Tag Archives: privilege

Language Barriers, Introversion, and the Status of English

There are many practical difficulties involved in trying to function day-to-day in a language that you don’t speak or understand well, even if you speak or understand a little. There’s ordering in restaurants and making sure you got the right change at the grocery store, of course. And things get additionally complicated when you are trying to get a mobile phone or talk to a potential landlord. 

But there’s problems that arise that don’t necessarily seem obvious on the surface, and I’ll venture to say that they are additionally stressful if you are naturally pretty introverted and are taxed by social interactions in general. If you add a dose of needing a bit too badly for every single person to like you and judge you kindly to that, it’s even worse. Because going out every day and living life in a country where you can’t communicate all that well means learning to cope with the fact that you are going to sometimes be perceived as unintelligent, that people are going to get frustrated with you, and that you aren’t going to be able to read people and adapt to interpersonal interactions in the way that you are used to. 

I learned enough Russian before coming here to make life significantly easier than if I hadn’t. But because of lack of exposure to native speakers and my learning style, I read and write it a lot better than I speak and understand it. So over the past few days, virtually every time someone has come at me in Russian, I’ve just sort of frozen and either looked at the person accompanying me or stammered out, “Я не говорю по-русский” (I don’t speak Russian). I’m assured that this will improve substantially in a few months time. But in the meantime, it takes a little bit extra effort to go do normal stuff because in addition to the hassles of trying to communicate, I have to confront a sense of exposure, vulnerability, and ineptitude that is distinctly uncomfortable. I suppose that’s what makes this a character-building experience.

I have to keep in mind, however, that English is in many ways an aspirational language. In just a few days, I’ve had multiple Russians tell me I don’t really need much Russian to get by and to express wonder that more young people in this country don’t learn it. I was hired to help Russian college students become better writers in English because it’s a critical competency that they need if they want to enter the international academic and business communities. “English is the language of the world,” one person–who speaks five languages–said in response to my lament that American students receive relatively little foreign language education.

It’s perhaps for that reason that my interactions with Russians have involved more confusion and awkwardness than outright hostility (though I’m sure there will be some of that eventually). No one on Russian television has said that these Americans should learn Russian or go back to their own country. And while xenophobia is a thing here and there surely are those who hold that sentiment, I think that does suggest something about the relative privilege native English-speakers experience.

David Sedaris said in one of his books that there are two types of French: hard French and easy French. Hard French involves the conjugation of verbs and memorization of vocabulary. Easy French is just English spoken slowly and loudly in a French person’s face. The sense of entitlement that informs Easy French isn’t something I identify with. And that’s not because I’m such a good person. It’s because I am an awkward person who cares too much about what people think of me. Still, this experience makes me think about the foreign visitors and immigrants and exchange students I’ve encountered back in the U.S. who have had very little English and the exasperated attitudes I’ve heard expressed by all sorts of people, including fellow educators. It sucks to think that I might be the target of that sort of hostility, even if it isn’t expressed.

So, if you encounter someone who doesn’t speak English (or whatever) all that well, consider that this is a person who is not just struggling with the inconvenience of trying to get stuff done. Recall that this is a person who may also be experiencing a very profound sense of alienation from other human beings due to the difficulty of reading other people’s intonations and moods, of feeling heard and understood and not judged. This is not (necessarily) an unintelligent or lazy person. Learning a new language is hard and takes a long time (and English is a monster), and this person just needs some signals that you are on their side. It makes a big difference when someone else is willing to laugh at the awkwardness and just bumble along with you and point you in the right direction in a non-condescending way. 

Why Do They Care About Grades So Much?

At the end of every semester, I hold what I cheekily call my “group therapy session” about grades.  For about 20-30 minutes on one of the last days of class, I go over how I calculate grades, appropriate ways for students to talk to me about grades, and what frame of mind they should bring to their grades as they view and think about them.  In order to combat the inevitable anxiety, I usually say a few words about how employers generally don’t care so much about grades earned in lower division courses, that the difference between a B and an A in a sophomore level lit class doesn’t mean a whole lot in the long run.  Then, one of my innately brightest students (who also struggled that semester for a variety of reasons) called me on what he pretty accurately judged was a bunch of happy horseshit.  “The difference between an A and a B,” he said, “is the difference between Flagship State University Law School and Regional College Law School.”  And you know what, he sort of has a point.

I’ve written before on this blog about grade grubbing, and given where we are in the semester, just a few weeks before midterms (how is it October already?), it’s no surprise that conversations about student laziness, excuses, “snowflakiness,” and sense of entitlement to unearned grades are starting to pop up on academic sites.  Though really, as someone who actually did get mono during exam week as an undergraduate, someone whose grandmother did pass away during the final week of classes just two years ago, and someone who had a student nearly die due to a chronic illness last term, I have this to say to the haters:  Don’t be a douchebag.  Treat claims of illness and family emergency as legitimate unless you know for sure that they aren’t.  Don’t treat these things as an occasion for a free pass, but help students work through the situation in a way that satisfies requirements for successful completion of the course without, you know, sending them into therapy, prompting them to quit school, or compromising their health.

But back to grade-grubbing:   I wonder if we, as instructors, spend so much time complaining about the way they expect awesome grades for merely average work and treat instructors like magical A-dispensers, that we’re missing a bigger point about the pressures that students face in a vastly more competitive and ever-shrinking labor market.  I wonder if we are too quick to explain this behavior away as selfishness, immaturity, and the result of a consumer-based education system that we miss the fact that such behavior may, in fact, be a rational response to the shrinking of opportunities for all but the most exalted (not to mention well-connected) individuals.

My extended family members are frequently astounded by my generation’s approach to education.  On both my mother’s and father’s side, their generation was the first to ascend to the middle class.  My father’s parents had no college education.  My mother’s father went to college–much later than the traditional student–after the Korean War, on the GI bill.  Both of my parents and all of their siblings, by contrast (there are 9 of them, total), have at least some college education.  Many of them have graduate degrees, and most of them own their own businesses or occupy senior management positions in national corporations.  But most of them will confess to having spent their teenage years in a state of total rebellion, not really giving a flying frack about grades.  Most of them scored about 1000 on their SATs (I know that scores are inflated now) and still got into the best two public universities in the state.  A few of them dropped out of college for various reasons and then returned to get their degrees.  I doubt that my grandparents were really thrilled about that, but they accepted it and seemed to manage the expense of those lost years without too much trouble.  My father put himself through medical school, which cost less than $1000 a year in the early 80’s. I say this all just to point out that the costs and outcomes of higher education are, by all measures, changing radically and rapidly.

The grandchildren–my generation–were all raised to care intensely about performance in school.  Part of that increased emphasis on getting good grades was, I think, a result of generational differences in parenting, but it also seems to have been an acknowledgment of the shift in college admissions standards and the fact that a college education is now compulsory for anyone hoping to make a middle class income in adulthood.  My sisters and I all scored 1300 and above and still sweated about getting in to the very same universities our parents sailed into without a worry with much lower grades and test scores.  College admissions have gotten ridiculously competitive, resulting in what is, effectively, the professionalization of the teenage years, when every class and every extracurricular experience is carefully selected based on how it will look on a transcript or a resume, when students are increasingly encouraged to begin thinking about college in middle school, when top high schools routinely engage in the practice of grade inflation in order to give their students an edge.

This is a system in which it becomes very difficult to learn how to deal with struggles and failures, because you can’t afford to have them. In my junior year of high school, my grades began to slip, not because I was lazy or unmotivated but because I was mired in an undiagnosed and untreated depression, a slip that most certainly cost me my top choice college.  The teenage years are fraught with experimentation, crisis, and yes, failure, and those are all experiences that contribute to adult growth, but the consequences of that period is frequently so dire and unacceptable that it’s sort of no wonder that students begin looking for dishonorable but frequently effective ways mitigate those consequences.

Much of this thinking is catastrophizing.  Plenty of people make B’s in various classes and move on to gainful employment.  Plenty of people drop out of college and return.  Plenty of people do not get into their first choice college or law or medical school and have rewarding careers.  But students occupy a space that is part alternate reality and part actual reality, a space in which the stakes for being slightly less than extraordinary increasingly feel bleak.  Middle class wealth is shrinking, not growing.  The only group that continues to get richer is the superstars, the celebrities, the CEO’s, and many students still operate under the assumption that the U.S. economy is a meritocracy, that brilliant grades and admission to a top business or law school signify entitlement to all of the riches the world has to offer and that all they need to do is keep presenting the case that they are meritorious (even if they aren’t) and the rewards will follow.  My grandparents aspired to join the middle class back when it really was something to aspire to.  Now, increasingly, it isn’t.

So why do they care about grades so much?  Because they think they have to.  That’s not a call for instructors to indulge them in their quest for unearned rewards, but it is a call for empathy and a call for those of us who have the opportunity to intercept these kids at a particularly delicate time to help them successfully enter adulthood, to educate them about how to manage setbacks responsibly.

Why I’m Not Proud of You For Correcting Other People’s Typos

Cover for The Great Typo HuntAfter the title of the blog, the number one Google search that brings people to this site is some variant of the question:  “Is there a name for people who correct other people’s grammar?”  Well, in a professional setting, we call them copy editors.  When they are correcting your adverb usage at cocktail parties, we call them douchebags.  When they are traveling the United States correcting typographical errors on signs, I guess we can now call them published authors. When I first saw the Salon interview of Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, authors of The Great Typo Hunt, I had every intention of reading the book in its entirety and reviewing it for this blog, but all signs are pointing to that not happening anytime soon.  I do, however, have thoughts about said interview, the project itself, and the blog on which it is based, so I am going to comment generally here and delve into the finer points once my schedule clears up a bit.

In the wake of this post (which remains the top post on this blog more than two months later–go figure), I think I’ve been labeled by some as a kind of devil-may-care descriptivist when it comes to language.  I am a descriptivist, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think that the spelling and grammar rules we have agreed upon as a linguistic group aren’t worth anything.  They help us understand one another, and I do actually think it is worthwhile to strive for fluency (which is NOT the same thing as grammatical correctness), especially if your livelihood depends on written communication.  Avoiding typos and improper usage (as well as needlessly tortured sentence structures and opaque jargon) bespeaks professionalism and pride in one’s work.  I have worked as a copy editor before and am actually pretty damn good at it.

But I am led to ask the following question:  why would anyone take a cross-country trip for the sole purpose correcting typos when they are not being paid to do so?  Furthermore, why are so many people ready to give these guys medals for doing so?  Why is it that some feel that usage errors are a Huge Social Problem in need of fixing, and why do some also seem to feel that they are a kind of personal affront?  Let’s take the precipitating event of Deck’s project, described here by the Salon interviewer:

In November of 2007, Jeff Deck encountered a sign that would change his life. He had just returned from his five-year college reunion at Dartmouth College, embarrassed by his lack of accomplishment in life, when, walking near his apartment in Somerville, Mass., he encountered a sign that had already stopped him in his tracks multiple times: “Private Property: No Tresspassing.” The extra “s” in the sign had, as he puts it, long been “a needle of irritation” — but now something had changed: He felt the urgent need to correct it.

There is, needless to say, a lot going on there, and the interviewer seems to have cannily hinted at the insecurities that may have informed Deck and Herson’s epic journey:  the sense that degrees in the arts and humanities (Deck was a creative writing major) have  lost their relevance, the reality that even elite educations do not guarantee work that is both remunerative and soul satisfying, and, perhaps, the usual quarter-life crisis, the late twenties malaise that sets in when one realizes that one has not yet Made a Difference or even come close to achieving what one set out to do senior year in college.

At bottom, though, I think the impulse to correct proceeds from Rule-Follower Angst:  you have done everything (or everything that counts) right and have not been rewarded in the way you expected.  The wicked still prosper.  Out there, people are breaking the rules and getting away with it. On some level, the correcting impulse is about Being Right and making sure that people know it, and as snotty as this paragraph is, I sort of understand it.  But I also understand that this sort of behavior tends to drive people away, and for good reason.  And as the interviewer rather amusingly notes, there are often problematic privilege differentials at work:

It can seem pretty condescending to be correcting typos, in particular when a lot of the people responsible for them are probably immigrants still learning English.

I think the capacity for cruelty is just too much when you’re going after people writing in English as their second language — my French would be lucky if it were at that level of semi-comprehensibility — so we tried to stay away from those. But even with that aside, socioeconomics are definitely a factor to consider and we had to be sensitive to that.

Especially given that you’re two white guys with university education.

Heh.  To their credit, Deck and Herson seem to be sensitive to their positionality and to the educational deficiencies that wanton mis-spellings and eggcorns can betray.  It’s just that when it comes to their assessment of how exactly the educational system is failing some people, they seem to be rather aggressively missing the point:

Over the past several decades, there’s been a definite move away from phonics-based education in spelling and grammar — which ties the sight and sound of words very closely together — toward what’s sometimes called the “whole word method,” which is based more on the sight of words. With phonics you learn to sound out the parts of each word and then put them together, instead of the guesswork that’s involved in the “whole word” approach.

There was an interesting book that my co-author Benjamin discovered as we were on our typo hunt, called “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” from around 1955. The author talked about some of the most common types of errors out there, like double-letter confusion: “timming” instead of “timing,” and “shiping” instead of “shipping.” It had this whole list of common typos, and a lot of them were the same ones we saw on this trip.

T-shirt that reads:  Hookt on Fonix Werkt Fer Me!There’s a lot of fail in these two paragraphs.  First of all, I guess both authors were living under a rock for the duration of the 90’s and never saw the T-shirt to the left.  Actually, that’s a cheap shot, but I couldn’t resist.  In fact, there is substantial evidence that an education that includes Phonetic Awareness Instruction is more effective at teaching children to read and spell than education that excludes it.  The problem is that Deck and Herson have deputized a book from 1955 into their argument.  Their answer suggests that Rudolf Flesch’s observations in Why Johnny Can’t Read were completely ignored at mid-century, when in fact that text was very successful.  Phonics did re-enter the standard curriculum and wasn’t really challenged until the “whole language” approach was introduced in the 1980’s.  Even then, phonics has never dropped out of elementary school curricula entirely, as this has been a contentious subject in pedagogical and linguistic circles ever since, with a comprehensive review of studies on the subject only having been conducted at the beginning of this decade.  In other words, Deck and Herson have no way of knowing if the people who committed the typos they traveled the country to correct were taught via phonics or whole language or some combination of methods.  In fact, there is a fair chance (given the chronology), that most people over the age of 30 were never touched by the whole word catastrophe that Deck and Herson point to as the root cause of our language woes.

There’s no denying that there are vast deficiencies in our educational system, but in order to get at those, we have to go past the phonics debate and look at the structural relationship between poverty and illiteracy, the deterioration of schools in poor neighborhoods, state and local governments that continue to drain money from public education, the shortage of qualified teachers, and other ways in which class, race, and geography function as barriers to education and functional literacy.  Deck and Herson address some of that, but when you look at the problem in that way, running around the country correcting typos on signs seems pitifully ineffectual as a means of correcting or even bringing attention to the problem.  It’s treating the symptoms and ignoring the disease.  It’s hacking away at the tip of the iceberg or whatever tortured metaphor you please.  Worse, it’s a self-serving stunt.

So no, guys, I’m not proud of you for correcting other people’s typos.  If the goal was get yourself published, then congrats, but in terms of addressing any larger problem, it’s pretty sad.

Addendum:  I’ve been skimming through the online preview of the book, and some of the prose is just, well…I’ll let you see for yourself:

I discussed my cross-country typo-hunting notion with barely anyone, cradling it close and secret lest the scrutiny of others burn mortal wounds into its gossamer body.

Yikes.  I don’t think I have another Lionel Tiger dissection in me right now, but let’s hit the high points:  “notion” seems to be in keeping with the affected, overwrought diction that infects everything I’ve read so far.  “Cradling it close and secret” is just flat-out awkward, and, come to think of it, should read “closeLY and secretLY” (not that the correction would improve it all that much).  And the metaphor at the end there made me die a little bit inside.

Addendum 2:  Deck and Herson once got arrested for correcting typos on defacing a historical artifact in Grand Canyon National Park.  Way to go.

Today in Cognitive Dissonance: Graduate School and the Market

Zuska has a thoughtful post up about  the influence of advertisers at ScienceBlogs.  I’m not really interested in blog monetization just yet, but I found this particular statement to be particularly quote-worthy:

If an enterprise like ScienceBlogs cannot be funded except by taking money from sources that you and I, Dear Reader, deem offensive and unethical – why should I continue to contribute? I think this is another version of skeptifem’s question. I will rephrase it for my own purposes, more generally, thus:

How are we to live in this world when every action we take is tainted by some sort of injustice, some infliction of injury-at-a-distance? (and sometimes not so distant.)

I don’t know. It’s nearly impossible. Tread as lightly as one can. Each person has to decide where the breaking point is for her or himself. Pal’s or Grrl’s may come sooner than mine. Without a job, ScienceBlogs is like my workplace, where I hang out at the water cooler and catch up on the gossip. I am loathe to lose that, even though my primary care physician told me pointedly at my last visit that caffeinated sugary beverages are the devil’s drink. And their decaf, no-cal substitutes are no better, she added. Water! Pure clear water from the tap for you! she commanded.

I often feel like the blogosphere, graduate school, and academic careers are packaged as spaces that are somehow free from the market, unfettered by corporate influence and therefore “pure” in a way that, I don’t know, financial planning is not.  In yesterday’s Tales From the Writing Center, I think I revealed a little bit of my rancor toward the mammoth business school at my university, because it gets so much goddamn attention and resources.  Seriously, I work in a building that hasn’t been renovating since the Nixon administration, and their study areas are like palaces, PALACES I tell you.

So, in some ways, my snobbery toward business school is an effort to reduce cognitive dissonance, to prove that I made the Right Choice because graduate school is a place that produces pure-hearted lovers of literature and lefty politics and business school produces evil corporate overlords.  It’s about my desire to believe that this choice–which places me considerably behind those business school graduates in terms of present and future income–makes me a Good Person, a person who will not go on to exploit employees or trash the environment or perpetuate the suffering of women of color in the third world.  I probably don’t need to tell my readers just how naive and arrogant this attitude is.  For one thing, universities are basically corporations these days, and it does me no good to pretend like I won’t ever be complicit in that system.  But even more importantly, my ability to attend graduate school, to pay for graduate school, to even conceive of the possibility of going to graduate school is predicated on privilege, and it’s delusional to pretend otherwise.  Pursuing academics or even art as a career does not exempt you from systems of privilege and exploitation (and the illusion that it can may be part of the reason why so many graduate students and adjuncts are themselves willing to tolerate a certain amount of exploitation) nor does it give you access to some pure, untainted Life of the Mind, as Thomas Benton at the Chronicle of Higher Education has said:

Graduate school may be about the “disinterested pursuit of learning” for some privileged people. But for most of us, graduate school in the humanities is about the implicit promise of the life of a middle-class professional, about being respected, about not hating your job and wasting your life. That dream is long gone in academe for almost everyone entering it now.

Now, I do think that some of the hand-wringing about the state of the academic job market obscures the fact that finding a job sucks for everyone right now. There has never been a worse time to graduate with a college degree, much less a post-graduate degree.  My brother-in-law who has both a law and an accounting degree (and a sextuple-digit debt load) was recently laid off and is trying to establish a private practice along with my sister, who also has an accounting degree.  He will tell you that just about anybody in their garage can get accredited as a law school these days and that–as with Ph.Ds in the Humanities–these schools are churning out far more lawyers than the market can possibly support. In some areas of the country, lawyers are taking clerking jobs at $20,000 a year with no benefits just to be “doing something with their law degree.”

However, graduate school seems to be particularly problematic in the way it frames what is (and frankly should be) the pursuit of remunerative work as a pledge of loyalty and sacrifice for something greater (and those sacrifices are frequently real, as when my university demanded that I pay $1200 in tuition in order to make $2300 as a research assistant this summer, even though I’m taking no classes).  In many ways, it reminds me of what my uncle says about seminary.  Having grown up in a highly religious part of the country, attending Evangelical High, I know quite a few people who have attended the seminary in my hometown.  Keep in mind, this isn’t one of those Ivy League Modernist Divinity Schools but rather Bastion of Southern Fundamentalist Seminary.  My uncle is the former admissions director and is now the dean of something or other.  I think that the reasons many of these twenty-somethings went straight from college to seminary are similar to the reasons many twenty-somethings wind up in grad school:  it sounds like an honorable living, we feel–perhaps–a sense of calling, we like school and are interested in furthering our education, etc.  But many seminary students get tricked into believing that the ministry is also strangely “outside the market,” that it is a place where one can pursue a Life of the Spirit.

Now, one might think–given the rate of growth among evangelical congregations these days, that many of these seminary students would be just fine.  But while these congregations are expanding, the number of well-paying church jobs out there remain decidedly few.  The celebrity pastors who bring in seven figures on book tours and lecture circuits are to the average seminary student what professional athletes are to the average high school athlete.  Furthermore, many of those celebrity pastors became such by a curious combination of luck, charisma, and business acumen, not because of how well they translate Hebrew and Greek.

My uncle’s son (my cousin), like many young Christian men who grow up in this environment and spend their summers as camp counselors, wanted to be a youth or music minister.  It was his father’s unhappy job to point out the fact that youth and music ministers have a pretty short self-life, since most of the big, ultra-hip churches aren’t interested in hiring 50 year olds to do those jobs.  What my uncle and some other honest folks in this line of work have repeatedly said is that it is possible to have a spiritual life without committing oneself with to the ministry.  And, in fact, I know plenty of former pastors who went into the ministry because they felt compelled to and then burned out hard ten years in only to find that their spiritual lives were improved when they no longer carried the burden of having to be an “example” for their congregations and when they were free to struggle with spirituality far from the judgment of parishioners. I believe that the same is true of the Life of the Mind.

Living in a way that is 100%congruent with one’s intellectual, spiritual, or political ideals is nearly impossible today, as Zuska says, we have to negotiate our boundaries.  When I’m not feeling bitter about the fact that some professor at the business school is kind of a douchebag about the humanities, I’m able to acknowledge that it is possible to live an intellectually and spiritually fulfilling life, even a life that is based on altruism and compassion, with a business degree, but you have to try.  Furthermore, it is possible to life a stultifying and spiritually vacant life based on selfishness and assholery with a graduate degree in the humanities or a degree from seminary.  Pursuing a particular academic path or a particular career does not make you a good person and should never allow you to feel comfortable with your particular place in systems of privilege.  No matter where you are, if you want to live a life of compassion of idealism of fulfillment and of change, you have to really, really try.

You Don’t Get to Talk About Immigration Without Talking About Race

On television, on the internet, from members of my family, I keep hearing things like:

“I’m just concerned about the rule of law.”

“I’m just concerned about the drain on our resources.”

“I’m just concerned about the impact on our school system.”

“I’m just concerned that their children won’t have the English skills to succeed.”

Statements like these are usually preceded or followed with some variant of, “It’s not about race.”


We do not ever, EVER get to talk about the U.S.-Mexico border without talking about race. We do not ever get to talk about immigration without talking about race. We do not ever get to talk about second language issues, especially pertaining to Spanish/English, without also talking about race. Why? Because race is a part of the history of The Border, just as it is a part of the history of slavery, of the Holocaust, of the War on Terror, of apartheid, of North American Indian Reservations, and of Jim Crow. It is, in the broadest sense, part of the history of the Western Hemisphere. It is a history in which light-skinned European adventurers came to this hemisphere and displaced, enslaved, and exterminated millions of indigenous people because of greed, because of hubris, because of religion, and because of race, because they believed that the people they found here were less human than they were.

This is not a history in which you personally took part. Your family may not have been directly responsible for perpetuating those insidious crimes. This is not a history that you can go back and erase or ameliorate. It simply is. It simply is a history that resulted in Person A having a nice house in the suburbs and shopping at Whole Foods and Person B enduring a poverty so crushing that they would risk life and limb and personal liberty in order to mow the lawn and clean the house and diaper the children of Person A and harvest the produce that is sold at Whole Foods, making an hourly wage that is less than what Person A spent on coffee this morning. And it is a history in which Person A can say, without paying very many social penalties, that the problem with Person B is that she did not respect the law and hasn’t worked hard enough to perfect his English.

That’s called Privilege. If you are Person A, it is not something that you can relinquish, but it is something that you can be a total dick about if you aren’t careful. And given the history I just described, I have to say that when you say stuff like,

“It’s not about race, I just can’t understand what they’re saying.”

“It’s not racial profiling. I don’t even know what an immigrant looks like!”

You sound fucking ridiculous.

I know you probably weren’t thinking about race when you said it. I know you believe that deep down inside you really don’t harbor any ill will toward those who look and speak differently from you. I know that from your perspective, race probably doesn’t have a lot to do with anything. But that’s because in the Historical Lottery, you hit the genetic jackpot. Whether you are aware of your privilege or not, you have cashed in on it. You benefit from the historical inequities I described, and while that doesn’t mean that I think you should hand over your suburban home to an immigrant family, I do think that you should shut the fuck up until you’ve done a lot of reading and a bit of introspection on the issue.

I’m just saying.

*This post is not directed at any of the commentariat here. It is the product of an ongoing fight with a family member and the headache-inducing results of typing in “accent discrimination arizona” into Google in order to research this post.