Ignorance of languages can exacerbate mistrust. The United States’–and many other countries’–history demonstrates oppression of language as a natural part of suppressing culture. This article demonstrates that indigenous languages continue to strike fear in the hearts of some non-indigenous Americans. Immigrant languages can cause the same problem. In the 90s I witnessed an altercation on a public bus between a working-class white guy who started yelling at a pair of working-class Latinos who were speaking Spanish. The white guy appealed to the driver: “You never know if they’re talking about you!”
That the ones in power feel threatened strikes me. Whites do not risk an “Indian uprising” or anything like that, and Latinos seem to adapt to white political structures. Nevertheless, the expression of thoughts in ways that whites cannot understand is a threat on its own. Perhaps an underlying mistrust is coming to the surface.
What do you think the solution is? My solution is to teach Spanish in the schools, from the first grade, alongside another community language, depending on the location–Menominee, Hmong, whatever. Creating a bi- or trilingual population will smooth over the mistrust. Finns decided to require Swedish language education for all the population because of its Swedish minority and proximity to Sweden. And the Finns’ educational system does well, as far as I know. I think Americans are capable of learning more languages–our indigenous and immigrants demonstrate this.
- Schoolgirl banned from playing basketball for speaking Native American language (promoteliberty.wordpress.com)
- CAMBODIA: Airwaves breathe new life into endangered ethnic languages (indigenousissuesinasia.wordpress.com)
- Lao PDR reports on elimination of racial discrimination (laospdrnews.wordpress.com)