Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15. The purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month is to celebrate the accomplishments of both Hispanic and Latinx cultures. To Hispanic and Latinx people, this month means a lot. It’s a time to reflect on the struggles our Hispanic and Latinx families have been through to get us to where we are now (college) and to celebrate the culture. But, although you celebrate the culture and embrace your ethnicity, people won’t always see it positively.
Going into this fall semester, I had one primary goal. Of course, my goal is always to do well academically; but, I wanted to speak more Spanish, listen to Spanish music, watch Spanish movies and be more in touch with my culture. It’s something I used to do at home all the time with my family. With my mother being Mexican and my father being Salvadoran, we mostly speak Spanish in my home. It’s something I’m used to and is part of me.
Before I started talking, my parents decided that my first language was going to be Spanish. Since most of my cousins didn’t speak Spanish, my mom and dad wanted my Spanish-speaking grandparents to have a relationship with at least one of their grandchildren. So, I was the chosen one; The one destined to speak Spanish first. So, it became my first language. Growing up, I have spoken a lot of Spanish to my dad, grandparents, family, family friends and all of that.
I realized where I went wrong when I arrived at SFA. When I came here, I was surrounded by people who didn’t speak Spanish. Everyone I was around didn’t know anything about my culture or my language. So, I adapted to them and only spoke English. All the time. I even began to develop what people now call a, “white girl accent.”
The other day, I was on FaceTime with a friend who was helping me get a job at a local phone store. He explained that they needed someone who spoke Spanish. So, I replied, “Yo hablo Español.” When I said this, he said, “You sound like a lil’ white girl when you speak Spanish. I sound more Hispanic when I speak Spanish, and I don’t even speak Spanish.”
Needless to say, I was offended. Not only because it was most likely true, but also because I knew it was on me. It was my fault that I didn’t sound “Hispanic” enough when I spoke Spanish and that hurt. But then I realized, they had no right to offend me. The person judging me was Hispanic themselves and didn’t even speak Spanish at all.
Which brings me to my next point: The fact that they used the words, “White girl” as a derogatory term.
Recently, I posted on my Instagram story that I wanted to go camping. I was at Target in the camping isle when I got a DM from the story I had posted. It was a Hispanic girl. She said, “That’s for white people.”
I already had people telling me that I’m not “Hispanic” enough and this girl tells me that an activity that I’m interested in experiencing is for white people.
I was upset to say the least.
I made the point that an activity cannot solely be made for white people to enjoy. She took to Twitter and made a poll to prove a point. She asked the question, “Is camping a white people thing?” with the answer choices: yes or no. 68% of people said no, while 32% said yes.
It’s things like this that have been following me around this semester. I’m trying my best to enjoy Hispanic Heritage Month, and I’m trying my best to get more in touch with my culture and show it. But, it’s proving to be harder to accomplish when people stereotype me.