by Ryan Almodovar
“Hola Newo Yorko! El stormo grande is mucho dangeroso!” tweeted Rachel Figueroa-Levin, a house wife that created the Twitter handle of ‘@MiguelBloombito’ – a fictional, Latinized version of New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
During the onset of Hurricane Irene, the real Bloomberg took to the streets of his city, initiating an almost unheard of evacuation and preparedness plan. Throughout the run-up to the storm, Bloomberg did make an attempt to reach out to his Spanish speaking constituents – admittedly with much more competence than Rachel Figueroa gave him credit for. Bloomberg’s use of Spanish, even in a small way, during an emergency situation deserves credit, because it shows how the United States is transforming into a ‘bilingual’ country.
It’s no secret that Latinos are making an increased impact on the demographic distribution of our country. Current estimates place our country at having roughly a 16 percent share of the population, with that amount almost doubling by 2050. Along with this, Spanish is easily the second most-used language in the country. Based on these two facts alone, the need for increased use of Spanish is evident. Unfortunately, as with a lot of logical things in this country, the implementation of our second language has been slow and met with confrontation. Call it close-mindedness or bigotry, but the stark reality is that despite the obvious need for change, there will likely always be some opposition.
Willful ignorance aside, it is good to find situations where both languages are acknowledged and used together. The onus is on Bloomberg to protect a city that is 27 percent Hispanic in origin, and even though he is a politician who generally supports Latino issues, it would be both unsafe and unwise to ignore the fact that so many of his city’s citizens just may need a translation to be safe. Sure, he may have a strong accent when speaking – but the point is that he tried.
It’s true that the ‘English-Only’ public might be apprehensive or even outright opposed to even trying, but this is an obstacle that can be changed and overcome in due time. Even now, most financial and government institutions do offer the options for Spanish materials and translation, something that was less prevalent 10 years ago. Many businesses are also starting to catch on to the growing trend, realizing that if you want to stay on top of the public that you wish to reach out to – you need someone translating and helping you. The businesses that understand this first will flourish, while others simply try to keep up. Of course, having ‘bilingual’ on your resume can only be beneficial to job seekers as well.
Though the change might be slow, it is happening all the time. As Latinos, it is important for us to stay abreast of the direction our language and country is taking. We are a growing movement, and only through time and effort will we see any change.
To learn more about Ryan, visit Awkward and Dangerous.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.