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Culture

Another Ignorant Person Disrespects a Latina for Speaking Spanish

I am sick and tired of ignorant people in this country telling others that they must speak English. Their brainless notion that “this is America,” which means one can only speak English and no other language is absolutely insane and needs to stop. This time the verbal assault came from a Texas official who told a Latina — Judge Lina Hidalgo — to speak English during a press conference.

The comment came on March 25, when Judge Hidalgo was addressing the community of Harris County, in Texas, about the latest on a tank fire at the ITC Deer Park facility. Judge Hidalgo, who made history as the “first Latina and the first woman elected as the county’s top executive,” according to NBC News, addressed the Latino community when a reporter asked her a question in Spanish during the press conference.

Now, as most people know, when there’s a press conference, officials have sign language interpreters, sometimes have Spanish subtitles, or speak Spanish, to address the people of that area. That’s how it’s done. But Mark Tice, a county commissioner in Texas, clearly has never seen how a press conference works or how officials address people because he dared to comment in a news channel’s Facebook page that live streamed the press conference.

He commented “She is a joke. English this is not Mexico.”  For starters, he didn’t even use proper punctuation, but I digress. Secondly, while he has apologized for his comment, he has yet to delete his disrespectful words. He obviously likes the attention he is getting from it. When he was asked by the Houston Chronicle whether he had made that comment or not (you know, giving him a chance to deny or at least seem sympathetic) he told them: “It’s real simple. This is the United States. Speak English.” He went on to say that he is not racist and that other Latinos share his feelings about speaking English only.

“If you come to this country, learn the language or get an interpreter,” he told the Chronicle. I guess he missed the part of the press conference when she was speaking in English. I’m not sure what made him see the error of his ways, but he later did issue an apology — sort of.

He later said, via Facebook, according to NBC News, “From my understanding, there were reporters asking questions in Spanish and Judge Hidalgo responded to those questions in Spanish, with no translation given. If that is not the case, then I sincerely apologize.” Ironically, that post has been deleted, so the only evidence of his remarks on social media is not the apology but his ignorant comment toward Judge Hidalgo.

In response to Tice’s comments, Judge Hidalgo (who’s got degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and NYU Law School), said via a spokesperson that her office “is directly responsible for the safety of 4.5 million residents of Harris County, a third of whom are Spanish speakers. The vast majority of the public relies on local news for information in a time of crisis. Judge Hidalgo represents all of Harris County and given the county’s composition and her bilingual skills, she will continue to communicate as broadly as possible especially when public safety is at stake.”

I love that Judge Hidalgo isn’t bothering to deal with Tice and is taking former First Lady’s Michelle Obama’s stance that “when they go low, we go high.”