What is an American?

Response to Chicago Tribune’s “Suspension over Speaking Spanish is Talk of the Town”

The suspension of a high school student for speaking Spanish should make all Americans question what being an American truly means (“Suspension over speaking Spanish is talk of the town,” Dec. 11).

Being an American cannot be degraded to simply speaking English at all times. The United States does not even have an official language, and several states are officially bilingual.

Being an American is much more, and it is based on accepting to live under the Constitution of this country. No where in the Constitution is there an article that demands American citizens give up their uniqueness in order to create a homogeneous populous. Keeping one’s cultural heritage alive will not take away from one’s ability to abide by the American Constitution and the laws derived from it.

In 1783 George Washington stated that American borders were open not just for the wealthy and educated, but also for the oppressed and persecuted from all nations and of all religions. These immigrants and their children would be free to enjoy all the rights and privileges of being Americans. He did not say that once in this country, they must sever from their past to be considered true Americans.

The United States is not a homogenous society and has never once been. What has made this country one is not a uniform culture, but a consistent acceptance of the Constitution as supreme law.