Let’s take a moment to talk about diversity.
The United States is a very diverse country, and was founded that way. Europeans traveled across the ocean to start a new life in a budding land that was to become the U.S.A. Though the Washington Post in this article shows how African countries are the most diverse, the U.S. is still high on the charts.
Hardly anyone would tell you, “I am opposed to diversity in this country.” But many of those people believe this, and it’s sickening.
We’ll start with language.
I have had countless conversations with people who are completely unwilling to learn Spanish (though it will soon become a second language) because “this is America: everyone should speak English.” And, yes, while English is the primary language here, we are home to many many people who speak that language as a second language.
I lived in Paris for six months. While I spent every moment speaking French with the locals and with other international students, trying to really become fluent in this gorgeous language, many locals spoke at least basic English and were capable of communicating with tourists or foreigners who struggled with French.
Many people would argue, “Well, English is an international language.”
It certainly is. But what if it wasn’t? What if we spoke a language that was spoken by a much smaller group of people? When we moved abroad, wouldn’t it be nice if someone helped us out every now and then by speaking our own language?
So why are we so against learning basic Spanish? Or any second language, for that matter? Does “diversity in America” require that every diverse person speak English fluently?
Now let’s go a bit further.
Say our diversity means that an Indian woman has parents born in India who moved here to start a new life and had a child here, in California, for example. She is an American citizen, grew up in this country and has immersed herself in American culture growing up. What makes her diverse is that she also has another culture—the Indian culture—but that doesn’t in the least make her not American. In fact, it may make her more American, because we’re a “melting pot,” right?
This Buzzfeed post outlines all of the outrage from American citizens about another American citizen winning Miss America. It’s the most appalling thing I’ve seen in ages. For some strange reason, people have decided that being American means that you must fit certain criteria, and your ONLY culture must be the American one. These same people, who may or may not have been proud of our diverse country in the past, have decided that diversity is horrible. Miss New York, an Indian-American woman, is called many things: an Arab, a foreigner, Miss Al Qaeda, a terrorist and even Miss 7-11. The hateful comments make me absolutely appalled.
We have moved from celebrating and embracing diversity to only bragging about it and then truly not believing in it. We need to redefine what “being American” means in our minds to what it is supposed to mean–a celebration of people from every corner of the world.