Los Angeles Times

Encounters in viral videos show Spanish is still polarizing in the US

Natalia Meneses was shopping at a Walmart in Georgia this year when her 3-year-old daughter began a conversation that triggered an ugly experience.

The little girl did not blurt out a profanity or say anything else inappropriate. She simply pointed out flower hair clips to her mother: "Mira, Mami!"

Overhearing the conversation that ensued in Spanish between mother and child, a woman snapped at Meneses, a U.S. citizen who was born in Colombia.

"You need to teach this kid to speak English, because this is America and kids need to learn English," the woman said. "If not, you need to get out of this country."

An angry Meneses responded that both she and her daughter were American and spoke English.

Spanish, the first European language to take root in North America, has established itself as perhaps the most relentlessly polarizing language in the United States. Two decades ago

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