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Anti-assimilation claims haunt Latinos, Asians in U.S.

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By RUSSELL CONTRERAS

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Brokaw was right and should not have apologized.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

“Anti-assimilation claims haunt Latinos, Asians in U.S.“

This headline makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t it be “Non-assimilation”? And the article itself is strewn with grammar errors and is in serious need of a good proofreading.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I went and found the full quote:

"I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation.

"That's one of the things I've been saying for a long time.

"You know, that they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities."

The problem here is how he worded it. It would have better been worded along the lines of:

People will feel more comfortable in their communities when everyone is able to communicate at the same level. It's important that people from non-English speaking communities work to ensure their kids grow up speaking English so they can feel more comfortable participating in society as equal members of it when they get older.

The way he worded it, it comes across as seeming to say Hispanic communities are not working hard enough at 'assimilating', which is only going to raise hackles, because that's easy for a white older man to say not having had to face the issues that these communities face. he also singled out the Hispanic community as a specific group, when the idea of what he is trying to say is applicable to all members of a society, not specifically Hispanics.

The idea of what he is trying to say is justified. The way he said it unfortunately means it got drowned out in the age of outrage.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This headline makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t it be “Non-assimilation”?

It should. Anti-assimilation and non-assimilation are not the same thing, and there is literally nothing in the article to refer to anti-assimilation. There are only Brokaw's comments on assimilation, which can be taken to be referring to non-assimilation. Labeling his comments as referring to anti-assimilation is unethical on a journalistic level, as it is the author inferring their own meaning of the comment rather than what can be logically inferred.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Brokaw was right and should not have apologized.

I am Hispanic, grew up in a formerly Hispanic-majority neighborhood to immigrant parents, and am confronted with Hispanics in real life on a daily basis. Brokaw’s comments, while arguably well-meaning, are false.

These claims about Hispanics not properly assimilating or refusing to learn English always leave me puzzled. Not only do most immigrant children end up speaking English only, even the ones that claim to be “bilingual” often are capable of speaking only a kind of pidgin Spanish, and are utterly unable to read or write the language, which can make for entertaining verbiage in any number of advertisements and commercials aimed at US Spanish-speakers, but clearly devised by people whose command of the language is, to state it generously, only a tenuous one. One must also consider that the likes of Univisión and Telemundo have struggled with retaining younger, US-born audiences, who often shun their programming in favor of English-language networks.

Moreover, the influence of the Spanish language is, arguably, on the wane in the US, even among immigrants. I cannot tell you how often it occurs when people who are obviously native Spanish speakers who at best only have a rudimentary grasp of English refuse to speak their maternal tongue with me, even if doing so severely hampers their ability to communicate effectively.

It also seems to me—and this is just a personal observation for which I am unable to provide statistics to confirm—that immigrant children born in the last 20 years tend to be mostly mono-lingual in English and have, at best, a very fleeting grasp of Spanish, if that. Back when I was a child in the 1980s, it seemed most children were like myself, able to converse fluently in both languages. (I myself was not permitted by my parents to speak English at home.) Now it is comparatively rare to find such children. Even among those that do, they often tend to lose their grip on Spanish by their high school years, presumably out of peer pressure lest they be thought of as “paisas” or “nacos”. There is also a curious backlash amongst a certain faction of politically-engaged youth of the typical ideological persuasion who justify their rejection/ignorance of Spanish by claiming it to be an “oppressor” or “colonialist” language. (Why they therefore only speak English when it could be argued that it, too, is guilty of these supposed crimes, instead of Nahuatl or Quechua remains unanswered.)

If anything, Spanish has suffered a remarkable erosion deep into Spain and Latin America itself, especially acute in the past decade even in publications of literary merit. It is now commonplace to find publications like El País (which is something like the Spanish language equivalent to the New York Times with respect to prestige and political bent) supplanting existing Spanish words with crude borrowings from English (e.g. “mítin” instead of “junta”, “impeachment” instead of “impugnación”, “internet” or “web” instead of “red” or “red cibernética”, etc.), even when the replaced words are themselves of common usage.

So, again, when people like Brokaw claim that Hispanics do not assimilate enough, I must claim the opposite. If anything, there appears to be among many a lingering collective and perhaps unconscious sense of shame about their backgrounds, which leads them to overzealously assimilate themselves, to the extent of willingly abandoning their own heritage and traditions.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Having grown up in Los Angeles, he is absolutely correct. I went to high school with a huge number of Latino students who not only did not speak English after being in the country for years, they flat out refused to.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Having grown up in Los Angeles, he is absolutely correct. I went to high school with a huge number of Latino students who not only did not speak English after being in the country for years, they flat out refused to.

I highly doubt they “refused” to. Your statement, which may possibly have possessed a measure of truth back in the 1970s or 1980s, is certainly no longer true in 2019. And I say this as somebody who is not only born and raised in Los Angeles, as well as currently residing in its environs, but as a Hispanic myself who works and lives with other Hispanics on a daily basis. Real-life Hispanics, mind you, not the cardboard-cut out stereotypes from an age long past which older whites seem to believe persist in our present day.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I highly doubt they “refused” to. Your statement, which may possibly have possessed a measure of truth back in the 1970s or 1980s, is certainly no longer true in 2019. And I say this as somebody who is not only born and raised in Los Angeles, as well as currently residing in its environs, but as a Hispanic myself who works and lives with other Hispanics on a daily basis. Real-life Hispanics, mind you, not the cardboard-cut out stereotypes from an age long past which older whites seem to believe persist in our present day.

I don’t care if you believe it. I graduated high school in 1992. My JROTC class was were they dumped the huge number of Latino kids that refused to cooperate in PE. They required a translator because they refused to speak English. The same kids still refused to speak English the entire three years I knew them.

You can complain about cardboard cutouts and stereotypes all day long, doesn’t make them not true.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don’t care if you believe it.

I also would not doubt if you care if it is true or not.

I graduated high school in 1992. My JROTC class was were they dumped the huge number of Latino kids that refused to cooperate in PE. They required a translator because they refused to speak English. The same kids still refused to speak English the entire three years I knew them. 

The fact that you used “dumped” already betrays your dislike of these people.

Also, I find it impossible to believe that these same students “refused to cooperate” for physical education classes. Even if they were indeed these bumbling bumpkins from deep in the heart of Mexico, what possible impediment could their lack of English pose in a physical education class? Do you need to know English in order to run laps or do jumping jacks?

In my high school, the only way you could avoid physical education was by either joining the marching band or JROTC. But you could not simply “refuse”. Those that did for whatever reason were punished by additional exercise, a trip to the dean’s office, or suspension. The only times I ever saw anyone refuse these classes were from students who were simply too lazy.

You can complain about cardboard cutouts and stereotypes all day long, doesn’t make them not true.

Some stereotypes are unfortunately true. However, some do age poorly in the face of change. Would anyone today continue to believe the old stereotype of Chinese neighborhoods beings dens of iniquity fogged by opium clouds? Your stereotypes of Hispanics are much in the same vein. While they may have had some truth to them 50 years ago, they were far from accurate in my high school days, and are certainly laughably outdated today. I presume you have had no further contacts with Hispanics individually or en masse since 1992. At any rate, you certainly sound out of touch with how they actually are in 2019.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I also would not doubt if you care if it is true or not.

There's one huge difference between you and I. I did not ever try to insist that your claims of your experiences were untrue. I'm only backing up my claims and my experiences.

I'm sure that your experiences are just as valid as mine, but I can acknowledge that we don't live in one giant bubble where everyone experiences the same thing.

The fact that you used “dumped” already betrays your dislike of these people.

No, it means they literally "dumped" these kids into JROTC because they would fail PE otherwise. Nothing hidden in the meaning.

Also, I find it impossible to believe that these same students “refused to cooperate” for physical education classes. Even if they were indeed these bumbling bumpkins from deep in the heart of Mexico, what possible impediment could their lack of English pose in a physical education class? Do you need to know English in order to run laps or do jumping jacks?

You're putting a lot of words in my mouth that I never said. Bumbling bumpkins? The kids were refusing to participate. That's it. You're seeing racism where there is none.

It was easier for them to remove the kids from PE classes so the teachers could focus on the ones who wanted to participate. JROTC was apparently the easiest place to put them. Probably because the instructors were not teachers, hence not union and had less say in the matter.

Your stereotypes of Hispanics are much in the same vein. While they may have had some truth to them 50 years ago

Except that this wasn't 50 years ago, this was 1992.

I presume you have had no further contacts with Hispanics individually or en masse since 1992. At any rate, you certainly sound out of touch with how they actually are in 2019.

Once again, I've not disrespected your views, yet you make inaccurate presumptions about my experiences because they differ from yours.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The senile Tom Brockaw should fade away.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There's one huge difference between you and I. I did not ever try to insist that your claims of your experiences were untrue. I'm only backing up my claims and my experiences. 

But did you also not write that, “[Brokaw] is absolutely correct”? Such a statement does not seem to augur a mind open to the divergent experiences of others.

I'm sure that your experiences are just as valid as mine, but I can acknowledge that we don't live in one giant bubble where everyone experiences the same thing.

Perhaps you do indeed feel this way, though your somewhat inarticulate and inchoate comments would indicate your true feelings run contrary.

No, it means they literally "dumped" these kids into JROTC because they would fail PE otherwise. Nothing hidden in the meaning.

If lack of fluency in English precluded their participation in physical education classes, which consists of participating in activities that are not related to language skills, then why would they be “dumped” in JROTC where at least some skill in the language would be essential? I have no doubt that there were a significant amount of Hispanics in your JROTC class. That may have to do with Hispanics tending to be more supportive of US military service than some other demographics, rather than poor English language skills.

You're putting a lot of words in my mouth that I never said. Bumbling bumpkins? The kids were refusing to participate. That's it.

I never said you called them that, nor does my previous comment even intimate such a thing. Rather, my point was that notwithstanding the hypothetical event that these students unmistakably demonstrated extreme ignorance or obstinacy against learning English, that such a scenario would not preclude them from participation in physical education. Are you sure that you yourself are fluent in English?

At any rate, considering that my period 4 physical education class in ninth grade was composed mostly of non-English speakers, you will, doubtless understand my disbelief.

It was easier for them to remove the kids from PE classes so the teachers could focus on the ones who wanted to participate. JROTC was apparently the easiest place to put them. Probably because the instructors were not teachers, hence not union and had less say in the matter.

This makes no sense. Why would physical education classes pose a problem for non-English speakers, but not JROTC? If anything, the opposite scenario would have been far more believable. Just considering the pervasiveness of Spanish-speakers in California, even in the early 1990s, it seems highly unlikely that there were not at least some students on hand to translate the physical education teacher’s remarks into English for the sake of the Spanish monolinguals. Given your claim of having “grown up” in Los Angeles, which in 1992 was already a vast enclave of Hispanics, both immigrant and US-born, I find your assertion all the more questionable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I do want to clarify that I dont think 'assimilation' is a good word to use. I view assimilation as completely adopting another culture while sacrificing your own. I would never want anyone to do that.

But did you also not write that, “[Brokaw] is absolutely correct”? Such a statement does not seem to augur a mind open to the divergent experiences of others.

You are connecting two completely different things here. My experiences and yours differ. I trust that your experiences are as true as mine. I also know from first hand experience that there are still large groups of different ethnicities that prefer to keep to themselves, not speak anything but their native language and not become part of America as a whole.

Perhaps you do indeed feel this way, though your somewhat inarticulate and inchoate comments would indicate your true feelings run contrary.

Nothing I said was incoherent or inarticulate. I think you were too quick to go on the defensive and using that as an excuse as to why.

If lack of fluency in English precluded their participation in physical education classes, which consists of participating in activities that are not related to language skills, then why would they be “dumped” in JROTC where at least some skill in the language would be essential? I have no doubt that there were a significant amount of Hispanics in your JROTC class. That may have to do with Hispanics tending to be more supportive of US military service than some other demographics, rather than poor English language skills.

I've already explained this in detail. The reason I used the word 'dumped' was because the kids did not want to participate and were literally "dumped" into a class to get them out of the way. JROTC instructors were not LAUSD teachers, they were retired military. They were not union and had little to no say in the matter. It was easier to make them deal with kids who didn't want to participate in PE and spoke little to no English than to argue with the PE teachers who actually had a say in the makeup of their classes.

Given your claim of having “grown up” in Los Angeles, which in 1992 was already a vast enclave of Hispanics, both immigrant and US-born, I find your assertion all the more questionable.

And there you go again. Even thought I have tried to remain civil and have an intelligent, discussion with you, you still resort to claiming that I am simply lying.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I do want to clarify that I dont think 'assimilation' is a good word to use. I view assimilation as completely adopting another culture while sacrificing your own. I would never want anyone to do that.

Fair enough.

You are connecting two completely different things here. My experiences and yours differ. I trust that your experiences are as true as mine.

But you said “absolutely”, which would indicate a belief that Brokaw’s comments are an absolute, or objective truth.

I also know from first hand experience that there are still large groups of different ethnicities that prefer to keep to themselves, not speak anything but their native language and not become part of America as a whole.

There certainly are such ethnicities, but Hispanics are not among them. Here in Southern California, the Armenian and Korean communities, for example, are rather insular, with little to no use of English among themselves, as well as comparatively low rates of exogamy. That is not the case with Hispanics. Some, like Argentines or Chileans, who have a high percentage of Caucasians among their population, often blend in to the general white population seamlessly. In my own experience, the only group of Hispanics I can think of with a tendency to insularity are Cubans. But they also tend to quickly adopt English and treat knowledge of it as a status symbol.

I've already explained this in detail.

Not really.

The reason I used the word 'dumped' was because the kids did not want to participate and were literally "dumped" into a class to get them out of the way. JROTC instructors were not LAUSD teachers, they were retired military. They were not union and had little to no say in the matter. It was easier to make them deal with kids who didn't want to participate in PE and spoke little to no English than to argue with the PE teachers who actually had a say in the makeup of their classes.

Now I am truly skeptical of your claims. But before I talk about that, let me address again that you have not clarified the rationale for this action: if English was an impediment for these students to participate in a physical education class, where linguistic skills are not required in order to perform various exercises, then why would they be sent to a JROTC class, where presumably obeying verbal and written commands which require at least a modicum of English language skills is crucial to participation? That makes no sense. In fact, had you told me the opposite, that would have been credible.

Personally I can recall, once more, that my 9th grade physical education class which was taught by a white Vietnam veteran consisted of mostly non-English speakers. They were able to participate without problems in class; a few of them excelled formidably. I had never heard of a scenario requiring the removal of students from a physical education class (of all things) by virtue of their inability to speak English. Especially in an LAUSD school in 1992, which certainly by then had more than a trifling minority of Hispanic students at that time. (Hispanics, many of them presumably not being native English speakers, already accounted for about half of the district’s total students by that point.)

Moreover, the district was very accommodating towards them and, as I recall, were opposed to Proposition 187 and the resulting shuttering of ESL programs. Which brings me to another point. If these students were not able to participate in physical eduction classes because of their inability to speak the common national language, than why did staff from the ESL services not assist? Because they certainly did provide interpretive assistance for students that required it for some course or other, at least in my high school. I remember in my biology class in 10th grade, for example, there was a member of the ESL staff to assist a group of non-English speakers.

Then one must consider that such an action as you claim, even if it had been taken, would have likely resulted in a discrimination lawsuit.

Even thought (sic) I have tried to remain civil and have an intelligent, discussion with you, you still resort to claiming that I am simply lying.

I would have been inclined to believe you had you said you attended school in Northern California or Orange County, which back in the early 1990s was quite hostile to Hispanics (and Vietnamese). Anywhere but Los Angeles, much less an LAUSD school. Not only did I grow up in the same city, but also went to LAUSD schools, graduating only a handful of years after you did. Considering the demographical facts at the time, your story is highly implausible. There may possibly be some nuggets of truth buried therein, but they have likely been distorted for the sake of ideological pontification.

But returning to your point, you seem to confuse “civility” with “agreement”. I have been quite civil in return—I simply do not believe you, however. One can disagree and still be civil.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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