When US Born, non-Spanish speakers feel foreign in their own country…
By: María Alejandra Pulgar
@marialepulgar – NAHJ #37172
A Majority-Minority is defined as “a population in which more than half represent social, ethnic or racial minorities and in which fewer members of the more socially, politically or financially dominant group are represented”. In 2014 the US Census Bureau informed that 50.2 percent of the more than 20 million children living in the US were minorities.
If those tendencies continue, by 2060 minority population (ethnic groups other than white) will be over 56 percent. Definitely, the United States are changing as minorities slowly become majority. That fact is not an easy pill to swallow.
In Doral, minorities are already reversed. According to the US Census, 82% of the population is foreign-born, 90.9% speak other languages (80.6% speak Spanish) and out of the estimate 60,000+ residents, a mere 9.1% speak only English.
Although the United States does not have an official language for the country, English is the language broadly used for business and official matters. Several states, including Florida, have declared English as their official language, although many people speak other languages too. To thrive in this country it is fundamental to be proficient in the English language and that is something important for immigrants to embrace.
It is not rare to hear English speakers from Doral complain when requested to speak Spanish to receive a product or service in the city, because providers often do not speak any English. In Doral, non-Spanish speakers are a minority, which is not a comfortable position. Even if they have been born in the US, many feel foreign in their own country. It has even prompted some to move to other neighborhoods, where surroundings are more welcoming to non-Spanish speakers.
However, while some move-out, many more people move in and stay in Doral. Choosing other places in Miami-Dade County where Spanish is not openly spoken in businesses, households, and streets is not easy to find.
Miami is a city that has received over the years a constant influx of immigrants from Latin American countries, who have brought with them their culture and their language, making the Magic City the authentic melting pot it is now.
The same way New York, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, or Los Angeles evolved over the past two centuries, receiving immigrants from many other places of the world, Miami has grown to be a place where different cultures coexist and intertwine, giving the city its character and charm. Along with the weather and location, this makes Miami attractive as the starting point for those who want to pursue the American Dream.
The acculturation cycle
The acculturation process, or the cultural modification of a group of people to adapt to their new context, has been managed in different ways at different times in the United States. Policies, programs, and regulations were established by authorities to help immigrants learning the rules, the language, and the traditions of the country. It is a process that has evolved and continues to do so.
The fast influx of new residents in recent years, in the case of Doral, has made it difficult for the community to catch up with the acculturation of the changing population. It is a hard process for grownups and it has always happened in big cities and small neighborhoods as well.
Children are the population who adapt more quickly to the new culture because the school system has many programs that help them learn the language fast and adapt to the new culture and traditions. That is why, for example, second and third generation Cubans in Miami or many millennials that grew up in Doral in the early 2000s, speak more English than Spanish and like to live in the more urban areas of the city, where lifestyle is less traditional than in their parents’ households.
English speakers sometimes feel out of place in Doral and cannot stand the traffic, the noise, the behavior, the flamboyance, and excessive friendliness of their recently arrived neighbors. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a person who does not succumb to the attraction of this emerging city, with its new developments, blossoming economy, and its young, enthusiastic and hard-working population.
They have learned to drink cortaditos and eat arepas, croquetas or asado. And the newly arrived now celebrate Thanksgiving, eat turkey and pecan pie. It is an ongoing, mutual acculturation process that creates the city’s unique flair.
Courtesy, tolerance and education build community
Newly arrived many times come across as abusive because they step over the rules of privacy or trust in their interactions. Some even act as if it was their right to be addressed to in Spanish when actually it is a courtesy that they are receiving. Of those, the majority act that way out of lack of education and knowledge of the rules.
The right behavior should be to respond to that courtesy at least trying to interact in English and working diligently to become proficient, so they can have full access to all the benefits that the American culture has available. And always take into consideration that the main language of interaction in English, to ensure that everyone feels at home.
The community has to come together to provide the opportunities and push people to learn the language, rules, and traditions of this land of opportunity through education and enforcement. The mixing of races and cultures that happened in Latin America 500 years ago is happening now in the United States. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the process helps continue making this the thriving country the Founding Fathers envisioned.