Latina but not really Latina.
What are you when you’re too White for the Latino community but you’re too Brown for the Latino community?
Growing up, my parents never found a reason to teach me Spanish as a second language. I wasn’t first generation, second generation, or even third generation. My great great grandparents immigrated from Mexico and that’s as far as I know. My great grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents know Spanish but it stopped at me. My parents told me they would rather wait till I could take it in school (Which I did). My Spanish is no where near fluent, but it’s progressing. I can read and write Spanish fairly well, but my listening and speaking is… not very good. Though, in my defense I do have a speech impediment, making it hard to even speak in English properly sometimes. Throw rolling your R’s (Which I can’t even say normally) and complicated words into the mix, and you’ve got a stuttering mess.
Speaking the language in the Latino community is a big deal. You have to speak fluently. Think about it like this: You’ve been going to this beach your entire life, you’ve grown up on the beach, you love the environment and the people on the beach. But there was this part of the beach with the best restaurants on the boardwalk and the clearest water imaginable that people swam in. You were never allowed onto that side though because you didn’t wear sunglasses like everyone on that side did, so you’re not really a member of the beach. You’re just a beach goer. You basically grew up on that beach, you know it from inside out, you’re just like everyone else, but you’re not really a member of the beach.
It’s kind of like that. You’re Latino and you’ve grown up in a Latino household (maybe even a Latino community), and you are Latino. But there’s a certain stigma around people who don’t speak Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish, you’re not Latino. Doesn’t matter that you’re actually Latino. All that is thrown away once they realize you can’t speak the language.
I will never understand why I’m suddenly not considered Latina anymore once it’s discovered that I can not speak Spanish. I really hope that one day the Latino community can throw away this stigma about Non-Spanish speaking Latinos. We ARE still apart of this culture and we ARE still Latino. Sorry I’m a gringa but I’m still apart of this identity.
At the end of the day, I always know that I am still Mexican and I remain proud of this identity. I continue to learn Spanish for my own reasons and not because I’m desperate to find into the generalized Latino stereotype.
Soy Mexicana y nada más.