You know the one…the one where a white American thinks you’re only allowed to speak English.
Xiara Mercado walked into a Starbucks in Hawaii dressed in her Air Force uniform, ordered her drink, and was casually talking on the phone to someone in Spanish. As she left, a woman tapped her on the shoulder — not to thank her for her service, but to scold her for speaking a language other than English.
“You shouldn’t be speaking Spanish, that’s not what that uniform represents,” the woman said, telling Mercado that her choice to speak Spanish in public was “distasteful.”
Where is this coming from? I’m an out of touch ivory tower guy from a culture where we think it’s fabulous when people are fluent in multiple languages. This resentment against people with different backgrounds feels wrong, like there’s a side of America that doesn’t want to believe that they are not the definition of reality.
It’s also weird to see this kind of demand in Hawai’i, which has an indigenous population as well as a substantial Asian population in addition to us colonizers. Isn’t it wrong to be speaking English, or Japanese, or Spanish there with this kind of attitude?