The American Experience

'Murica The American Experience Video

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There was a study done that found that as immigrant families come to the us by the 2nd generation , their native language begins to die. I started thinking about why Spanish is the second dominant language in the US. I found out that its because theres a large influx of first generation immigrants coming to the US from Latin America. (While there are immigrants from all over the world, their numbers are the highest.)

In Europe, children can speak up to 3 languages and still keep their mother tongue; while American children only have to learn English in school. Today, there is a huge shift in the American mindset, where being different is becoming more acceptable. There is not a huge backlash against people who want to retain their own culture, while living in the US. I believe that the dual language programs across the nation are the stepping stones to redefine what being American is, the land of immigrants with a common dream.

In the video, I picked the song Lost Boy by Troye Sivan because as I was growing up I never had a connection with the Mexican and American children. I was never accepted by both of them and I always felt like I lack a sense of identity.

Fighting For Recognition and Redefining What An "American" Is

Mendez v. Westminster School District

In 1945, Gonzalo Mendez asked his sister Soledad Vidaurri to enroll his kids in the Westminster Main School., where he attended as a child. To Gonzalo’s surprise, his children were not allowed to attend because they were Mexican, while Soledad’s children were allowed to attend because they had a light complexion and a French last name. Soledad told Gonzalo that his kids belonged to a school in another district. Gonzalo took up his case with the principal of the Westminster Main School, the Westminster School Board, and even the Orange County School Board. When his demands were ignored, Gonzalo decided to look for legal help and contacted David Marcus, an attorney in Los Angeles.

Marcus advised Mendez that his case would be stronger if it was filed as a class action law suit and which a series of law suits soon followed: Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez v. Westminster School District, Lorenzo and Josefina Ramirez v. El Modena School District, Thomas and Mary Louise Estrada v. Santa Ana School District, William and Virginia Guzman v. Santa Ana School District, and Frank and Irene Palomino v. Garden Grove School District. Marcus’ argument for the case was that the “[segregation of Mexican children was a violation of the equal protection of the clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Zonkel). Even though the Westminster School District argued that they used the “Mexican schools” to teach Mexicans English, Marcus pointed out that Mendez’s kids spoke more English than they did Spanish. He also said that the school district never offered any sort of proficiency test to see if they qualified for the “Mexican school”.

On February 18, 1946 the Senior District Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of Mendez. His ruling said that it was illegal for California’s schools to segregate students because it violated California law and the 14th Amendment. Even though the Westminster School District appealed to the US Court of Appeals, in April 1947, the court ruled in favor of upholding McCormick’s ruling. This case was significant because it set the precedent for future civil rights cases such as Brown vs. Board of Education that struck down Plessy vs. Fergusson’s “separate, but equal” and ended segregation nation wide in 1954.

Lau v. Nichols

In 1973 a petition was filed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the parents and students of the San Francisco Unified District after their case lost in the California courts. On January 21st, 1974 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lau in Lau v. Nichols. They stated that the San Francisco Unified District had violated the students 14th Amendment rights and the Bilingual Education Act. Just because a school provides students of different backgrounds with the same curriculum, supplies and teachers dose not mean the students receive the same quality education, especially if they don’t understand what is being taught. It also reinforced the idea that any institution receiving federal money must provide support for students with disadvantages so they could enjoy a quality education.

Lau v. Nichols was important because it set the expectations for all school districts receiving federal funding. The Lau Remedies were created as a direct response to define what the role of a school is in regard to language minority students: by specifying procedures for identifying language minority students; helped to determine what type of help would be appropriate for different students; determine when students are ready for the mainstream curriculum; set expectations for teachers and language minority students.

The 14th Amendment

On April 9, 1866 the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 officially titled as "An Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their vindication". It guaranteed the citizenship and equal protection under the law to everybody born in the United States.

Fearing that a future congress would repeal the act on July 9, 1868, the United States formally adopted the 14th Amendment which mirrored the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Thus solidifying the rights of African Americans, Native Americans, and people born on American soil.

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19th Amendment

Many states across the nation restricted women rights. although many women in the western portion of the US enjoyed voting rights, others in the eastern portion were restricted from voting. On August 19, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified and gave women across the nation the ability to vote.

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Same-Sex Marriage

On July 27, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages. This meant that a same-sex couple's union was recognized and protected across the nation.

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The United States has come a long way in protecting the civil rights of minority groups across the nation. While the world has come to embraces multiculturalism, we still fear that it will erase part of our American identity.