An Analytical Summary
Tre A. Williams
Tanya Maria Barrientos, a journalist by profession and an upcoming author is Guatemalan by birth. However she has been living in America for almost fifty years after coming from her native country at the age of three. The essay ‘Se Habla Español’ is a poignant depiction of the search for her misplaced identity that she desperately tried to forget in her formative years. Her aversion towards her own ethnicity can be summarized by this quote of hers, “when I was sixteen, I told my father how much I hated being called Mexican-not only because I wasn't, but also because the word was hurled as an insult” (Page 59). The most important point of the essay is the difficulty the immigrants face while growing up in a land, which is not their by birth as how they are inherently misfit in the society, yet they desperately want to merge into it by forgetting their language and ignoring their last names. Barrientos starts the essay the quite aptly by depicting her child hood days as how her parents consciously forgot their own culture to assimilate their kids in the alien ‘gringo’ culture. Although they themselves talked to each other in Spanish, yet they talked to their kids in English, maintain the American culture within the house and kept their kids as far away as possible from other Latin Americans and Latin American Culture. The result was dark skinned kids who consider themselves white and hate to be called Latin American or Mexican. Barrientos’ mental state in her growing years can be ascertained by these words, “I enjoyed looking into the faces of Latino store clerks and waitresses and, yes, even our maid, and saying ‘yo no hablo español’. It made me feel superior. It made me feel American. It made me feel white” (Page 58). The situation completely changed when Barrientos reached her 20’s. Suddenly the societal conditions changed and...