By Rikki Yanez
Blog Content Contributor
Being Hispanic it’s automatically assumed we are fluent in Spanish, lazy, like to party often and aren’t very educated. However, that’s not the case when it comes to most Hispanic people, especially the young adults. Times are changing and most young adults in the Hispanic culture are pursuing educations in art, business, law and even the medical field. In today’s society, most Hispanic people work their hardest for the things they want in life. In our culture working hard is something we had to do over centuries in order to prove that we are capable of accomplishing things and not be seen as useless or as Donald Trump would say, “bad hombres.” However, one thing I have noticed that has to be stopped when it comes to the topic of being Hispanic is how we are shamed and categorized on how true of a Hispanic one is based on how fluent in Spanish they are.
Most of our grandparents and parents when they were younger were forced to speak and learn English in their schools, and if they didn’t, their teachers would punish them. In the worst case scenarios some students would drop out because they weren’t able to understand that material that was being taught. So today most Hispanic parents raise their children to speak English to avoid the hardships they went through in school. In my case, my parents spoke “Tex-Mex,” which is a combination of both the English and Spanish languages. Many teachers nowadays don’t really force students to speak in a specific language, so learning Spanish is seen as someone’s choice to do.
Although I know that I’m proud of where I come from and how my parents raised me, I still get questioned mostly by older people within my culture as to why I don’t speak Spanish. I noticed once I started working and going to college many people of the Mexican descent and other people of different ethnicities would assume that I knew Spanish or shame me for not knowing it. Some people would go as far as saying, “You’re Hispanic, you’re supposed to know Spanish!” I work at a hotel and usually during holidays many people traveling from Mexico ask me, “¿Hablas español?” to which I respond by saying, “No habla mucho, pero entiendo un poco.” I can understand enough Spanish to know what people are saying, yet even that does not suffice to them and to the older people in my culture. I think, Am I not a true Hispanic if I don’t speak fluent Spanish?
From my perspective, being Hispanic means you have to work twice as hard at everything whether it’s to prove that you can be hardworking and intelligent, or to prove that you can still be grounded to your roots despite not knowing the native language of your ancestors. Being shamed by other people because I don’t speak Spanish is something I’m not going to stand for anymore and neither should other Hispanics. It should be one’s choice to learn it or not. I am proud to grow up in such a beautiful culture, however times are changing and we are putting an end to the stereotypes and getting rid of negativity from others and people from my culture. All I have left to say is that I’m proud to be Hispanic and no one can tell me otherwise.
Featured image by Rikki Yanez.