Culture And Ethnic Identity Is Twin Skin To Colministic Identity
1592 Words7 Pages
When colonizers from England settled in Jamestown in 1607, they acted violently despite Native-Americans’ hospitality. Many refused to acknowledge the validity of existing cultures and languages, and forcefully instilled a common language amongst the inhabitants. This pattern of erasure has continued for centuries: although there is no legislation specifying a national language, people in the United States have pushed others to linguistically assimilate using cultural and societal pressures. This discrediting of linguistic integrity contradicts ideas about increased cultural diversity resulting from immigration. President John F. Kennedy, in his book A Nation of Immigrants, emphasizes that “each new wave…made its distinctive contribution to the American Character” (17). Yet, as Gloria Anzaldúa describes in “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” “ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity” (81). The “linguistic terrorism” (80) she experiences when institutions attempt to remove her Spanish dialects decreases her feelings of cultural and individual “legitimacy” (81). In many cases, this also leads to diminishing connections with culture. Some, like Anzaldúa, view this effect as forceful and a form of cultural terrorism.
Others, such as Maxine Hong Kingston, author of “A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe,” Richard Rodriguez, author of “Aria,” view the change with more passive resignation – after all, it is no individual’s responsibility to challenge centuries of erasure by