Sunday, January 06, 2008

Immigrant Ghetto is Not Such a Bad Thing

Sometimes I think that bilingual education in the US is a good idea. Plus, living in immigrant communities is also not such a bad idea. Think about it- if you try and learn English, it does not mean that you will get more respect and/or your life will be so much easier. The native locals can be nasty to those who speak with an accent and can treat them with utmost scorn, as they would sub-humans or mental retards. It can often happen in stores, very much so in social life and social situations and, especially, on the phone. People who are struggling with their English, get hung up on, laughed and yelled at and spoken to in irritated or patronizing tones. Why be humiliated like that if you can speak with someone in your own language who will treat you as normal human being, plus, you can accomplish so much more and so much faster if you call bilingual operators or other people who can speak your tongue? If you need an airline ticket now, and or have some medical emergency now, do you have time for hemming and hawing on the phone and listening to people on the other end of the phone line talk to you like you have the Down Syndrome or worse?

Many immigrant communities also provide the contacts, protection, advice and discount products and services that the much lauded American mainstream does not. Immigrants network, they have loan clubs and a great deal of communal support. They have access to cheaper lawyers, doctors and bankers that can provide every service for much smaller fees. Also, there is often more security and often less probability of being ripped off or overcharged by a fellow immigrant if the community is especially tight knit. However, if one gets into the often Protestant mainstream, one may not always get the same opportunities in America as one would if one stayed in the immigrant ghetto. The Mainstream is cold, ruthless, dog eat dog and very unsupportive. Prices and fees are higher. And if you are an immigrant, you can be taken to the cleaners by many an unscrupulous operator who will then disappear into the Wide Blue American Yonder never to be found again. There is little solidarity among fellow mainstreamers but a very big desire to screw the next guy over.

“Mainstreaming” is good for some things like certain obtaining certain high paying jobs after getting a degree or for asking directions on the street or in a case when people of your ethnicity are too few or too many, but in most cases, one should not discount the help that one can get in many an immigrant community that a regular Joe Black or Joe White often cannot hope for.

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