure if La Croix would go full pumpkin spice with this one, because honestly the thought of drinking fizzy cinnamon kind of makes me queasy, but pumpkin by itself could be leading to something.

7. Strawberry & Rhubarb 

Anyone who has had the pleasure of enjoying a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie knows how perfect the combination is. The sweet flavor of the strawberries paired with the tart rhubarb is delicious and something I could definitely see La Croix diving into. Though rhubarb isn't a citrus, the sour and pungent flavor definitely resembles it. Offering flavors like lime, lemon, orange, and more, we know that La Croix is a big fan of these more sour flavors.

8. Green Tea

I know this one strays from La Croix's typical fruit flavors, but I still think it makes sense. Matcha and green tea are definitely on trend right now, and I'd be very interested to see how La Croix would put their twist on it. Everyone loves a good can of Arizona Green Tea, but I'm definitely down to try a less sweet and carbonated version.

9. Taro

Again, I realize that this seems a little strange and, once again, veers from the typical La Croix flavor profiles, but I still see it working out. Taro is actually a root vegetable, however it is a featured flavor on many bubble tea menus. It's described as having a "sweet, nutty flavor", which is something that I don't think sounds completely out-of-the-box for La Croix. It'd definitely be interesting and something I'd be curious to try.

10. Spiked

I'm not gonna lie here, this entire list was pretty much just for me to have a reason to talk about my biggest wish for La Croix: Spiked La Croix. Spiked Sparkling Seltzer is really up-and-coming right now, with brands like White Claw, Truly, Spiked Seltzer, and even Smirnoff hopping into the game, so I really don't think it would be that much of a push for La Croix to release their own take on it. Let's be honest, we all are prone to throw some vodka in it now and then, so why not just make it easier on us and just do it for us, La Croix?! Taking some of the flavors they already offer and giving them an alcoholic twist would be loved by La Croix fans, college students, and housewives alike. Can you just imagine the possibilities?!

I really believe that some of these could be strong contenders for La Croix to take up and make their own. So, La Croix, if ya need some help developing, please free to hit me up... Anyways, what're some of your hopes for La Croix flavors? Let us know in the comments!

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