Monday, February 19, 2007

Real motivations behind 'English first' aren't pretty

By Dwight Lewis
Full article here

I had an interesting phone conversation Wednesday with Guadalupe (Wally) Rendon, a 2003 graduate of the Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University, which trains mostly people of color seeking a newsroom career.

He said there is a deeper motivation for people who push a law such as the one to make English the "official'' language here.

"For all these years, white people have been in control of most things in the United States,'' Wally said. "I grew up in Texas, not far from San Antonio, and the politicians were white, the sheriff was white, but now it's just the opposite.

"Some people are fearful of such changes, and they use the English only issue as a way of getting back at people, or to subside the trend of Hispanics moving ahead.''

It is true, Wally said, that many immigrants from around the world come to the United States not able to speak English but most of them attempt to learn. Unfortunately, he said, this does not happen overnight.

"Go to the places where they teach English as a second language, and you will see that most of them are full or have a waiting list,'' Wally told me. "These people have the will to learn it, but it's not going to happen overnight.''