When government stereotypes

Imagine, for a moment, that you a white physician.  A man, who you have never previously met, has made an appointment with you.   You see that his sir name is “Garcia”.   Being a bit old-fashioned, you greet the new patient in the waiting room and address him in Spanish.  Is it far fetched to envision this Mr. Garcia as being a fourth generation American whose only language is English?  Is it far fetched to envision this Mr. Garcia as being offended that you assume, based merely on his sir name, that he is more comfortable with Spanish than English?
Let us take this thought experiment a bit further by replacing Mr. Garcia with Mrs. Yokomuro and you have addressed her in Japanese.  The situation would be awkward indeed when she explained to you that even her grandmother was not fluent in Japanese and how dare you be so prejudiced!
But, apparently, it is perfectly alright for the central government to assume that Hispanics are native Spanish speakers.  As justification for asking about Hispanic ethnicity on the census, the government offers us this:

Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?

Asked since 1970. The data collected in this question are needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State and local governments may use the data to help plan and administer bilingual programs for people of Hispanic origin (emphasis mine).

They don’t even bother to say “Hispanics”, which might imply “Spanish speaker”.  Instead they use the term ” Hispanic origin”, which includes even those whose families have been in the U.S. for hundreds of years.
This is just one example, out of many, of government hypocrisy; preaching to us the evils of stereotyping while doing the exact same thing themselves.

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4 Responses to When government stereotypes

  1. “We do not have a problem of immigration. We have a problem of integration.”

  2. Vanessa says:

    I understand totally. My parents were born in Cuba and Spanish is their first language, but they’re both fluent English speakers and they’d be offended if the doctor spoke to them in Spanish, thinking they’re not American. I speak Spanish myself, but if I go into a store and they speak to me in Spanish, I leave. Some of my relatives can’t speak Spanish at all, they only speak English and they’d be pissed if someone addressed them in Spanish, like I would be if someone addressed me in Italian because I look Italian because I don’t speak it. But it’s the Census, clueless dopes.

  3. Ryan says:

    I don’t really think it’s much different when someone with an accent sees me and speaks English, where a moment before they were just speaking in their native tongue to some other customer/client who resembled them.
    In otherwords, I think we should be speaking the same language regardless of where people appear to be from because that is the language of the nation in which we live. If I lived in Hong Kong, I would learn the language and speak to everyone else who I come across in that language, even if they were white like me. There are exceptions to this of course, say if I run across some British tourists that ask me in English how to get to so and so place.
    Nevertheless, I find it horribly rude to have people jabbering away in their foreign language around me. Even my wife who is a Black Jamaican has gotten incensed at Asians speaking their own language. One time while we were on a ferry to Vancouver Island she told me that we needed to move away from that area of the boat because their constant natter was getting on her nerves.

  4. rockinghorse says:

    Some Sephardic Jews have old timey Spanish last names. Just today a Hollywood entertainment lawyer committed suicide. He was married to Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke).
    The poor fellow’s name is Peter Lopez. Lopez is easily a Sephardic name

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