Habla Español? 11 Things Black-American Spanish Speakers Encounter
Reprinted with permission from Jelisa Jay Robinson from aintilatina.com
Let’s be real. Being a Black-American Spanish speaker is fun. You get to dip in on all the chisme like an undercover spy, and flirt with cuties in two languages. However, it can be difficult when people don’t understand your passion for this romance language. Here, I outline 11 things that happen when you speak your second language:
1. You’re asked on more than one occasion, “Where are you from?” And when you answer, the person inquires, “But where is your family from?”
Society is just now getting hip to the notion of an Afro-Latina. So, the fact that your Spanish is causing conversations about that African Diaspora is a plus. You just wish they would be satisfied when you told them your family is from the U.S.
2. If you are in school, your classmates always want to copy off of your paper in Spanish class.
Okay, so your peers didn’t do their conjugation charts? But they think they’re going to get the answers you spent your precious time working on? Ay, no.
3. Latinas often address you in English when they first meet you because well…eres Negra.
Even when you are with your Spanish-speaking amigos, Latinos greet everyone besides you in their native tongue. When you start a conversation in Spanish, they are in utter shock and amazement.
4. Your Black friends tell you “You are trying to be Latina” all the time.
If Spanish is your passion, you’ve probably been told that it’s not a “Black thing” or that “Black people don’t speak that language.” Both of which are not true.
5. You gladly apply for bilingual jobs and opportunities.
Does that job posting say “bilingual in Spanish and English”? Check. You got that!
6. But you’re asked to jump through hoops to prove your bilingual ability.
“Oh, YOU speak Spanish?” is the first question you’re asked in job interviews. After a series of tests, they finally believe you.
7. You butt in on the chisme because you know exactly what people are saying.
Chiming in on Spanish conversations can be a source of amusement because people don’t expect you to understand. Or, maybe you don’t join in. You just get the deets. They won’t suspect a thing!
8. Your family and friends call you to translate. All. The. Time.
You have grown used to your mom calling you every time she encounters a Spanish word, or your bestie asking you to read over her Spanish homework. You just wish they’d use Google translate sometimes.
9. Your iPod becomes the go-to for salsa, Latin pop, reggaeton, merengue and other genres of “Spanish music”.
You’re a music lover. It’s not uncommon for your music selection to skip from Ed Sheeran to Ciara to Marc Anthony, but Your “Latin” genre selection is on point. From Celia to Los Rakas to Los Kumbia Kings, nothing misses you.
10. Your dating pool increases because you can flirt in both languages.
The job pool isn’t the only pool you’re expanding. With a second language under your belt, you have even more options when it comes to dating.
11. You feel a sincere connection with and love for Spanish-speaking Latinas of African descent.
The Diaspora is vast and beautiful. You see your Spanish ability as a way to learn about the experiences and cultures of your kin. The Black experience is more than being Black American. It encompasses a wide variety of nationalities, ethnicities, identities and cultures.
Whether you learned your second language at school, your environment, or both, one thing’s for sure: It’s now apart of you. And you wouldn’t trade your ability to communicate in your chosen tongue for the world.
Jelisa Jay Robinson is a writer and playwright. You can catch her musings on fierceness, Afrolatinidad, and art on her blog, Black Girl, Latin World, and Twitter @jelisathewriter. She is a May 2015 graduate from KDChi's Pi Chapter at The University of Texas at Austin.