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OP-ED: At least be truthful with your hypocrisy

Hilaree Foreman, Editor-in-Chief

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“I don’t understand it. If you’re going to live in America, you need to learn the language. In America, we speak English.”

This was said to me by a customer who had just witnessed me speaking to a customer in Spanish during a transaction. The customer had waited until I was done with said transaction, and the other customers were out of the store before uttering their comment.

In my over three years of working at Walgreens, I can say that I have encountered a many different people, cultures and customs. Working in retail in a small Texas town with a growing immigrant population from around the world has given me encounters I would have normally thought to experience in my hometown of Houston, not Stephenville, whose population is just over 17,000.

As a Texan, I consider myself to be pretty fluent in “Spanglish” when it comes to talking to Hispanic and Latino customers whose first language isn’t English. I understand Spanish a bit more than I can speak it so when it comes to translating for a customer, I can understand their needs, but sometimes I may not be able to answer them in the clear way that I would prefer to fulfill those said needs, so sometimes there is a barrier between the customer and me.

That’s okay because that is something that I embrace and it helps me see where I need to learn and grow to help make my Spanish interactions more proactive.

The transition of the demographic of Tarleton, Stephenville and surrounding areas who have been predominately white conservatives, to the more multicultural, immigrant population has sometimes reared its ugly head, and given the political climate of the past year,I can say that I am not surprised. People have shown their hypocrisy through their perceptions of languages.

Unbeknownst to me, Dublin, Comanche and other small towns in the area have a known European population from Holland, Switzerland and the likes. While I am not the only person at my store that speaks Spanish, I can definitely guarantee you that no one at my store speaks French, Dutch or anything along those lines, so those translating interactions are not as flawless as our Spanish ones.

Besides the language barrier, the only thing I have noticed about my interactions with foreign born customers has been the patience of other Stephenville residents who witness them and the difference is glaring; language barriers among Hispanic and Middle Eastern customers are deemed much more negative than my interactions with European customers.

This isn’t me saying that my customers are racist for acting like this, but I am pointing out the prejudice and hypocrisy in their nature. Starting from whatever time, we as Americans have always deemed those who are white and don’t speak English well, or even at all, more intelligent and worthy than people of color who don’t speak English as a first language.

Why is that? Both parties are incapable or struggling to speak English, but for some reason, we deem one party as stupid and not deserving to live in our country, which was built on immigration.

I had an interaction with a French woman who spoke maybe 10 words of English and it was laughed off by another customer, but whenever I am speaking to a Hispanic customer, it is almost demonized by other people that I dare to know another language.

If this is a nation that was built on the “American Dream” to where if you work hard enough, you can come from anywhere and make a better life, then you have to believe and accept that. In all languages.

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OP-ED: At least be truthful with your hypocrisy