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No Hablo Espanol This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Hola."

"Hola," Ireply.

"¿Como tellama?"

"Mariana."

"Mariana..." the person continues in Spanish.

"Um... no hablo espanol."

"What! You don't speakSpanish!" they say with a shocked expression that clearlysays, "Shame on you!"

This is how a typicalconversation between an older Latino person and me begins. Bythe time we reach this part, I feel both self-conscious andembarrassed.

I am Puerto Rican-American and proud ofit, but I do not speak Spanish fluently. I understand a fewphrases and get the gist of others, but I cannot speak Spanishas well as most would expect of a typical Hispanicperson.

The reason? When I was young, my bilingualparents only taught me English. English is my first languageand the one I am most comfortable with. Does this make me lessof a Latino?

Some people think so. When I reveal that Idon't speak what most would consider my native tongue, theyare aghast. "How can you call yourself a trueLatino?" some ask with a disgusted look on their face.They feel this means I do not know my own culture, but that isfar from the truth. I am so proud of my heritage; I know thehistory of my people as well as what is happening with Latinoculture. I love the music, customs and food. In fact, the moreI learn about my culture, the better I feel as an individual.And with all of the recent news of Latinos' success, my prideis growing. So ¡por favor! Don't question my ethnicitybecause I don't speak Spanish.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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writingrox said...
Oct. 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm:
This is just like me. I know a lot about my heritage and what important people there were, but I can't speak much Spanish. I hope people can learn no matter what language people speak, they can be proud of their heritage.
 
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