“Se habla Espanol,” a memoir written by Tanya Maria Barrientos, was published by Borderline Personalities: A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass & Cultural Shifting (HarperCollins, 2004). Barrientos is a Guatemalan born Latina that was brought to the United States as a child, but failed to identify with her origins and saw herself as an American girl who struggled as an adult to regain her identity and acceptance as a Latino woman. Barrientos was brought to the United States at a very young age by her parents who immersed her into the American culture by speaking nothing, but English. This was to serve the purpose of blending her more into her new society and thus, ensuring her success. Barrientos describes how Americans during that time were not culturally tolerant and expected foreigners who entered into their country “to drop their cultural baggage at the border” (2004). Barrientos believed that speaking Spanish translated into being poor, waiting tables at restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms. In addition, it meant being excluded from school activities such as cheerleading or not having a chance to go to college. Barrientos enjoyed saying “yo no hablo espanol” (2004) to Latino store clerks and waitresses. As a result, it made her feel superior and also made her feel American.
Fitting in with the American society was essential for Barrientos. She stayed away from speaking Spanish because she did not want to be labeled as a Latina. Barrientos was told by her best friends that she did not seem “Mexican” and she took the comment as a compliment. For Barrientos, it did not matter that her parents spoke Spanish and were successful. She stayed away from speaking Spanish because it was important for her to fit into the American society.
When she was sixteen, she told her father she hated being called Mexican because the word was hurled as an insult. As a result, her father realized how she felt about her native culture. That summer, he decided to...
References: 1.) Maine Humanities Council. (2008). Humanities on Demand, Flash Reading: Non-fiction and Drama. Retrieved from Main Humanities Council website: http://mainehumanities.org/podcast/archives/tag/tanya-maria-barrientos
2.) Roen, D., Glau, G.R., & Maid, B.M. (2011). The McGraw-Hill Guide Writing for College, Writing for Life. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions
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