MANSFIELD: English But Not Exclusively

There’s one area of concern that I tend to agree with conservatives/nationalists on: A single national language. This does not mean that I’m against Spanish or any other language being spoken in America; language keeps people connected to their culture, which is very important.

However, for foreign nationals that want to move to America, I believe they should know how to speak relatively fluent English. Of course, they would be free to speak whichever language they favor and are more comfortable with when at home or with friends that speaks, but they should be fluent enough in English to work in this country and obtain citizenship.

My reasoning is simple: The speaking of one language exclusively has caused friction in Montreal, Canada for years, and there is no end of it in sight. The same thing (only worse) is occurring in Belgium where the country is almost equally divided between French and Dutch speakers. The rancor is so deep-seated that the government has been brought down more than once over the language split. The obvious answer would be for the country to become bilingual.

Becoming officially bilingual is not the answer in the United States, however, even though we do have a larger influx of immigrants than either Montreal or Belgium. It’s a proven fact that those who come to America and then learn English as a second language fare far better financially and socially in the larger world.

Again, I’m not suggesting that anyone forgets the culture they were born into; I’m not advocating total assimilation. Indeed, I, along with millions of other blacks, feel cheated that we are not better connected to the lands of our ancestors. But if we allow pockets in this country where only a foreign language is spoken (and deemed acceptable) we could eventually begin to lose our identity as Americans and invite more conflict.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc

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