During a Black Friday trip to a Walmart in Appleton Wisconsin, Jasmine Xiong and her mother were having a private conversation in Hmong, their native language. However, another woman overheard them and felt she had to say something. The shopper says “speak the language” to the women. They recorded the encounter.
In confronting the two women, the shopper says to speak the language “if you live here in America.” Presumably, she means English. However, English is not actually recognized as America’s official language. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 350 distinct languages are spoken throughout the United States.
Even though the shopper was willing to admit that she was not part of the conversation and that she had no right to butt in, that did not stop her from sharing her opinions on two women speaking their native tongue in public. After the conversation continued, Jasmine began recording with her phone.
As a counterargument, Jasmine and her mother asked if she would speak Hmong if she visited their home. The woman said she would only do that if she lived there. When Jasmine and her mother asked if the woman would speak the language of a country she travelled to, the woman said she was learning Spanish.
Jasmine and her mother asked the woman to speak the language she claimed to be learning. The only demonstration the woman was willing to offer was the simple act of counting to ten in Spanish. The woman then appears to become agitated, telling the woman to “stop yelling at her.”
Jasmine posted the video on Facebook and it has since received over 400 000 views. The video has also been shared over 3500 times. Jasmine stated that she was “shocked and upset and offended” by the encounter and that it “really took [her] by surprise.” The woman in the video has not been identified.
The Hmong people first came to America during the Vietnam War. Faced with ethnic cleansing, the first wave of Hmong people arrived in the 1970s under the Refugee Assistance Act of 1975. The greatest concentration of Hmong people is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Hmong language is spoken by roughly 200 000 people in the United States.
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