With mid-term elections coming up in the USA, fake news and scare stories designed to influence voters abound. Immigration is always a hot topic, and the mere suggestion that someone might be in America to ‘take advantage’ is enough to get people of a certain political persuasion foaming at the mouth. This viral video of a Walmart employee telling a man of El Salvadorian descent that he should be speaking English has certainly gotten people talking, and it lays bare the deep divisions and misunderstandings about immigration in a country built on just that.
The video itself is actually pretty innocuous. Sure, the Walmart employee was at work, and is there to deliver customer service not give her personal opinions on what language people ‘should’ be speaking. However it was far from a racist tirade of hate, and shouldn’t be treated as such. The man, Joel Aparicio, has apparently lived in Houston for 13 years, while the employee, known only as Cecilia, spoke Spanish herself and “looked Hispanic” according to Mr. Aparicio. Perhaps Cecilia had worked hard to learn English herself, and feels that others should make the effort too? But then again, the incident took place in the City of Pasadena. With an Hispanic population of over 60%, maybe Mr. Aparicio felt like speaking his native Spanish was a perfectly normal thing to do?
The reactions to the video were eye-opening. People claiming to be relatives of Cecilia threatened Mr. Aparicio directly after it was released, while others defended his right to speak whatever language he chooses, citing the lack of an ‘official’ language in the USA. And as always there were those who, unable to see the irony in their own badly written English, demand that he should learn the language or ‘get out.’
Perhaps, after the election and this particularly divisive government, topics like immigration will be discussed in a more rational way. Talk of ‘invasion’ and witch hunts against ‘illegals’ aren’t helpful, but then neither is shouting ‘racist’ at every person that may not be as accepting of diversity as you.
For now, it is what it is, and people will have their say. Scroll down below to check out the video and reactions for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments!