Can’t speak Spanish? It’s ok.

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September 18, 2012 by rosaf15

Growing up, I had a difficult time understanding why many “Latinos” did not speak Spanish. I would judge non-Spanish speaking Latinos as people who were ashamed of their Hispanic culture and as people who thought they were “too good” to speak Spanish. But after witnessing my younger sister struggle to learn Spanish, my opinions began to change. Although my parents and I have tried to improve my sister’s Spanish, we cannot compete with the new culture she’s assimilating into. Since my younger sister has lived in the United States her entire live, she quickly learned English; leaving Spanish as her second and weakest language. Nevertheless, the inability to speak Spanish does not make my sister and other Latinos less Latino(a) than others.

Saying that your language, in this case Spanish, defines who you are is untrue. The Latino culture is a rich culture that consists of many characteristics and it is nearly impossible for one person to possess all the characteristics. Personally, I believe that in order to define oneself as Latino, one needs to maintain a high pride of the Hispanic culture and follow through with the morals and folkways of Latinos. Being Latino means that a person is willing to sacrifice anything for his/her family, including his/her own dreams. A Latino is a hardworking person that puts others before him/herself. A Latino is a dedicated person who respects and accepts people for who they are. Being Latino(a) means that one is willing to lend a helping hand to the Latino community.

Although the inability to speak Spanish may hinder a person from truly understanding the Hispanic culture, the language a person speaks has little influence in their Latino(a) identity. The way Latinos interact with each other varies throughout the Latino culture and speaking Spanish is only one of the many ways Latinos can relate to each other. Acknowledging one’s roots and embracing the Latin culture is what truly identifies a Latino(a) and not their ability to speak another language.

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