This week, I was met with some ignorance. I came across someone who said that if you do not speak Spanish, you shouldn’t be part of the “#ILOVEBEINGLATINA” tag. I’m here to tell you, as a Latin America & Latinx major, that is complete and utter BS. I’m going to tell you why even though you don’t speak Spanish, you should still love your Latinx-self.
Let’s start with the fact that “Latinx” is a broad, umbrella term. Essentially, anyone who lives in the United States with roots coming from Latin America is by definition, a Latinx. You come from Latin America, you’re Latinx.
With this totally new information, let’s now realize that Latin America has many different countries, each with its individual culture, meaning some pretty individual languages. Not everybody in a Latin American country speaks Spanish. Colonization did happen, remember? Spanish was forced upon us, but before that, our Latinx ancestors spoke individual, ancient and native languages. So just because you’re from Latin America, you’re not always expected to speak Spanish! Or more like, you shouldn’t. Continuing with this, remember that Brazil is also part of Latin America. One of the biggest countries in Latin America, and what do they speak? Portuguese. Not Spanish. I’ll repeat it: Portuguese. People living in Latin American countries could possibly have ancestral ties to all around the world. If Afro-Latinx have roots in Africa, do they only have origins speaking Spanish? There’s a community in Mexico City with people having origins in Japan, so we can probably bet they didn’t always speak Spanish.
Remember how when our parents, and great-grandparents, and family before that arrived in the United States, they were probably met with racism, discrimination, prejudice for speaking their native language? For having an accent? For not assimilating to the American lifestyle? For identifying with their native culture? Yeah, that. A lot of parents did not want to teach their kids their native language for that same reason. When it came down to it, parents would rather have had their kids treated right in the eyes of the American people, and didn’t think twice of losing a piece of their culture. It’s the same reason why many parents also give their kids Anglo-sounding names; they want to make it easier for their kids growing up in the United States. Because let’s face it, racism still very much exists.
In the end, even if you don’t speak Spanish, you should still be proud to be Latina. Latinaism is in your blood, it’s who you are. It’s not just the language you speak because sure, language connects us. But if you don’t speak the native language, it doesn’t mean you’re not part of that culture. The Latinx community is a complex group, having unique individuals who change the dynamics everyday. You should still love the fact that you’re Latina, even if you don’t fit into any typical Latina stereotypes. You’re still a Latina, and you should be proud of that.