I am Latina No Habla Espanol

Erica Renee Contreras
Houston, TX

I’m from San Antonio Texas, quite possibly the most acculturated city with majority Latinos in the US. Growing up there was always so confusing. I don’t speak a word of Spanish. I live with the fact that no matter who I’m talking to, I inevitably end up feeling guilty for my lack of language skills. If you approach me speaking Spanish I’m offended you would assume I speak Spanish first. Then when you realize I don’t speak Spanish and you have the audacity to look down on me, I wonder why? Then I feel guilty because I should know the language, even if my last name wasn’t Contreras.

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  • dmmifflin

    I just heard the piece with Alicia O’Brien on the radio. I find it quite whiney. Every high school in the United States offers Spanish and every college does as well. I understand that there is some sadness and some personal regret not to have grown up bi-lingually, but learning a foreign language as a young person or even as an adult is perfectly doable. And it’s Spanish, for heaven’s sake, not Hungarian, like my friend’s ethnicity, or Swedish, which has to be learned in a Saturday program. My neighbor speaks passable German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese and doesn’t share any of those heritages. Maybe Michelle should be a therapist, not a radio journalist. Empower yourself – you can learn how to say ‘I love you’ in Spanish!

    • Lisa

      Fair, but I doubt if people walk up and assume someone “looks” Swedish or German.

  • Lydia Palma

    You are not alone. I grew up in Houston, TX with my entire mother’s side of the family being Mexican and wished my mother would have spoken more spanish at home especially as a young child so that I would have had a better chance. I took several years of spanish in highschool and even one in college where I test at a college level 3 but have extreme difficulty speaking it with others especially with native speakers. I can understand more than I speak but still my fear and lack of feeling i belong or fit in on either side has been holding me back from practicing. I know I must get through that in order to practice and become proficient at spanish.

  • Shleimer Sternberg

    Well if I was Hispanic I wouldn’t care much for my culture beyond the tacos either.

  • Jeffery Steinblatt

    I understand. If I were Hispanic, I wouldn’t want anything to do with my deadbeat culture much more than the tacos.

 

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