No Hablo Español

Hi, I’m Karla. If you’ve read some of my articles before then you know that I am a hairy queer person who may or may not be able to graduate this coming May. But, if this is the first article you’re reading of mine then I should tell you that I am a hairy queer person who may or may not be able to graduate from college this coming May. 

I grew up in a very diverse family, my mom is Puerto Rican, my dad is Black, my uncle is Cuban and Chinese, and my cousin is basically a unicorn. I’ve been exposed to the Spanish language and culture for most of my life, so you may be wondering at this point, “Karla, if you’ve been exposed to the Spanish language and culture most of your life then why don’t you speak fluent Spanish?” Well, my dear reader, the answer is simple. I have absolutely no clue. 

Although I’m not giving myself enough credit, you see, I wasn't always like this. When I was very young there was a time where I had to live in Puerto Rico without my mother for two or so years due to some seriously bad weather in the states. If you didn't already know, during the early stages of childhood it is said that we begin to interpret and comprehend various sounds and distinguish between them, in other words, we are learning language. During my time in PR, because I was exposed and immersed in the Spanish language, I just so happened to become fluent in Spanish. That was until I had to come back to the states.

When you go to a school and live in a community where Spanish is not the predominant language you tend to slowly forget and lose that skill. Now, being older, it’s very hard and disheartening whenever I go back to Puerto Rico to visit my family, especially since I can barely speak Spanish and only a few of my relatives are fluent in English. Many times I have found myself barely speaking to my relatives or even getting judged, by my own people, for not being able to speak the language. The problem that mixed children, like me, always face is that we are never truly accepted in one community because we are not seen as “enough” to them.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Why don't you just learn the language?” Well, that also has a very simple answer: for fear of judgment. As someone relearning a language you tend to feel ashamed, scared, or even embarrassed to put yourself out there, mess up, and be judged for poor execution. With trying and failing you risk exposing your lack of knowledge of your own heritage’s language. Now, of course, not everyone may see it that way but unfortunately, insecurities presence will always be looming behind us until we learn to Latin up and get over it. 

I’m not saying that I don’t feel thankful every day to be born the way I am, but being a mixed kid, being someone who is a part of such a colorful community and struggles to interact and feel accepted within it, it’s something that weighs heavily in my mind every day, but not something that I will let hold me back from progress.