Marissa Providence Minnesota

Linguistic Discrimination

How people are discriminated for speaking their native language and how it impacts not only the individual but the rest of society.

Dear Next President,

Lately in the news there has been a barrage of discriminatory language that has been targeting various ethnic groups. In order for us to become a harmonious culture we need address these issues. Discrimination against others who speak their native language/tongue other than English can be harmful to the individual and the rest of society. Linguistic discrimination happens in a variety of places such as a workplaces and schools. This letter is to inform you about the seriousness of this problem and to encourage action on your part.

The most common place that linguistic discrimination occurs is at school. According to Jeanie Carnock, “The first year of a child’s education is one of the most important time. However, many young children of immigrants face discrimination in school.” Young children of immigrants are known to face discrimination at the personal level from staff and peers at school. Many students reported being called derogatory names by their peers and teachers.

An example of language discrimination occurred in Tuscon, Arizona where a young girl was physically slapped by her principal for speaking Spanish in school. Now in her eighties she is still emotionally scarred by that heart wrenching memory of her past. Coming from a non-English speaking home can take a major-toll on some students, as some teachers view this as a barrier in passing tests such as the MCA in school. Until recently, being an immigrant in school can result in criticism for their accent or language spoken at home. According to Jennifer Keys (2015), “Students who are discriminated against can hurt the child emotionally which can eventually affect their performances in school.” This can result in the child developing low-self esteem making them to be more likely to drop out of school.

The workplace is another area in which language discrimination occurs. According to Workplace Fairness and Language Discrimination Article (2015), regardless of a person’s nationality or ethnicity they're entitled to the same employment opportunities. Meaning that no matter what a person may look like or what language they may speak they have the same rights to be hired for a job in which they’re qualified to carry out. The complaints of language discrimination during work has risen from 1997 to 2011 by 76 percent (Insurance Journal 2012). Due to this it causes more people to become bilingual in order to communicate with their co-workers.

Lastly, there are ways to end language discrimination especially in a workplace. Language discrimination can be addressed. When dealing with a non English-speaking employee in a working environment according to "How to Overcome Language Barriers and Cultural Barriers in a Workplace" (2015), using an interpreter will make it easier to provide feedback to employees who have difficulty communicating in English. This will help make working go a lot more smoothly for all the employees and it will prevent any incidents concerning the discrimination of language. When working make sure the employees are aware and informed of the non-discriminatory rule. It will help immensely with not only avoiding discrimination of any kind but, it will also make sure that the working atmosphere is more welcoming for customers.

Recently, on CNN there was a story broadcasted about how a Somali woman was assaulted for speaking her native language. In Minnesota at Applebee's a Somali lady was assaulted with a beer bottle by a white woman because she wasn't speaking English. The story began with Jama Asma who was walking with her family as Jodie Burchard-Risch and her husband were leaving the restaurant when Jama’s family was speaking in Somali while passing them. Jodie went and told the young woman that “When you're in America you should speak English.” Jodie had also told her family and her that they should leave and go back home. Jama had protested against the older lady saying that she has the freedom to speak her language. Saying this made Jodie Burchard-Risch very infuriated causing her to smash the Somali woman with a beer bottle busting her lip. Jama was left with a giant gruesome scar on her lip. She was violently assaulted just for speaking her native language with her family. This is probably one of the most heartbreaking stories I've heard this year on the news.

Language discrimination needs to be dealt with otherwise it will hurt not only immigrants but our society as well too. I believe that everyone should have the freedom to speak their own language no matter what it might be despite their appearance or ethnicity background.


Marissa Providence Watkins

10th grade

Central Senior High

St. Paul Central High School

Approaching Analysis - Hours 2 and 3

This is a sophomore honors class at St. Paul Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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