September 19, 2012 by bramirezgalaviz1
As English becomes more of a necessity in our daily lives, more and more Latinos are getting accustomed to speaking English instead of Spanish. But we are not to blame, it is society that is pushing this change to occur. Speaking Spanish does not define you as being Latino/Latina. This holds true for the simple fact that whether you are capable of speaking Spanish or not, you are still Latino/Latina. More specifically, not being able to speak perfect Spanish does not “make you” less Latino/Latina. Before anyone starts to judge a Latino/Latina not knowing their “native” language well enough, whether they are a politician, a celebrity, or just the neighbor, think about this: “Most Latino immigrants (67%) report that they use at least some English at work. Just 28% say they speak only Spanish on the job.” Based on the quote, Latinos’ lack of Spanish can be justified by society. Whether it is school or work, the places where we spend most of our days, we have to assimilate to speaking English, in order to get an education or at the end of the day, get paid. Society itself has taken the task of limiting Latinos’ freedom to speak the language they are aquatinted with.
The definition of the word Latino is: a person of Latin-American or Spanish-speaking descent. This definition lacks the family oriented, the culture, and overall, the traditions that characterize Latinos all over the globe. “Spanish speaking” does not define Latinos. What truly defines us is the way we embrace our culture, from the rhythm of our feet to the rhythm of our hearts. From quinceañeras to eating tamales on Christmas Eve, this is what Latinos embrace, their culture. Another characteristic of Latinos is prioritizing family and helping others, so the Latino community can move forward as a whole. Overall, what most characterizes us is the dignity with which we proudly portray our pride of having the privilege of being Latino.
English is the dominant language in the United States and is used throughout our activities. No matter what environment, English is not an option but, a necessity that helps us communicate with the people around us. It has been demonstrated that future generations of adult children of Latino immigrants will speak less Spanish at home and will be more capable to hold a conversation in English. One’s ability to speak Spanish influences our Latino identity by expanding our capability to interact to the fullest in conversation and speak our mind in public. It also influences our Latino identity by helping us portray an image of being strong both in the Spanish and English “worlds.” One’s inability to speak Spanish influences our Latino identity by exposing us to critics from society. Being unable to speak Spanish makes us more fragile to offensive comments criticizing how ” if you are Latino, you must know Spanish” or “if you do not know Spanish you must be ashamed of being Latino.” All these stereotypical comments, are typically used to ruin one’s reputation or make one seem “not Latino enough.” Overall, Latino means to live up for what your culture teaches you. So, Latinos proudly embrace your culture and feel grateful that you are a Latino/a, no matter how well you know Spanish.