Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Different View of Kansas in the NY Times

Last May, my wife and I were in Liberal for the high school graduation of a former student. Her family was not able to get work in the U.S, but they were able to move her up with an aunt in KC. So she left them behind as a young teen and went to a new world. After a few years she fell for a guy and decided to get married. She followed him to Liberal to live with him and his family. Since she had no one else, we decided to support her at her graduation.

This story is about the large and still growing Hispanic community in Liberal and all of southwest Kansas.

For Latinos in the Midwest, a Time to Be Heard

"By 2000, the Latino share of the population of this town of 20,000 had quadrupled to 43 percent from 10 percent in 1980, reflecting a pattern throughout southwest Kansas.

"'They came to fill important jobs in the community and work, and people in our world respect hard workers,' said Donald D. Stull, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas who has studied the demographic changes across the region.

"Liberal got its name, the story goes, from the generosity of its founder, S. S. Rogers, who would give out water to settlers passing through. That welcoming spirit pervaded many prairie towns and continues to some extent today.

"Still, many people here who are not Hispanic take offense at the waving of foreign flags — during the rally here a few carloads of young white men drove past pointedly brandishing American flags — and chafe at hearing so much Spanish spoken on the streets. . . . "

1 comment:

The Girl in Black said...

And until the redneck white kids find something besides drugs to do in small towns and southwest Kansas, they'll continue to complain about migrant influx.

I don't feel it is as simple as one ethincity needing to be heard. Americans, on the whole, feel that immigrants need to conform to "our" standards. Regardless of the fact that America was founded by those seeking freedom and success on their own terms.

My son's generation has grown up with nothing but entitlement. They know no other life other than you must have cable TV, mobile communication, transportation for all family members. There is no need to learn anything but English in school, since it is considered the universal language.

That kind of narrow-mindedness makes me sick. When you travel abroad, you realize that children grow up learning multiple languages, simultaneously.

I asked a Dutch local one time if he was offended by that mandate. He said it really isn't an issue for other countries, because it broadens their exposure to entertainment and business.

After the World Trade Center hijacks and bombing, I remembered his statement. America is just the new punk on the block. We don't have any right or street cred to be going around, bullying our beliefs onto others.

Unfortunately, mine is a miniority opinion. Much as is being a heathen, liberal, woman in a red state.