Journal Article — The Struggle for Language Rights: Naming and Interrogating the Colonial Legacy of “English Only” — by Lilia I. Bartolomé

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Abstract

In this article, Lilia Bartolomé theorizes about her personal experiences and links the language suppression she experienced to the internal colonization framework that Gloria Anzaldúa utilized to explain the subordinate linguistic and social status of people of color in the United States. Bartolomé also illustrates how the English-only movement functions to domesticate people of color while it serves to integrate white immigrant groups into the dominant culture. In her view, educators who refuse to connect with Anzaldúa’s cry for human dignity and liberation will remain complicit and reap benefits from the “tradition of silence.” In contrast, educators who are ideologically and politically clear will always transcend the mechanization of teaching and learning so as to denounce the xenophobia that parades itself under the banner of patriotism and “English for the children.” Their political clarity will invariably give them the ethical courage to highlight the fact that indigenous people and many Mexican Americans did not cross the border. In fact, the border crossed them. Teachers’ political and ideological clarity should also imbue them with enough empathy to understand the inextricable link between language, identity, voice, and hope.

Recommended Citation

Bartolomé, Lilia I. 2006. “The Struggle for Language Rights: Naming and Interrogating the Colonial Legacy of “English Only”.” Pp. 25-32 in Re-Membering Anzaldúa: Human Rights, Borderlands, and the Poetics of Applied Social Theory: Engaging with Gloria Anzaldua in Self and Global Transformations (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume IV, Special Issue, 2006.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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