When I say Spanish, I mean the language.
Growing up bilingual was not easy. The first language I learned was Spanish. For the most part, my family spoke Spanish. The only person that I was capable of speaking English with was my mom. I eventually learned English when I was enrolled in school, at the age of three. Sure, I was very young and my mind was in a position that could retain a lot of information–but being put in school at an early age does not signify that learning a language would be easy. Learning a language is more than learning a language within a learning environment. One needs to emerge themselves in the culture and, essentially, speak the language for the majority of the time, in order to be able to claim that learning a language is easy. But, growing up in a Latinx family there is no ability to speak any other language than Spanish. Having said this, I must address an assumption that may arise: Hispanic families prevent children from succeeding in their education by not allowing them to speak English at home. Having said this, I must address an assumption that may arise: Hispanic families prevent children from succeeding in their education by not allowing them to speak English at home. Errr! Wrong! It is absurd to assume that parents would choose to restrict the education of their children. Personally, my family always put education first. My mom always motivated me to put my education first. However, from a young age, I understood what respect meant–that isn’t to say that there weren’t times in which I slipped.
Errr! Wrong! It is absurd to assume that parents would choose to restrict the education of their children. Personally, my family always put education first. My mom always motivated me to put my education first. However, from a young age, I understood what respect meant–that isn’t to say that there weren’t times in which I slipped.
A vivid memory that I have from my childhood is one involving my mom, grandma, and myself. This memory is the moment in which I learned about respect. My mom had just come home from work to find my grandma and I sat the dining table. I began speaking to her in English while knowing that my grandma was there. My mom didn’t have it for one minute. She turned to me and said, “When you are around her, you speak Spanish. Don’t exclude.” I knew of her presence but, as a child, it is hard to understand why it was disrespectful to have a two-person English conversation when there were three people. I felt hurt by having my mom call me out but she was right. It was rude of me to exclude someone, especially since I had the ability to speak a language that everyone could understand. I didn’t consider how I was making my grandma feel. I was selfish and childish, but I learned.
Speaking multiple languages is a tool and a privilege. It is the ability to translate words, phrases, sayings, etc. in an instant. Although I will stutter and mumble when speaking either language, I am glad to be able to speak to languages. I am given the possibility of speaking with double the number of people. I can learn more stories and interact with my family… this is something I forgot a few years back. I forgot how beautiful the Spanish language is. I became consumed with what society was teaching people my age. I began to feel ashamed for speaking Spanish which sounds ridiculous. But, that is what happens when you are surrounded by media and popular culture that is European obsessed. You begin to think that you are lesser. You get obsessed with these ideas when you are young because you don’t understand the beauty of a culture and the importance of loving oneself.
Which brings me to my final point that made me write this post, language is a representation and celebration of a culture. The thing about growing up is that you learn more and more about who you are. Therefore, I believe education is a fundamental necessity that should be at liberty to any person that chooses to/ desires to attain. No child should feel like they are not good enough because of who they are. Although my family never stopped showing me our culture and language, I became conflicted because society didn’t agree with what I was being taught at home. It did take a bit of time to learn that Latinxs are kickass and inspirational, but that is the trick to overcoming the beliefs of society: time and knowledge. The older I get, the more classes I take about Latinx culture, and the more I hang out with my family, simply inspire me to be the best kickass Latina that I can be.