The Long Beach Language Access Coalition denounces the disrespectful messages posted on Twitter by the Long Beach Business Journal regarding the recent public-comment speakers for the minimum-wage policy.
The January 19 Long Beach City Council meeting was an impressive example of the value of democracy, community voice, and engagement in our civic process. Over fifty people spoke during the public comment for the item, all contributing to an important discussion on the impacts and nuances of raising the minimum wage.
During this process, multiple posts from the Long Beach Business Journal Twitter account bemoaned the practice that speakers of languages other than English were given double time for their testimonies and shamed them for not speaking English fluently.
This type of statement, especially coming from a respected news publication, is hateful and shameful. Doubling the time for a speaker of a language other than English to allow for accurate interpretation is equity in action. This practice allows people to express themselves in the language they are most comfortable in, and allows those who do not speak that language to hear their words interpreted. To allow extra time to hear someone’s voice should not be thought of as an inconvenience, but as an imperative.
We believe that Long Beach values diversity in many forms. Forty-five percent of Long Beach residents speak a language other than English at home, and nearly half of those residents do not consider themselves fully fluent in English. The city’s Language Access Policy exists to bridge the gap between government and residents by ensuring residents adequate time to express themselves and adequate resources to fully engage in the public process.
The Long Beach Language Access Coalition was formed in 2011 to help address the language access needs of Long Beach’s limited English speaking residents. The Coalition’s primary focus to date has been the adoption and implementation of a city-wide Language Access Policy in Long Beach. The Coalition won adoption of this Policy in 2013 and has been working since then on the implementation of and improvements to the Policy. Coalition members currently include the following community based organizations and their diverse clients and members: Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach; East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice; Families in Good Health/EM3 (Educated Men with Meaningful Messages); Filipino Migrant Center; Housing Long Beach; Khmer Girls in Action; Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles; and Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition.
 Source: 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-year estimates; 44.8% of Long Beach residents speak a language other than English at home; 19.7% of Long Beach residents speak English “less than very well”.