English-Only Policies By Martin Espada And Hunger Of Memory By Richard Rodriguez

721 Words3 Pages

About 400 unique non-English languages are spoken in the United States, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. Even after almost 450 years since the colonization of America by the British, controversially, an official language has yet to be named. According to Martin Espada, writer of “The New Bathroom Policy at English High School,” the ability to speak native languages in America is a right that should be respected and not infringed upon by English-only policies. Conversely, Richard Rodriguez, author of “Hunger of Memory,” claims that English-only policies are precisely what non-native speakers need to be successful. As Espada and Rodriguez both offer valuable perspectives on the role of language, I believe …show more content…

He asserts that the suppression and ignorance of non-English languages in America only causes hostility and discrimination against minority language speakers. Espada tells of an unfortunate case, “In Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1987, a Cambodian schoolboy was drowned by his white counterpart over degradation and bilingual education” (lines 158-161). If the installation of English-only policies further encourages ignorance towards non-English languages and leads to extreme violence, it should not continue to be considered as a viable option, as Espada highlights within his claim. Outside of his various interactions with individuals he has spoken to, Espada too has experienced blatant discrimination. While speaking with a politician about a bilingual education organization, a man approaches Espada. Reflexively, he acknowledges the man, responding, “‘Como Estas?’” (88). The man threatens to rip out Espada’s tongue for simply speaking to him in Spanish. Such sensitivity to others that differ from us, especially in today’s diverse America, only leads to disunity and anger within our …show more content…

Espada shares his enthusiasm towards fighting for Spanish, “Defending the right of all Latinos to [speak Spanish]... creates in me a passion towards Spanish itself,” (18-20). Alike Espada, I believe that language is a right, and speakers of non-English languages should have the freedom to speak in a comfortable environment. I also believe that such tolerance is a stride towards making America a better, more united place. Rodriguez suffers from the lack of accommodation for him to maintain his native language while also learning English. After the public language seeps into his own home, Rodriguez tells of how he was affected. He explains, “But the special feeling of closeness at home was diminished by then,” (123-125). I believe that success in America should not need to be prioritized over one's own culture, such as the loss Rodriguez

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