I Am More Than Just Bilingual

I'm Here To Tell You I Am More Than Just Bilingual

For a while, Spanish became an ugly reminder I didn't fully belong in these two worlds that have always been like family to me.

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As a Bilingual Latina, Spanish and English have always been a major part of my identity and define who I am as a person.

While I spoke English at school with my friends and teachers, Spanish was also spoken to and through me to describe my culture with my family in every way, shape and form.

I've always kind of flaunted my bilingualism and have never thought otherwise, however at some point while growing up, I came to almost resent the Spanish language.

I didn't resent the language because I couldn't understand it, but I resented Spanish because I had realized that it was a constant reminder of who I wasn't while simultaneously showing me who I could be.

I didn't belong with my family in the United States because I couldn't speak English perfectly, but I also didn't belong with my family in Mexico, because my Spanish wasn't considered the best.

I was basically my own little person of multilingual feelings.

For a while, Spanish became an ugly reminder I didn't fully belong in these two worlds that have always been like family to me.

It became difficult to know that I was constantly referred to as "The Bilingual Girl," or "The Girl who Speaks English and Spanish," because although that was true, being bilingual just wasn't enough for me to fit in.

Many people don't realize that being bilingual doesn't just come with a language, but it also comes with its own set of Stigma as well.

In America, being Bilingual is praised on so many levels.

People strive to be bilingual, but growing up with two languages hurts.

Not being able to belong into a community because you can't speak the language well, hurts.

Being known as that family member who "tries" to speak Spanish, hurts.

Yes, those are common struggles of being Bilingual, but man did they hurt while growing up.

I can now say that I'm more than just a Bilingual person.

I can proudly say that now, I do belong in both communities regardless of what other people think of me.

I'm more than just a Bilingual person.

I have two different cultures on my side full of knowledge and customs many people would love to learn about.

Being Bilingual shouldn't dictate you or remind you of what you can or cannot be. Embrace your differences and even when you feel like you don't belong in a certain place, trust me, you do.

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11 Things You Should Never Say To A Puerto Rican

Don't Be That Person
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Puerto Ricans. They are very proud people and whether they were born on the island or born in the United States by Puerto Rican parent(s). It gets even better when they meet another fellow Puerto Rican or Latino in general. You’ll know quickly if they are Puerto Rican whether the flag is printed somewhere on their person or whether they tell you or whether the famous phrase “wepa!” is said.

As a Puerto Rican born in Ohio who has a very Puerto Rican family, I can tell you that there are also things that you shouldn’t say to us. Here are the most common no-no’s that have been said to Puerto Ricans.

1. “Oh, so you/your family are immigrants!”

Puerto Rico is not an independent country. It is one of a few United States territories that have their own local government but abide by U.S. law and U.S. leaders. Everyone on that island is a U.S. citizen so no, my family members are not immigrants.

2. “Is Puerto Rico near Mexico?”


Okay, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island in, you guessed it, the Caribbean Sea along with a bunch of other islands. Each of those islands has a unique culture and history so why do you always assume all Latin nations/territories are near or associated with Mexico?

3. “Do you speak Puerto Rican?”

Even though Puerto Rico has its own slang, there is no such thing as a language called “Puerto Rican.” Puerto Ricans speak Spanish. Period.

4. “You look too light/dark to be Puerto Rican.”

This comment irritates me to no end. Puerto Ricans- and Latinos, for that matter- are extremely diverse. Our descendant range from the Spanish conquistadors to the indigenous groups who lived before colonization to the African slaves who were brought to the region. Not all of us fit the stereotypical mold of appearance.

5. “Do I need my passport to go to Puerto Rico?”

Again, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory not a country, therefore, you don’t need a passport to go there.

6. “Geez, you are obsessed with your flag. We get it, you’re Puerto Rican.”

Since when was it a bad thing to show pride towards one’s heritage? Last time I checked, no one was making fun of patriotic folks who waves the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag.

7. “Why are you so loud?”

We are just loud people. If you don’t like it, don’t talk to us.

8. “So does your family know English?”

Puerto Ricans are taught Spanish and English. Both are the official languages. Technically, Spanish is the first language of many Puerto Ricans on the island, but they understand and speak English. In fact, there are schools on the island that teach in English.

9. “Oh my god, Puerto Ricans are so spicy.”

This is an annoying stereotype that also plagues much of the Latino community. We can be sassy, but that’s just an individual personality trait that doesn’t apply to everyone.

10. “So did you eat a lot of tacos?”

Let’s see… did I grow up eating food from Mexico? No, because my family is Puerto Rican, not Mexican. Puerto Rico has its own cuisines. I grew up eating Puerto Rican food. Stop merging cultures.

11. “Are you Mexican?”

No. Stop. Not every Latino is Mexican. Mexicans are Mexicans, Puerto Ricans are Puerto Rican, and so on. Do not be that person.

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Pinero

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Dear Beautiful Black Girl, Never Forget Your Worth

An ode to all the beautiful black girls.

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We live in a society where societal standards greatly define the way we view ourselves. Although in 2019 these standards are not clear cut, some things are not easy to change. Not to play the race card, but this is true for women of color, especially black girls.

As much as I'd like to address this to all women, I want to hit on something that I'm more familiar with: being a black girl. Black females have a whole package to deal with when it comes to beauty standards. The past suppression and oppression our ancestors went through years ago can still be felt in our views of beauty. It is rare to see young black girls be taught that their afros and nappy hair are beautiful. Instead, we are put under flat irons and dangerous chemicals that change our hair texture as soon as our hair becomes too "complicated" to deal with. The girls with darker skin are not praised, but rather lowered in comparison to their peers with fairer skin. A lot of the conditioning happens at a young age — at the age of 8, already you can feel like you're in the wrong skin.

As we grow up, there are more expectations that come here and there, a lot of very stereotypical and diminishing. "You're a black girl, you should know how to dance," "black girls don't have flat butts," "black girls know how to cook," "you must have an attitude since you're black" — I'm sure you get the idea. Let me say this: "black girls," as they all like to say, are not manufactured with presets. Stop looking for the same things in all of us. Black girls come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and talents. I understand that a lot of these come from cultural backgrounds, but you cannot bash a black girl because she does not fit the "ideal" description.

And there is more.

The guys that say, "I don't do black girls, they too ratchet/they got an attitude" — excuse me? Have you been with/spoken to all the black girls on this planet? Is this a category that you throw all ill-mouthed girls? Why such prejudice, especially coming from black men? Or they will chant that they interact with girls that are light-skinned, that is their conditioned self-speaking. The fact that these men have dark-skinned sisters and mothers and yet don't want to associate with girls that look the same confuses me. And who even asked you? There are 100 other ethnicities and races in the world, and we are the one you decide to spit on? Did we do something to you?

Black girls already have society looking at them sideways. First, for being a woman, and second, for being black, and black males add to this by rejecting and disrespecting us.

But we still we rise above it all.

Black girls of our generation are starting to realize the power that we hold, especially as we work hand in hand. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Chinua Achebe, Michelle Obama — the list is too long — are changing the narrative of the "black girl" the world knows. The angry black woman has been replaced with the beautiful, educated, and successful melanin-filled woman.

Girls, embrace your hair, body, and skin tone, and don't let boys or society dictate what is acceptable or beautiful. The black girl magic is real, and it's coming at them strong.

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