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What It Means to Be a Hispanic

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Do people already assume you speak Spanish because you are of Hispanic descent? Do they judge when they find out you don’t? If you don’t understand your culture would that make you any less of a member to your ethnic group. Members of a Hispanic heritage who don’t speak the language are dealt with this type of stereotype frequently. While it is true the majority of Hispanics do speak Spanish, still several never understand the concept making them looked frowned upon and called names such as “white washed.” You may also have a predisposition idea on the lives of Mexicans and how they act, talk, dance, etc. This has led to insecurities that linger around to haunt this specific group, or the minority group of the minority group. This had led me to select a meme to express the feelings and show how this meme became what it is throughout the essay. The meme I have selected shows a bit of humor, but the reality is that this is what non Spanish speakers who have a Hispanic background really go through. People of this group are significantly impacted as they feel more insecure about themselves, feel outcasted, or sluggish from the eyes of the public.

Not being able to speak Spanish one big insecurity that members of Latin descent have. Imagine yourself at a party or some type of event and someone comes up to you and begins speaking Spanish. You respond, “no habla espanol,” for which they then reply oh sorry I thought you were Mexican. This eats you up and makes you feel confused and upset about yourself rethinking the situation and why it happened? Then it hits you. I can’t speak Spanish and it’s been the reason for why I’ve been separated from my culture. After realizing the problem and working endlessly to solve the issue by attending classes and whatnot you start picking up the language here and there. And after years of learning you finally become content and understand the language. To only find out it didn’t make you any more Latino then you already were. Being Hispanic is inherent, you don’t need to prove nothing. You see, this is a big insecurity problem that most of us Latinos who don’t speak Spanish go through. We overthink it making us feel bad about ourselves and giving us an insane amount of anxiety from time to time. Which could potentially lead to a bigger mess such as depression or effects to your organs. Whether you speak Spanish or not, this should not have a toll on whether your Hispanic or not. Even in our circle we can be outcasted due to our lack of knowledge to speak Spanish. For example, if you play soccer and most of your teammates are of Spanish descent, they might be speaking Spanish to communicate with each other while playing soccer to bond better or to prevent the other team from knowing what you are saying. In the middle of the game, one of your teammates can give directions in Spanish and most of the team would understand and execute while you’re their puzzled and confused. Only to have another teammate translate for you, which can be embarrassing especially when you’re Hispanic like others because they can speak Spanish but you can’t speak the language. This also could possibly worsen your bond with your teammates and actually affect your in-game performance as you need more time to process what they are saying. This also gives us the feeling that we are in competition with one another, to see where we rank among your people. Since your people are more accustomed to the language it can make you feel bad and jealous to the point where you might even consider finding new friends or a new group. This is a factor that most of us feel but keep to ourselves to prevent more hurt feelings.

The amount of people in this group is very relevant as there are many articles from these people who go through the same problem. The article, “Can you lose a Language you never knew by,” Keven Garcia explains how as the population is growing a smaller number of Latinos are speaking the Language. Garcia writes, “Growing up, I was told that understanding the language of the home country was the utmost importance. Sometimes this message was subtle: Spanish- Speaking strangers who, after trying and failing to interact with me, would let out a pointed “No habla espanol?” This quote explains how when Garcia was getting older he was taught from others that learning Spanish from their country was extremely vital, and how sometimes strangers would approach him asking for something in Spanish leaving him speechless. This makes for a very uncomfortable and awkward situation. Garcia also writes,” Other times, it was more explicit – the gentle (and not-so-gentle) teasing from family and friends for mixing up ser and estar; the uncomfortable silence that fell between my cousins and me, neither of us able to communicate during my family’s trips to Mexico.” This quote explains how sometimes not only speaking Spanish is embarrassing but it is also annoying to family members and friends. I myself have been in a situation where some uncles and my grandparents got upset with me because I had no idea what they were talking about.

Another article, “You’re Mexican and You Don’t Speak Spanish,” by Angel Cambron explains how people call him “white-boy” “fake-ass Mexican” due to him not being able to speak the language. Cambron responds to these claims he says,” My bad my parents didn’t speak Spanish in my house growing up. My bad I didn’t realize at the age of five that it was my responsibility to teach myself a new language. That’s my fault.” In this quote Cambron is expressing sarcasm as you can feel his frustration when people criticize him for not being able to speak Spanish. In his article he also provides a statistic that shows how Hispanics born in the U.s, 40 percent of them don’t speak Spanish at home. Not saying this is a good thing but it shows how you are not alone if you are facing this type of issue. You are by all means the ethnicity you identify with since your birth and nothing will take that away.

Being Hispanic doesn’t mean if you’re able to do the salsa or speak fluent Spanish. Being Hispanic is something you had acquired since the day you were born. Ok cool! But how do I deal with the consequences of not being able to speak Spanish? Just ignore it, you are definitely not alone as the number of Hispanics born in the U.s not being able to speak Spanish is only growing. This all ties back to my meme and why it was created. As you can tell from reading this essay, just because you look or are from a certain background doesn’t make you guaranteed to speak the language. It is a stereotype that should be stopped as its getting less and less relevant.

Works cited

  • Garcia, Kevin. “Can You Lose A Language You Never Knew?” NPR, NPR, 10 Mar. 2018,
  • Cambron, Angel. “You’re Mexican and You Don’t Speak Spanish?” Medium, Gender Theory, 26 May 2017,

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