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Why, Like English, Speaking Spanish is an American Thing, Not a ‘Latino Thing’



There is a memorable scene in the 1997 biopic Selena: Jennifer Lopez depicts the late singer having a discussion with her father about an upcoming interview with Spanish reporters. Her father is worried about his daughter’s limited Spanish speaking skills and is concerned over her presenting a good balance between being Mexican and American.

She aced the interview ending before a brief moment of hesitation:  “Me siento muy…muy… excited!”

According to the U.S. Bureau Census, the Latino population has grew to over 53 million in the United States since 2012 and is growing rapidly. This makes the Latino population the largest “ethnic group or racial minority.” Additionally, Spanish is the most non-English language in the United States, even among non-Latinos. There is no surprise that the United States is the 5th largest Spanish-speaking country (after Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and Argentina). Learning Spanish can make you smarter, more marketable in the job market, and more prepared to communicate with your fellow Americans. So, why isn’t Spanish required in school curriculum or more encouraged among young Americans? Our American ATM’s, business phone recording and bilingual manual instructions proves Se habla espanol.

America is considered “the melting pot,” and there is no official national language.

Yet, in response to the national debate over immigration laws, some state officials have decided to make English its state’s “ official language.” In other words, let’s keep this American. Contrary to popular belief, America does not belong, and never did, belong to the man of less-melanin skin. National Geographic concludes that the average American will look more like Stacey Dash than Taylor Swift by 2050. The same year America is expected to be the largest Spanish speaking country. However, there was a time that suppressing Spanish speaking skills was mainly about assimilating and fitting in for immigrants.

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