Volume 74, Number 5

November 1999

A Birthright Rearticulated: The Politics of Bilingual Education

Nirej Sekhon

This Note addresses Proposition 227, California’s recently enacted voter initiative banning bilingual education in public schools. Nirej Sekhon argues that the proposition functions rhetorically as a racially inflected exhortation to nonwhite peoples in the United States. The proposition equates American identity with white identity by claiming English as the birthright privilege of white Americans. As such, the proposition is continuous with the history of language and education politics in the United States. The author concludes by sketching the broad challenge that his analysis poses to current legal mechanisms.