Tuesday, June 05, 2007

English Should Be The Official Language of the United States by Akindele Akinyemi

I have been observing both the Democratic and Republican debates on CNN. I am not that impressed with either candidates on either side, however, the issue of making English as the Official language of the United States caught my attention.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is against making English the Official language of the United States because we would not be able to translate ballots and other governmental documents into other language. On the other hand I heard a strong statement from Rep. Tom Tancredo stating about how English is the glue that keeps this country together.

I am a staunch supporter of students in the classroom learning other languages but in the inner city we have a problem trying to teach our own children English. We are so far removed from speaking and writing proper English that it is not funny. And in our community we uphold this because of Black English Vernacular.

Before I get into the Black English I would like to state my official position on this critical issue. English should be the OFFICIAL not NATIONAL language of the United States of America. Without a shadow of a doubt that the United States is a nation composed of immigrants. However, it is not a nation comprised of separate immigrant enclaves. We are a melting pot of many linguistic, cultural, and racial ethnic groups that are constantly interacting, integrating, and assimilating to form the American culture.

Adopting the English language has been an integral part of becoming an American. The English language serves as a national glue that not only binds, but also unites immigrants with native-born Americans. Although our love of freedom and democratic ideals help to unite and give Americans a sense of purpose, it is ultimately English which allows us to communicate with each other, discuss our views, and encourage trust, while reducing racial hostility and bigotry. Since we are a nation of immigrants, we do not have the common bonds other countries share: race, religion, culture, and ethnicity. By citizens learning English, we have been able to forge a unified nation from the diverse immigrants who harbor different beliefs and interests.

There are several industrialized countries that have more than one official language, including Canada, Belgium and India. Canada and Belgium both officially recognize two languages, while India has more than twenty. The people of these countries will generally concede that multi-lingualism is an onerous hindrance and does more harm than good.

Recent polls show that the WORLD believes in the importance of learning English. Multilingualism is causing a growing underclass, which is segregated and walled off into linguistic ghettos. A century ago such immigrant ghettos were marked by extreme poverty, 80-hour workweeks and child labor. As the industrial revolution matured, immigrants discovered that language skills were the key to entering the emerging "middle class." This, coupled with mandatory public education and reduced immigration, resulted in the successful assimilation of ethnic communities into American society.

Having English as our official language simply means that for the government to act officially, it must communicate in English. It means the language of record is the English language, and that no one has a right to demand government services in any other language. Official English would also reinforce America's historic message to new immigrants - that we expect them to learn English as the first step in their assimilation -- and that we are committed to ensuring that all Americans share in the economic, social and political benefits of having a common language.

What about Black people who speak Black English Vernacular? We understand that 80 to 90 percent of American Blacks speak Black English Vernacular most of the time. Additionally, BEV shares many characteristics with various Creole English dialects spoken by black people throughout much of the world. BEV also has pronunciation, grammatical structures, and vocabulary in common with various West African languages.

So as we are pushing for English to be the official language of the United States should we push school districts and Black people in general to speak proper English?

YES. We should teach our children to speak proper English and not BEV or Ebonics. This is a slick attempt from most Black Nationalists to further push our children back to accept Black Inferiority. Interesting, this is also pushed in some African-centered curriculums nationwide.

It is absurd for ANYONE to teach Ebonics because this will do nothing but hold back Black people, keeping us behind such immigrants as the Vietnamese, who are struggling to make their way in a nation whose language they know they must learn to get ahead.

For example, since most Black Nationalists in Detroit claim Africa how come they fail to tell you that countries like Kenya that English is the official language. They have never even heard of Ebonics.

My cousins in Nigeria has never heard of Ebonics. Neither has my cousins in London, England.

Also in Kenya, education is mandatory for all children and is paid for by the government. If the children don't go to the government schools, they are obliged to go to private schools, and their tuition must be paid by their parents. As a result of this, Kenyans have raised their literacy rate to almost 79 percent because they understand that education is the most important means to lift them and their land out of poverty and into a prosperous future.

Liberals in Urban America must understand that if we are going to participate on a global scale we need to master the English language, not Ebonics. Ebonics is nothing more than what I call a lazy form of English. If we can take the time to learn street slang then we should take the time to learn proper English.

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