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#1033: Miami-Dade OK's ballots in Creole: response to Poincy from Hermantin

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

In his response to my comments to the Miami-Dade County Board of 
Commissioners, supporting the translation of ballots in Creole, Mr Poincy 

"Feeling part of a community is a matter of how willing one is to intergrate 
him/herself in it. Doing so is not by holding tight to one's culture or 
language; rather by adapting oneself, in learning the language of that 
community learning how to read for that matter) and engage in its internal 
acitviies and be part of its reality."

Well Mr. Poincy let me remind you that the context is Miami-Dade County 
where the majority of those who go to the ballot box, the majority of those 
activily engaged in their community's civic life does not speak english. 
You've guessed it they are the cuban american viejitos, who vote 
religiously, but watch spanish TV listen to Spanish radio and read the El 
Nuevo Herald the Miami Herald' spanish version.

The non-english creole speakers do not as you imply, make a conscious 
decision not to learn english or to isolate themselves culturally. It's just 
hard for them to do anything other than holding down three jobs,attending to 
their parental responsabilities,ect... However, in spite of these barriers, 
I am pleased to inform you that the evening and day  adult schools serving 
the Haitian community are the best attended programs in the county. It is 
therefore, not a case for self-marginalization. They do try.

The other point I wish to make is that while language classes may help our 
folks acquire basic conversational proficiency, they will never reach the 
level fluency which may be needed to become fully engaged in the 
mainstream's civic discourse.

I will agree with you that the Creole ballot will not significantly help 
those who cannot read. When I was approached about this issue, I had 
suggested color-coded ballots. That alternative proved to be highly 

One of the points raised in the Herald article was that the estimated cost 
of the measure would amount to $64,000, including $42,000 for a full-time 
translator. His/her duties will include the translation of relevant county 
documents as well availability to serve as interpreter during county 
hearings and workshops. That Mr. Poincy heralds the beginning of a process 
which will encourage the non-english speaking illiterate individuals to go 
to city and county hall without fears of sounding like bumbling idiots to 
let elected officials know that "they are not in the rance with them":-)

Leonie M. Hermantin

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