America: Land of Change
America the Promise land, America the Melting Pot, America the land of the free; America was built around the idea of providing a place for freedom from tyranny, freedom from oppression, freedom to expand and explore and prosper. It was first colonized by people not of this land and so began a pattern in human history, a pattern that has sparked a wide and controversial debate around the concept of immigration. Who to let in? How many to accept? From where should they come? What rights may they have once they’re here? What language should they speak? What jobs can they have? These are just a few of the unending questions on immigration asked throughout our history and into our today. No matter the debates occurring around us, immigrates started knocking many, many years ago and for centuries, men, women and children have flooded this country seeking asylum, seeking new beginnings, seeking hope for a better tomorrow, seeking opportunities to provide for family members. These folks may come from many different countries, may be driven by different forces, but they all come with hope. Upon arrival into this glorious and prosperous land, immigrants are asked to forget their language, shed their cultures and traditions, and change the way they talk, look, dress, and think. Their identities are wiped clean and with this purification comes the annihilation of the beauty, history, diversity and vastness of this world. One-way assimilation, the melting pot and forced conformity all succeed in making this world very small and in turn destroying ancient traditions, languages and cultures. As a result of these limiting conceptions that immigrants must give up their language and renounce their own cultures, immigrants have built private, isolated societies based on ethnicity in order to preserve their cultural identities leading only to outlying, disconnected and insulated groups and causing resentments, prejudice and a recognition of differences instead of a search for similarities. Language is so crucial to and indicative of the identity of every ethnicity in existence and with the removal of said language, a very core component of identity is lost. From proper speech to casual slang, communities, cultures and individuals are brought together through dialect; brought together and strengthened with the ancient lines of their respective histories. Therefore, as immigrants “were forbidden to speak their own language”( George M. Fredrickson, “Models of American Ethnic Relations: A Historical Perspective,”:P.5), a loss of self, a silenced voice and a withdrawal from the formerly safe and protective home front began to occur. In a selection by Richard Rodriguez entitled Public and Private Language, it is the latter problem which occurs, for as the “children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents, I no longer knew what words to use in addressing my parents.” ( Richard Rodriguez, “Public and Private Language,” P.4) In representing his fellow Hispanics the author admits at the end, that by assimilating into the English speaking culture of America, Hispanics “suffer a diminished sense of private individuality” ( Richard Rodriguez, “Public and Private Language,” P.6) and in turn lose the close connection at home of family togetherness. Rachel Jones in What’s Wrong With Black English, takes this concept of being forced to leave behind one’s identifying language one step further by expressing an openly hostile attitude towards the African American English. She points out that “it hurts me to hear black children use black English, knowing that they will be at yet another disadvantage.”( Rachel Jones, “What’s Wrong With Black English,” P.3) She uses words such as “hurts” and “disadvantage” in talking about the dialect of her own culture, implying disdain, shame and anger towards the implications of black English,...
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