Miami - It Ain't Kansas
So poor little Zach Rubio got suspended for speaking Spanish, huh? Un-believable. I read this story and literally started laughing out loud. Not with some sick sense of schadenfraude at poor Zach’s misfortune, but rather at how warped you can become after living in Miami. It dawned on me that the rest of the country has not resigned itself to having to hear Spanish all the time, and that there are parts of America where it is frowned upon to speak a language other than English. Imagine that.
There are entire schools in Dade County, public schools, mind you, that teach only in Spanish. The kids don’t speak English in class, or on the playground or in gym class, unless it is to quote rap lyrics or talk shit during basketball games. And I have begun to take this as everyday fact. Sure, taxpayer money, much of it from the English-speaking part of Florida (aka Everything North of Dolphins Stadium) goes to fund Spanish language public education. What’s so weird about that?
What’s so weird? Well, apparently in the United States there is a huge debate going on about whether or not taxpayer money should be used to print signs and other public notices in Spanish. Such a debate seems incomprehensible to your average Dade County resident. We have entire grocery stores in Spanish. I spent yesterday recording the gym’s new phone system in English and Spanish. Living here is like living in Canada; everything must be done in BOTH official languages. English being the secondary one.
I wonder if some principal at Miami Senior High School back in like the 1960’s pulled a similar move when a bunch of Cuban kids started speaking Spanish in the halls. That poor, poor misguided American. Didn’t he realize that he was simply putting his finger in the dyke? That the unstoppable force of immigration would soon topple his little American tropical paradise? Perhaps Kansas City will be next to fall. Although it is hard to get a raft to Kansas.
My point in this is that when you live in Miami, you forget that the rest of the country still has this apparent backlash against things being in Spanish. The bilingual world that is Dade County conditions you into believing that doing things in Spanish is normal in the US. Then you remember that you don’t really live in the US anymore. If you suspended every kid in Dade County for speaking Spanish at school, nobody would make it out of Kindergarten. So I guess the rest of the country is up in arms about too much Spanish being spoken and written. They would not last one week west of I-95. This raises a very interesting question, though: Is Miami simply a precursor to what much of the rest of the country is going to become? Or will the American majority continue to put their collective feet down in places like Kansas? Stay tuned.