Authored by Diane Darcy
This article is a cultural artifact housed within the Arthur P. “Skip” Endres Collection owned by The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). Arthur Endres was an influential figure on immigration when he served as counsel for the House Judicatory Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law from 1973-1989. The collection consists of documents that Endres created or used during his tenure. It provides rare primary sources of how migration and refugee law was made and how that process might be improved for future generations of immigrants (CMS 2018).
First, some background is needed to depict the Dade County community around the time of the article. In 1959 Dade County was 5.9% Hispanic and by 1980 the county was 40% Hispanic. Non-Hispanic whites felt increasingly alienated from their Hispanic neighbors and threatened with the loss of community they had known (Greenspan 1994, 894-895). This article tells the story of two sisters, Beverly Barnes and Shirley Drayton who were denied employment to clean office buildings in Dade County, Florida, because they did not speak Spanish. It was deemed that the ladies must be hired and paid back wages by the Fair Housing and Employment Appeals Board. The decision was made due to a county ordinance that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of an individual’s national origin. Although the women were ultimately offered the jobs they originally applied for, they were no longer sure they wanted to work for the company. Statements such as “I wouldn’t be relaxed,” “I feel frightened,” and “I’d be scared to take a job from them,” is what they said after the decision was made.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines social justice as a state or doctrine of egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is defined as a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs (Merriam-Webster 2003). We are asked to look at our cultural artifact via the Vincentian lens of transparency to determine what objects should be preserved for the purpose of communicating human knowledge, and whose perspective am I representing in this blog post (Angel 2013). I am giving a voice to the two women who were discriminated against and those that helped them seek justice.
In regards to language, the United States has never had an official language. The founders debated it, but the idea was abandoned because Americans spoke so many languages that making English the only official one might be considered tyrannical – the reason many American residents had fled their home countries (Ordoñez 2017). Issues related to immigration, social justice, language and culture, will long be debated in the years to come.
Angel, Christine M. 2013. “Information Representation through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency: Providing the Under and Misrepresented with a Voice Within Our Cultural Heritage Records.” St. John’s University. Retrieved from stjohns.digication.com/christineangel/Evolution_of_My_Teaching_2013.
Center for Migration Studies. 2018. “Arthur P. (“Skip) Endres Papers, 1960-1980’s.” Accessed March 9, 2018. www.cmsny.org/archives/cms_105/
Greenspan, Donna M. 1994. “Florida’s Official English Amendment.” Nova Law Review 18, (2): 891-916. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nov.edu/nlr/vol18/iss2/7
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2003. Continually updated at https://www.merriam-webster.com/.
Ordoñez, Franco 2017. “Trump Fires up English-Only Debate with Missing Whitehouse.gov Spanish Page.” Miami Herald, January 23, 2017. Retrieved from www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article 128238959.html