About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Order of Bratwurst ... With Corn Tortillas, Please.

Frustrating conversation with a student at the end of last week. One of those "I can't go into a store in Houston without speaking Spanish to some kid who is talking for his mother" conversations. I asked him if he liked dancing and Shiner Bock Beer.

Students in East Texas refuse to accept the idea that new immigrants to the United States are incorporating into U.S. culture and language far faster than their European predecessors had done. Show me a Spanish Language University like the Germans had in Pennsylvania (St. Vincent's College) or Minnesota (St. John's) and I'll concede the point. And when you can find me a school district in the United States that requires students to take Spanish, Chinese, or Tzeltal so that everybody can understand one another - as was done in Cincinnati, OH for Germans - then I might concede the point. And IF you can find me 200 schools in Texas that teach in exclusive Viet, Spanish, Khmer, Mandarin, etc. as was done in Minnesota for Danes, Swedes, Germans, Norwegians, Poles, etc., then I might just agree the "transition" is slower.

And of course, what Texan doesn't enjoy a night of dancing in the Central European-style dance halls and down the Texan National Beverage: Shiner Bock Beer from the K. Spoetzel Brewery (where a small few families still speak Texas-Deutsch). The face of Texas was changed with the arrival (to quote the book of that title) the Germans in the Winter Garden. As Hispanics return in larger numbers to Texas (unlike south Texas, East Texas had very sparse populations of Tejanos by the 1960s), the face of Texas might change a bit. It might even to look a little more like it did before the Czechs arrived - but at the end of the day, Texas is a migrant destination (ummm, Stephen F. Austin) and is all the better for it (well, unless you are Karankawa, Tejas, Alabama Coushotta, etc).

And kid, if that store owner's child is talking in English to you, then I think you really need to re-think what that means.

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