I don’t have to speak spanish

Jennnifer, Fresno, CA. No matter where I am, people will come up to me and start speaking Spanish. I assume it’s because they assume that im fully Mexican. but little do many know, I’m mayority Native American with a small amount of Hispanic in me. Because people asssume that I’m Mexican, they assume my first […]

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Hispanic chick doesn’t speak Spanish, WHAT?

Cynthia Deras, GA. Are you hispanic? Why don’t you speak spanish? What part of Mexico are your parents from? Say something in Spanish! Your not really Mexican if you dont speak spanish. Basically thats the reaction I get from the latino community when someone finds out I dont speak Spanish. I lost Spanish as a […]

As Korean as you are Korean

Tesha Post, Holland, MI. I was adopted from Korea when I was six months old and grew up living in the U.S. with my White parents. As a result, I do not speak Korean or know how to cook Korean foods. People are often surprised to hear this– they may react with disappointment, confusion, or […]

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Don’t speak Spanish, I’m still Hispanic

Victor Santana-Melgoza, El Paso, TX. For most of my life I have been rejected by many people in the Hispanic/Chican@/Latin@ community for not learning and practicing Spanish (as well as not following other cultural cues). I was raised in a household where English was the main language spoken. I am 4th generation American, raised by […]

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Otosan, please teach us your language.

Jaimie Scanlon, Brattleboro, VT. My husband is bilingual Japanese-American. His mother, raising three boys in Iowa in the 1960s, made sure her sons grew up speaking, reading, and writing her own mother tongue. Now all three men are completely bilingual and realize the value of the gift she gave them. Before our kids were born […]

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Hope my children will speak Spanish

Sandra Aguilar-Rodríguez, Bethlehem, PA. I am Mexican, I speak English, French and Spanish. I have a PhD in History, but still I find it difficult to understand why in the United States being bilingual or trilingual is not appreciated. I want my children to speak, read and write at least in another language, and if […]

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Black grandma, White grandpa. That’s weird!

Val’Dionna P., San Francisco, CA. Throughout the years it has been a bit difficult to understand the many emotions and stereotypes being of color and mixed. It is important to understand that how one is raised growing up in a complex world that continues to critique someone on the features or melancholy of their skin […]

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Listen First. Pray Next. Speak Last.

Eric Nykamp, Grand Rapids, MI. My sense is that as white people, we too often choose to react or retreat from conversations about race because they are difficult to have. If we keep doing this, we don’t really make any progress. Yes, it is painful – for everyone. However, there is more beyond the pain. […]

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I speak better English than you.

Nicole Huber, Colorado Springs, CO. I am Asian American. Being an Asian American, no one clutches their purse tighter when I walk by, and no one finds it surprising that I teach at a university. But despite Asian Americans being perceived as the “model minority,” we are not seen as “real” Americans. I was adopted […]

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Being Asian, my Authenticity is Questioned

Colette, Sacramento, CA. “I love Asian girls” “I love Japanese people” “Konnichiwa” “Ni hao” “Sayonara” “Kamsammida” ‘Your a bad Japanese. You don’t know Japanese.’ “Are you Chinese?” “I don’t think people in Osaka speak Kansaiben” “I know Chinese” “You look the most Japanese” “You could be an other Asian too” One Caucasian man approached my […]

But Elizabeth, you’re not really black…

Elizabeth D Atlanta, GA But I’m sure not white either. You think because I speak a certain way and dress a certain way, because I don’t fit your stereotypes, I’m not ‘black’ enough? Sorry if I shatter your preconceived notions, but as always I’m just being myself.

No, I do not speak Spanish.

Delia Moreno Valley, CA I am so tired of others expecting me to know every bit of Spanish, simply because I am Mexican. It is assumed that just because one is of the Mexican heritage they should know the Spanish language fluently. I do know a little bit of Spanish to kind of get me […]

“You probably don’t speak English”

Michelle Liv New York City, NY Brooklyn As a person of color, it still angers me that mainstream society still regards what is “white” as “normal” or the status quo. I hate being judged on my racial appearance and assumed that I do not speak English because I am not white. These words were uttered […]

Speak English We Are In America

Amanda Denise Ballantyne New York City, NY The Bronx I was at a dinner when a group ,mid 60s/early70s (age), of Caucasians were eating their sunday breakfast discussing an event. I specifically heard a section of the conversation, “I can’t stand moments like that. We are in America, speak English we are in America.” It […]

I am both, but also neither.

Nisha Ahamed Jersey City, NJ My mother is German, raised in Canada and my father is Indian Muslim. I was born and still live in the US. I grew up in a very white area, and now live in a very multicultural city. When I walk down the street in the Indian section of town, […]

Why is your English so good?

Basundhara Mukherjee South Burlington, VT I was born in India, lived in Saudi Arabia, and grew up mostly in a small town in Vermont. English is in my blood, just like Bengali. When someone asks me why my English is so good, it reminds me of the ignorance that still, unfortunately, exists in this country. […]

Assimilation; there is no such thing.

Abel TX Speak English only they say. America is a melting pot; think American, be American. If you assimilate you will fit in and be treated equally! But when you assimilate, all that you gain is the loss of your cultural roots and your ethnic identity. Because, there is always someone around the corner to […]

My German accent creates a wall.

Annette Baran Katonah, NY I´ve been living in the U.S. for 9 years and was recently naturalized. My kids are truly bilingual. Although, I have many friends and a wonderful family I often feel that during a conversation when people notice my accent I´m not taken as seriously as native speakers.

Yes, he is my biological son.

Naomi Raquel Enright Brooklyn, NY My father was Jewish-American of Eastern European ancestry and my mother is from Guayaquil, Ecuador of African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry. I am bilingual, born in La Paz, Bolivia, raised in NYC and a citizen of all three countries. I am now married to an American of Irish and […]

Not Everyone Whose Hispanic Speaks Spanish

Isaiah Santiago Philadelphia, PA My names Isaiah Santiago and I am Puerto Rican. Being Puerto Rican and being different is always something that I’ve dealt with in my life. I’ve always been called things like gringo(white boy) or just a fake Puerto Rican. All of this comes back to me not speaking Spanish. Everyone always […]

“White,” Turkish husband, speak 2+ languages.

PHYLLIS HULL AKTURK Rockville, MD I check “other” for race because we are all just homo sapiens. Although Father was from Norman English+Dutch and Mother from German+English stock (both born and raised in Denver, Colorado), I didn’t know I was a WASP until I got to the dorm, as a junior, at American University, where […]

Your English is really quite good.

Raka Nandi Memphis, TN I have been “complimented” with this type of statement many a time in my life in America. I often wonder about the racial undertone of this type of sentiment. Just because the color of your skin is brown, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good command of the English […]

Korean, but I don’t speak Korean

Cliff Song Medford, MA I’m a Korean-American. My parents are from Korea. I was born and raised in Southern California (recently moved to Massachusetts). I spent some time teaching English in South Korea and traveled throughout Asia. Throughout my travels I’ve been asked by expatriates and locals to explain my origin but the complicated answer […]

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Mexican white girl, doesn’t speak Spanish.

Elysha O’Brien, Las Vegas, NV. Whites see me as Mexican, Mexicans view me as White because I don’t speak Spanish. I find it interesting that we don’t qualify other ethnic identities on the basis of language. Featured on NPR’s Morning Edition Segment: Living in Two Worlds but with Just One Language http://www.npr.org/2013/05/23/185839159/living-in-two-worlds-but-with-just-one-language

I can’t speak my own language.

Dominic Lim Oakland, CA Like many 1st generation Filipino-American children, my parents never taught me Tagalog (Filipino), because they wanted me and my siblings to speak perfect English. And though I appreciate that they wanted to protect us from racism and bullying regarding any sort of accent we might get from learning Tagalog — I’m […]

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We thought you didn’t speak English.

Gabriela Denise Frank, Seattle, WA. Despite being a Detroit native who grew up in Arizona, I was mostly surrounded by white kids like me during my childhood. Though my family is Jewish, I never experienced discrimination while living in predominately Christian communities. Even as an adult in Seattle, which is more ethnically diverse, I live […]

Well educated Asian-Americans asked, speak English?

Christine Thai-Pappa Fairfax, VA I was at a National Convention for my sorority, which is an Asian- American Interest sorority. A number of us had gotten onto the elevator at our hotel. There were girls from the University of Virginia, Berkeley, Standford, Cornell, and Carnegie Melon. At the next floor a group of older Caucasian […]

Can’t speak for all black people.

Sayeeda Brooklyn, NY On a predominately white college campus in the late 80’s early 90’s I was often the only African Caribbean person in a class. Anytime issues around African Americans, Caribbean people or Africans came up all heads turned, to me as if I were an expert or authority. My classmates didn’t know this […]

Where did you learn your English?

Sameer Belgaumi Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan I’m a Pakistani-American who grew up in Saudi Arabia. I hear this question so often that I wish I had a better reason than “I was born speaking it.” The truth that English was one of the first languages I learned, seems like such […]

Sometimes race isn’t enough; need language

Mary K. Coseo NY I am a Korean adoptee and was raised in the United States. I was reunited with my Korean birth family about 12 years ago. Although I am the same race as other Koreans and my birth family, what I really need to transcend the barriers is the ability to speak the […]

Wow, you speak real good English.

Karin Kross Levenstein Austin, TX Korean adoptee, adopted as an infant by white parents. “Are you Chinese? Japanese? What are you then?” Always weighing out exactly what is meant when someone asks “where are you from?”, and then that sinking feeling (after you say “I’m from Austin” or “I grew up in DC”) when they […]

THE RACE IS IS OUR CENTER

James P. Ayers Ft. Wayne, IN Dear Michele, We enjoyed your Fort Wayne Presentation. My 6 and 5 words in two versions: THE RACE IS IS OUR CENTER or RACE IS AT OUR CENTER (in 5 words) I was tempted to ask a question as a follow up to your including the reference to diction […]

White, female – begin to speak – IMMIGRANT!

Åsa Nojd San Francisco, CA For better or worse, my accent changes others’ perception of me in an instant when they hear me speak. That used to make me feel very self-conscious and I sometimes avoided talking, not to reveal that I’m actually a foreigner and not just another white American. It took me a […]

I speak English better than you.

Janette Santos North Quincy, MA I was at the local grocery store mulling over which yogurt to get, when a middle-aged woman came up to me. The first words out of her mouth were, “Do you speak English?” I was so shocked at the time that before I could even get a chance to respond, […]