I always used to think you were cool and open-minded. You voted for Obama. You had a terrific downward dog pose. One of your friends was Chinese.
I figured, surely you would understand how wonderful it is to have a bilingual relationship. I thought you would praise me for speaking more than my native English – for being able to have meaningful conversations in both Chinese and English with my husband, who is from China.
So imagine my shock when you told me not to speak Chinese with my husband – in so many words.
I remember the way you looked so uncomfortable when you said this to me. I’m sure, at some level, you realized how totally inappropriate it was. That the part of you that prided yourself on promoting diversity would be tarnished by this one small action.
But you did it anyway – and you didn’t even apologize about it.
Since you care so much about diversity, let’s make something really clear. Speaking a foreign language is diversity. You can’t say “I love diversity” and then suddenly crap on someone else just because they speak another language.
Also, anyone who cares about diversity should have known that “English only” is just another way to say you’re afraid of foreigners. And guess what? Foreigners are also part of diversity, in case you didn’t notice. You shouldn’t be afraid of them if you like diversity. You should embrace them…which means embracing foreign languages too.
If this is about your own self-esteem issues – that, somehow, my ability to speak Chinese makes you feel bad about your monolingualism – please get over yourself. Nobody forced you to speak only English. You could have studied a foreign language anytime. Heck, you could do it now if you wanted. It’s called education.
Though, honestly, given how much you don’t understand about diversity or racism, you might want to start educating yourself on those.
Oh and by the way, there’s something else you should know. Saying you have a friend who is Chinese doesn’t prove you’re not a racist. In fact, white people have been using the excuse, “I’m not racist, I have a black friend” for years. It’s still lame, even when you replace “black” with “Chinese” or any other minority group.
I’m embarrassed that people like you call themselves “diverse” and “open-minded”, and then say things in public that would make anyone want to revoke your so-called diversity credentials instantly. So maybe the one who shouldn’t be speaking isn’t me — it’s you.