Friday, August 12

Multiculturalism: Lessons for Latinos from London

The misunderstanding of what is multiculturalism is becoming a growing problem, both economically and culturally. Allow me to explain.

I started thinking about this when I read the quote by Tony Blair on the problems they have faced with homeland terrorism in London. He says:
You can have your own religion and your own culture but still feel integrated into the mainstream of a community....when you've got people who may be here sometimes 20 years or more and who still don't speak English, that worries me because there's a separateness there that may be unhealthy.
Here is the important lesson for Latinos. We need to stay faithful to our value and faith, but it is imperative that all immigrants seek to integrate into the mainstream community. I do believe this must start with learning the language. Immigrant children should, first and foremost, learn English. Blair's quote is worth repeating again:
...when you've got people who may be here sometimes 20 years or more and who still don't speak English, that worries me because there's a separateness there that may be unhealthy.
I am not saying to abandon our native language, but to make sure to learn English. It's unhealthy to the culture at large, and it is economically impoverishing, both to the society at large and to immigrants specifically, to live for extended periods of time in America without learning English.

States should be concerned with helping immigrant children, and their parents, transition as quickly as possible into the new language, into our civic duties, and into our cultural mores. Immigrants who become naturalized should learn our political processes and learn to use them in petitioning their governing officers, addressing grievances and seeking economic prosperity.

So, while it is clear and evident that Latinos that do not adjust and integrate do not become terrorists (its a different story altogether), some of the basic problems of integration are still relevant and important. Perhaps, better integration would reduce gang involvement among Latino kids, or perhaps it would result in an improved overall economic condition for Latinos. I think better integration would make a huge difference in reducing racist attitudes towards Latinos among those that are simply ignorant.

Most importantly, I think better integration with Latinos would do wonders in allowing this country, Anglos, black, Asians and others, to learn more and better understand the Latino culture. If others in this nation do not understand the Latino immigration problem, and the Latino culture, it is only because Latino's in general have done a bad job connecting and communicating with the American culture.

Why should a nation accept immigrants, if these immigrants do not care enough to learn the language and mores? From what I have experienced, having learned the language and culture, integration makes life a lot easier.