Many people think that if you're Latino then you're not an American. Some people assume that Latinos have green cards and that their English is not good. What they don't realize is that people are all the same.
I'm Puerto Rican. I lived in Florida for nine years before my family moved to Ohio. When my mother and I went to school to enroll me, the secretary asked my mother for a green card. My mother told the lady she didn't have a green card because she's an American. The woman didn't believe her and started to argue. My mother homeschooled my sister and me for a year. Just because we look Hispanic doesn't mean we are not Americans. We have the right to a good education.
Things like that happen almost every day. For example, when I was walking though the mall, a lady selling books came up to me and started talking. I stood there, listening, when suddenly she stopped and said, "Oh, I'm sorry! Do you speak English?"
In a clear voice, I said, "Yeah, aren't I speaking it now?" And then I walked away. Now I feel like every person believes I don't speak English and only know Spanish. The lady should have approached me differently. She should have said, "Hello, how are you today?" or "Would you like to see what I'm selling?" instead of coming up to me and talking nonstop.
I want people to know that we are all the same. No matter what ethnic group or background we come from, we all have the right to be treated the same - with respect.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.