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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As A Victim Of Sexual Abuse, Painting '#MeToo' On A WWII Statue Is Taking The Movement TOO Far

There is a line you should never cross and that is it.

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The famous picture of the sailor kissing a woman was taken right on V-J Day, when Japan surrendered to the U.S. in World War II. For decades it was seen as a representation of how excited and relieved everyone was at the end of the war.

The picture touched the hearts of thousands as you could feel the overwhelming amounts of joy that came from the snap of the camera. While the woman in the picture died back in 2016 due to a struggle with pneumonia, the sailor just recently died on Feb. 17, 2019 at the age of 95.

Most people saw it as both a heartbreak and heartwarming that the couple that was once photographed were now together.

Other people saw differently.

There is a statue made of the picture that resides in Sarasota, Florida. Police found early Tuesday morning of Feb. 19, two days after the sailor's death, that someone had spray-painted #MeToo on the statue's leg in bright red.

As a woman, I strongly encourage those who have been sexually assaulted/abused in any way shape or form, to voice themselves in the best way they can. To have the opportunity to voice what they went through without being afraid. As a woman who has also been a victim of sexual assault and has been quiet for many years...

This act of vandalism makes me sick.

While the woman that was kissed by the sailor was purely kissed on impulse, she had stated in an interview with 'The New York Times' that, "It wasn't a romantic event. It was just an event of 'thank God the war is over.'"

People were celebrating and, as a sailor, that man was so over the moon about the war being over that he found the nearest woman to celebrate with.

While I don't condone that situation, I understand both the reason behind it as well as the meaning behind the photo. I understand that, while it wasn't an intended kiss, it was a way of showcasing relief. To stick #MeToo on a statue of a representation of freedom is not the right way to bring awareness of sexual abuse.

It gives those the wrong idea of why the #MeToo movement was started. It started as a way for victims of sexual abuse to share their stories. To share with the world that they are not alone.

It helped me realize I wasn't alone.

But the movement, soon after it started, became a fad that turned wrong. People were using it in the wrong context and started using it negatively instead of as an outlet for women and men to share their horrific experiences of sexual assault.

That statue has been up for years. To wait until the sailor passed away was not only rude but entirely disrespectful. The family of that sailor is currently in mourning. On top of it, it's taking away from the meaning behind the photo/statue. World War II was one of the darkest, scariest events in — not just our American history — but the world's as well.

Sexual abuse is a touchy matter, I encourage everyone to stand up for what's right. But to vandalize a statue of one of the most relieving days in America's history is an act that was unnecessary and doesn't get the point of #MeToo across in the way it should. If anything, it's giving people a reason not to listen. To protest and bring attention to something, you want to gather the right attention.

This was not gathering the right attention.

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Excellent Advice From Unexpected Places

Who thought aliens from a silly space app could give good advice. Welcome to Walkr.

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GI recently got a pedometer app (a step tracker) called Walkr: Fitness Space Adventure. Along with tracking your steps, it unlocks planets that have little alien inhabitants. These creatures send you messages occasionally, some silly, some helpful, and everything in between. I thought I would share with you my favorites thus far. Here are my top 15 inspirational messages from aliens:

1. When you are doubting yourself...

Maddy McKeever

Zombies love you for who you are, no matter what.

2. Take care of those you love...

Maddy McKeever

No one deserves to be sad. Especially the moon who is the light of your night.

3. I love eating...

Maddy McKeever

Envy is a deadly sin, but ice cream is not. Snowmen know sometimes you need a snack.

4. There are no shortcuts in life...

Maddy McKeever

Shortcuts in life leave you shorthanded and unprepared. Be the diamond in the rough, or the pearl.

5. Eat your vegetables...

Maddy McKeever

Take care of your body and it will take care of you. And avoid space pirates.

6. Take time to take care of yourself...

Maddy McKeever

Little things for self care can make a big difference. Musical Andrew reminds you to eat and drink lots of water.

7. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes...

Maddy McKeever

Walking help you clear your head, and gives you a reason to get out of the house if you don't have a dog that wants to go to the park.

8. Where words fail, music speaks...

Maddy McKeever

Bon Jovi probably liked space. Express yourself with music, or tune out the world to take care of yourself.

9. Don't trust strangers...

Maddy McKeever

Don't take food from strangers unless it's Halloween. And don't follow them into the woods, even if they are trees.

10. School is a necessary evil...

Maddy McKeever

School may seem like torture now, but you'll be grateful you did it when you are older, even if you want to set your work on fire right now.

11. Never stop believing...

Maddy McKeever

Keep hope and imagination in your heart and you will feel young forever.

12. Sometimes it's about the journey, not the destination...

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It's not always about progress, but about the process, even if the idea of success tastes sweet.

13. Success is relative to each of us...

Maddy McKeever

Your idea of being courageous may not be the same as someone else's, but that doesn't make their any less valid a success.

14. Don't let others hold you back...

Maddy McKeever

We all want to escape to a different continent, or even a different planet sometimes. Take a moment and breathe. You've got this.

15. Don't judge a book by it's cover...

Maddy McKeever

Some people that look odd on the outside may be diamonds in the rough. But don't forget also that some people who look harmless can secretly bite.

Some of this advice may seem silly, but rooted deep in it can be found inspirational advice. You may not see it now, but when you need to hear it, that advice becomes very clear. Who knew that a ball of ghost fire or a sugar cube could give such good advice? I hope at least one of these little aliens gave you some useful inspiration today.

For other enjoyable apps to stay healthy, including Walkr, see this article.

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