Monday, October 01, 2007

Ethnic diversity has no language

For some reason, whenever I'm in a foreign language class, I usually never think about race or ethnicity. I'm the kind of person who thinks about those things ALL the time (as you can tell by this blog!). But when I'm studying another language, I completely ignore it. I don't know why.

For the past few months, I've been taking French classes, and I just realized, whenever I'm in those classes, I don't pay attention to the ethnicities of my classmates. Usually when I'm in a class, what I always notice is the different races in the classroom. But for some reason, I don't pay attention to that when I'm in a French class. When I'm in a French class, the ideas of race and ethnicity just disappear, and everyone around me becomes the same thing: an English speaker learning French. Not an Asian, Black, or White English speaker; not a mixed-race English speaker; but...a human English speaker. Ancestry and heritage become meaningless, and I feel this strange hippie-Utopian bond with my classmates.

I don't know why I stop thinking about race when learning French. But I don't think it has anything to do with that language. It could be any language. My brother had a similar experience when he was in Japan learning Japanese. He told me that the people in his class came from all over the world, and they were from many ethnicities. Then he said something like, "we're all connected by the Japanese language." Actually, I just found the e-mail he sent me two years ago. Here's exactly what he said:

Somewhat interesting with my school is that they try to avoid a skewed representation of various backgrounds so that people come from different countries and would use Japanese as a common tongue. So there's a mix of Asian, European, American and even some black folks.

Now I'm starting to think there would be no racism if everyone on Earth spoke the same language. But what that language would be, I have no idea.


No comments: