Thursday, September 16, 2010
Dear Mexican: I work at a large Orange County hotel where 80 percent of the employees are Latin American, primarily Mexican. I love working with them. However, one thing that bothers me is that when they are speaking to each other, they only speak in Spanish. They do it in front of our customers and we have had some complaints. In addition, we have a break room with a television and they will always have it on the Spanish channel. Some will offer to change it when a non-Spanish speaking employee comes in, but for the most part, they don’t even offer. I’m a supervisor and feel that I should bring it to their attention how rude it can be but do not want to offend them. Is it rude for me to ask or do you believe I have a right to ask them to only speak English at work? --The English OnlySpeaking Employee
Dear Gabacho: Two separate concerns here: the public and private workplace. As a supervisor, you can make your employees hablar English while in front of customers and not risk a discrimination complaint (although I would tell your customers that, no, the Mexicans aren’t whispering about them. Probably discussing Chivas soccer). But ask them to switch off the Univisión for ESPN, and beware of federal precedent. A 2008 consent decree by the United States District Court in Massachusetts allowed the Salvation Army to require workers to speak English in front of customers, but also allowed foreign-language workers to use their native tongue while on break.
A large number of Mexican-Americans trace their ancestry back to west-central Mexico – Jalisco, Michoacán, and nearby. Well, these areas were never controlled by the Aztecs! So, how do Mexicans of other-than-Aztec ancestry feel about the constant Aztec symbolism in the national iconography – the eagle with a snake in its mouth, the Nahuatl words, and for that matter, the name of the country itself!? --Conozco Demasiado
Dear Know-A-Lot: Gracias for reminding gabachos that Mexican indigenous society isn’t just of Aztec ancestry. That said, we’re so far removed from the initial contact between the Aztecs and Spaniards that most non-Nahua Mexicans don’t give a segunda thought to the subsequent appropriation, integration, and propagation of Aztec imagery by criollos and mestizos while creating the Mexican national character.