No, sorry I don’t speak Spanish

New (1)Maria (Victoria) Lopez,
Moreno Valley, CA.

I am a student at Cal Baptist University and am in the class History of Minorities. My professor had us look into this web site for an assignment but to talk about our own race card. My race topic is, “No, sorry I don’t speak Spanish” This has been my answer to the question, “Do you speak Spanish?” I have been asked this question from the time I was a little girl from distant family members, friends, strangers, and colleagues. Usually after this question, I get, “Aren’t you Mexican?” I am not what is stereotyped of a Mexican, Latino, Hispanic, Chicano person. My family has been mixed and churned from many races and ethnicities but with my name, everyone assumes I should speak Spanish. A part of me would love to speak Spanish while the rebellious side does not want to only because everyone assumes I should.
My parents are both Hispanic and Caucasian. My father grew up in a Hispanic culture home that only spoke Spanish. He learned English when he started school in Kindergarten. My mother did not learn Spanish and grew up in an American culture home. My paternal grandmother is the only grandparent that I have who came from Mexico, even though she is half Mexican, a quarter Austrian, and a quarter Italian (as I said, I come from a mixture of race). My other grandparents and their families have been in the United States for generations. I have three grandparents that their first language was Spanish and English became their second, while I only have one grandparent one who speaks English.
Growing up I was asked, “What are you?” Is there a need to put a title on a person? I soon learned to name all my ethnicities to answer the question. This would get a strange stare. In the end, I learned to say, “I am a mutt.” I taught my daughters, who are a bigger mix of ethnicities from my husband’s side, to say it as well. However, with my daughters, when asked if they are Mexican and if they speak Spanish, they are told many times, “Then you’re not Mexican, if you don’t speak Spanish.” How can people be so mean? My children love to hear of their family background, especially from my father who tells stories of his paternal side who have lived in New Mexico for generations. They go to see their great-great grandmother and their family members who talk about their Hispanic ancestors. So how is it fair to say that we are not “Mexican” or even “Hispanic” just because we do not speak Spanish?


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