Photo by Jess Chen // North by Northwestern

NUCHR (NU Community for Human Rights) held their annual conference with a focus on Examining Language in the Framework of Human Rights this past week. Their closing keynote speaker, Ana Celia Zentella, a renowned anthro-political linguist on LatinU languages, spoke on how language intersects with politics and power.

She describes how people are racialized with language and how speaking English and being American have been immutably tied together. She dissects problematic practices such as the US Census labeling people as "linguistically isolated". She advocates for the linguistic ability of bilingual speakers who "have their feet in two worlds" and must learn to balance both. As per her closing remarks, the imperative is not to "speak english" but rather to foster greater linguistic tolerance, for "the American dream is not dreamt in English only".