No, I don’t speak Spanish
Feb 06, 2013 | 3904 views | 12 12 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
EDITOR,

I have applied for job positions in Patterson and Modesto. Going back to college part time, I have applied for many positions. I often get an interview with companies I apply for, but the question they ask that leaves me jobless is, “Are you bilingual?”

I say yes, I speak English, and I know sign language. They always respond with, “I need a Spanish speaker, but thanks, anyways.”

There is a dental office in Patterson that has contacted me three times. The second and third time, I thought, well, maybe they want to give me a shot, even though I don’t speak Spanish. The dentist set me up for a job interview.

The last question she asked me over the phone was, “Are you bilingual?” My response was yes.

“Spanish, you know Spanish?” I told her no again, and she responded with “Oh, never mind, have a good day.”

How is it fair that I, an American, have to learn Spanish to obtain a job in my own country? If I went to another country, they would not bend over backwards and be accommodating to me simply because I don’t know their language.

I applied for another position at a store in Patterson. Didn’t hear anything back. When I went to that store recently and couldn’t find my item, I asked an employee. Her response was “No speak English.” About five feet from me was another employee. I asked her, and her response was “Oh, English un poco.” I lost it.

A Spanish speaker doesn’t have to speak English, but an English speaker must speak Spanish. I cannot get a job because I don’t speak Spanish, but hey, it’s OK if you only know Spanish and no English.

This is not about racism. This is about experiencing discrimination for not speaking a language that is different from what this country was founded on. I thought America was about equal opportunities, united as one.

I know many Patterson Latinos who feel the same way. They were born and raised here, and because they do not speak Spanish, they, too, cannot obtain a job.

Kimberly Wilson, Patterson

Comments
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denisev1220
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February 12, 2013
I too, get frustrated when I go to a store and the employees are speaking in a language I don't understand. I am not a racist in any way, I don't care who it is speaking a different language. And while everything is being printed up in two languages, do we forget all the other people here who speak Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian etc. It isn't just English that is getting discriminated against. I had a guy at my door one day selling a dictionary that was bi-lingual. I asked him where he was from and he said Israel and I asked him... does it make you sad that they don't include your language too? Only English and Spanish. We are not doing any favors for those who don't know English. They can't read a contract before they sign it and be sure it is in their best interest. Or if one gets sick and goes to a hospital in an ambulance, how will they tell the paramedic where it hurts or what allergies they have? You could say a paramedic should be bi-lingual, but they can't learn EVERY foreign language out there. When I was young, I lived in the middle east for almost three years. I learned enough of the language to get by!!! We never demanded that they learn our language. If you live here, you have a responsibility to learn the rules and laws. And language.
aeh4543
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February 12, 2013
The fact is, learning a second language is hard - ask anyone who has completed high school and college level classes in any language. Trying to learn it on your own is even more complicated, even with expensive programs like Rosetta Stone. The problem that many people coming to the U.S. have - Asians, Hispanics, Middle Easterners - is the lack of money and time, especially when they have to work 2-3 jobs to survive.

If we want people to speak English, we need to devote more resources to adult education, which has been vastly underfunded in recent years. One look at Patterson's percentage of adults over 25 not having a high school diploma or GED - 30%, according to the 2010 census. Whether that includes migrant workers or not is irrelevant. Our population as a whole is not very educated; only 11% had bachelor's degrees or higher. This information does not make Patterson an attractive place for highly educated people with money - small business owners and corporations alike. We are not going to get the higher paying jobs without an educated workforce.

What we should be asking at this point is whether MJC will be offering adult ed and ESL classes here, now that community colleges will have responsibility for adult ed. If not, that will present further barriers for people who need to complete their high school education and/or learn English.

Food for thought.
martiev52
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February 21, 2013
It is difficult to learn a new language. When my husband immigrated here from Mexico, he was fortunate and motivated enough to take a class that he paid for, to learn English. He also read everything he could get his hands on and although he was embarrased at times, he continued to use his new language regularly at school and work to become proficient. To this day, 35 years later, he still has an accent, but can speak and write as well as most Americans. There are so many programs available to learn English here, even some elementary schools offer them. One just has to look, and don't worry, they are bilingual! :)
Mina213
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February 11, 2013
Shameful the feelings and ignorance of some people in our community, for a moment I thought I was reading a paper from Arizona. Please educate yourselves with this facts:

a)the economy in our country is messed up because of the engorged budget to the Military Industrial Complex and its for profit private contracts.

b)learn the REAL history of Latinos in the U.S. and this Continent, by reading the book and watching the DVD and soon to played in Theaters Documentary "Harvest of Empire" endorsed and recommended by the Smithsonian Institute.
Mina213
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February 11, 2013
fact c) (missing from my previous post):

the lack of jobs in our country is due to Corporations greed and outsourcing jobs overseas.

Mina Olin, Patterson
pattersonirrigator
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February 11, 2013
Thanks for posting the reminder of our policy. Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to monitor these posts 24-7, but as our policy states, feel free to contact us at news@pattersonirrigator.com if there is anything that appears to violate the policy.

Thanks again!
Cuellar.Sergio
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February 10, 2013
Here is the actual quote from the irrigator staff!

"Just another reminder of the Irrigator's policy:

We encourage your online comments in this public forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a forum for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Readers may report such inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at news@pattersonirrigator.com."

Read more: Patterson Irrigator - No license to lie
Cuellar.Sergio
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February 10, 2013
WOW!! First im shocked that the the Irrigator is printing such a letter where not one, but a whole group of people are being attacked. They threatened to kick people off the online forum for attacking people and not keeping it "civil" for a discussion about politics. But they are ok starting discussions that question weather people are racist or not?

As for Marias 72 comment: "Furthermore all the street signs, government buildings, The Constitution and all federal legislation...EVERYTHING is written in English" Here is a breakdown of some of those city names, and streets that you say are all written in English (HIstory lesson! The following were all named by Spanish Conquistadores and Missionaries, and the Mexican Government when California was part of Mexico!)

El Circulo = the Circle

Las Palmas= The palms

San Diego = Saint Diego

San Francisco = Saint Francisco

El Dorado = The Gold

Sacramento = Sacrament

El Camino= The Road

San Joaquin = Saint Joaquin

So see! You actually know more spanish than you give yourself credit for!

And Carlos Ramirez i agree!



michaelajay
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February 09, 2013
Thanks ladies. I really do find it amazing how people take this wrong. Its not about racism its the language. Your so right marias72, all our sings are in English. What get me is how we bend over backwards to cater to these people. You go to the court house, DMV, any doctors office and everything is printed in Spanish and English.. You know how much money they would save if they just printed it in English. Your also right by saying its disrespectful to the English speaker who was born and raised here to have to be denied a job in her own country. I finally got tired of it. Being told to come in for an interview and then be asked if i speak Spanish and then to be turned away. That dental office by savemart contacted me three times. Come on lady that's horrible its like sticking a knife in me over and over again. Don't they know how to write notes... I will tell you this if I go to walmart one more time and if that happens to be again I will go straight to the manager and speak my mind for sure. Thanks again ladies We have to speak out or they are just going to keep walking all over us. I think they think because we are the minority here now that they rule over us Americans. Not in my book no way no how. Like I said I have many Latino friends here in Patterson. One from Mexico and she finds it wrong and highly disrespectful not to learn English. Her words " who do they think they are" Its just not right.. Thanks again you guys I'm so happy that I'm not alone in this.
UnitedWeFall209
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February 10, 2013
And you ended it with I have many Latino friends and one from Mexico stating its not right WOW!!! Latinos as in Mexican American? And Mexico friend as in Illegal?....no not racist at all..

MariaS72
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February 09, 2013
Amen! Everytime this topic gets brought up someone always assumes the person saying it is racist. I recently saw someone post a similar comment on FB and the very few who did not agree posted things like "English is not our official language" and "Not everyone in America speaks English!" Yes, it is true that America does not "officially" state that English is our language but the state of California DOES have an official language, and it just so happens tobbe English! Furthermore all the street signs, government buildings, The Constitution and all federal legislation...EVERYTHING is written in English. Also, to become a United States citizen you must be able to read, write and speak English, although there are some exceptions for the elderly and mentally disabled. So, it may not officially state that English is the language of America, but it is certainly implied and recognized by not only most people in America, but by people all around the world! If a person wants to enjoy the great things this country has to offer, the very least you could do is show some respect for this great nation and learn to speak English. Some people may argue it is your ethical obligation! The fact that businesses have to hire bilingual, or even worse, Spanish-only speaking adults in order to do business with people who are too lazy to learn English is not only wrong, it is rewarding bad behavior!
aeh4543
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February 06, 2013
Oh, it's not just Patterson ... SO many places! I get where you're coming from, not personally, but from friends who have experienced it. Hang in there!


We encourage your online comments in this public forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a forum for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Readers may report such inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at news@pattersonirrigator.com.