This American Moment: Raul Yzaguirre

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Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

This has been a whirlwind election season. It's a unique moment in history, peppered with firsts, and it means different things to different people. Ever since the Democratic and Republican conventions, we've been asking politicians, artists, writers, scientists, thinkers, and theologians to take a step back and put this election, and campaign season, in context. It's part of our on-going series, "This American Moment."

Today, Raul Yzaguirre joins us. He is a civil rights leader, and the former president of the National Council of La Raza. We'll ask him what's at stake in this election, and whether he thinks the candidates have done enough to get the attention of Latino voters.

And, as always, we want to hear from you, too. What does this American moment mean to you?

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My background is that of an ESL teacher in Charlotte NC at the elementary school and community college levels; I am also a native of South Texas. I would like to emphasis the need for the Hispanic community to truly apply themselves to learning to speak English. Parents need to answer honestly to the question of "is English the primary language spoken at home." Children will not receive ESL services if parents answer yes to that question. As a result children are placed in classes where they do not understand what is being taught. This results in countless problems for the school and community. As for adult ESL learning to speak English for a restaurant or construction job does not equate with fluency in a language. I would like to see more Hispanics involved in sincerely learning to speak English for their own advancement as well as for the benefit for the entire community. And there are countless opportunities for free English classes.

Sent by Catherine Goldthorn | 3:06 PM | 9-25-2008

I am a Ukraine born immigrant to this country. My entire family is. Not a single member of my immediate family was born in this country. However, all of us share the frustration of the "native" Americans about the English language issue. America is an English speaking country, or at least was. Why do we have to accommodate the people who choose not to learn the language? We had to learn the language when we moved here, why is it the Spanish speaking populace can't do the same? Spanish is a lot closer to English then Russian is. I have never seen anyone bending over backwards for my 70 year old grandmother to accommodate her language requirements or shortcomings, they always have to call me and I have to translate. Since this country is so interested in equality, when we call customer service, the message should include all languages of the world, not 1 for English. 2 for Spanish.

and don't get me started on jobs looking for bilingual workers.... what a crock, no one is looking for a bi-lingual person who speaks Russian and English.

Sent by Artem Moiseyenkov | 3:08 PM | 9-25-2008

The racism aimed at Latinos is in large part that they are the inheritors of the blood of the people "illegally deported", murdered and forced off their lands. Their faces haunt the majority population.

Sent by Chris Gray | 3:09 PM | 9-25-2008

I have listened to several of your callers and your guest. Like the caller from NY the presence of Spanish on every label and on the phone when you press one for English( we only have two options also-English or Spanish) concerns me. I heard the guest say that Latinos are more American than Americans, more family oriented, more religious, harder workers. I could not disagree more. I have been upset on occasions when Latinos think the Mexican flag should be flown above the American(at a rally in California) and push Americans to change because they are here in such large numbers. There have been many immigrants to this country, but I have never seen these groups push so hard to have this Country bend to their cultures. I also believe, if you want to be a legal resident of America, you should go through the process and learn what we stand for and not just get a free pass. Millions have gone through already.
America is America, we do welcome all comers but we want those here to appreciate the opportunities we offer and not just take them for granted.

Sent by marty Penwick | 3:21 PM | 9-25-2008