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- Is Speaking Spanish Cultural Appropriation?
“Is Speaking Spanish Cultural Appropriation?”
To be fair, I don’t care that much about this topic.
I speak Spanish all the time – I live in Mexico.
Got a problem with it?
Eat my dick.
Still, it’s one of those topics that you forget about when you live abroad in Latin America long enough.
Mostly because not a single local down here truly gives a fuck about the top of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation."
Sometimes, they even are HAPPY that I can speak any bit of it at all!
Mostly in areas with no tourists though.
It’s one of those topics that, for the most part, only American Latinos seem to give a fuck about "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation."
And, if we’re being honest, only a minority of those anyhow.
Anyway, this article will cover my own thoughts on this subject but, as you will see, it'll cover a wide range of related topics as well brought up in the articles I find online talking about this issue.
So, if you don't want to read about those other topics that this article touches on, just read the next two sections and go to my "Final Thoughts" in the end of the article.
Or enjoy all of it because it does touch various interesting and related subjects as I will be responding to a few articles that discuss the topic of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation."
But let’s get to it by first defining what is “cultural appropriation.”
So I had to look up what they mean by “cultural appropriation.”
To be honest, I never looked up the exact definition before.
But here’s what it means apparently according to the Ultimate Academic source of Wikipedia here:
“Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from minority cultures.”
Then we have some other sources like this article here that provides a definition:
“Cultural appropriation refers to the use of objects or elements of a non-dominant culture in a way that doesn't respect their original meaning, give credit to their source, or reinforces stereotypes or contributes to oppression.”
Then we have this source here from Cambridge Dictionary on the topic:
“The act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture”
So now we have 3 definitions to work with just so we can try to get some consensus on what it means basically.
The last two definitions are basically the same while the first one has no mention of trying to give respect or credit to the culture that elements are being taken from.
At any rate, let’s answer the question then before we get into the fun discussion.
Is Speaking Spanish Cultural Appropriation?
Well, let’s break this down.
In the first definition, an argument could be made in favor of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation" since there is no mention of “respect” or giving “credit.”
It literally just says that all you have to do is adopt an element from a culture (speaking Spanish) and doing so can be controversial if you come from a dominant group (non-Latino white people learning Spanish).
With this definition alone, you could maybe argue in favor of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation" here.
But you could also demonstrate more severe levels of autism against the folks accusing you of such by mentioning how Spanish actually came from Spain.
And Spain is a European country full of white people.
Also, "Latin Culture" has plenty of European influences.
There's plenty of white Latinos with some countries, like Argentina, which has a majority of their people being white or white passing.
And, as you can see in the comment section of this article, apparently Spanish is spoken on almost every single continent of the planet.
In that sense, it's a bit ignorant to claim also that all Latin countries have exactly the same culture, that European influence doesn't exist down here, that every Latino is brown and that no other cultures use the Spanish language outside of Latin America.
It's similarly ignorant to say that speaking Spanish is culturally appropriating from one specific culture.
Also, what if someone moves from one country to another one (like some place in Latin America)?
Are you really in a culturally dominant position here when you are now a minority in that country?
But then we have the other two definitions and they both have the additional details about respect and giving credit.
Essentially, if you adopt an element of a culture (speaking Spanish) without giving credit or respect to that culture.
Or, like in the second definition, they talk about “reinforcing stereotypes.”
So let’s think about this (in the context of Latin America since that is what this website is about)....
What could a non-Latino person do while speaking Spanish that would be considered “not giving respect or credit” to Latinos/Hispanics or could be considered “reinforcing stereotypes.”
Honestly, most folks learning Spanish aren’t doing crazy shit with it to disrespect the language.
Unless maybe they want to lecture Latinos who live in Latin America about how they need to change their language to always say “latinx.”
That might be considered disrespectful by some….
Otherwise, the most obvious example would maybe be a gringo who goes into a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo with the full sombrero hat, fake mustache and running around saying on repeat “NO MAMES WEY NO MAMES WEY MAS TEQUILA WEY NO MAMES WEY ME GUSTAN TACOOOOOOOS”
Yeah alright, that might be a little bit cringe for some folks.
But such a scenario would involve doing many other things outside of speaking Spanish and it wouldn’t really be the speaking Spanish bit that is provoking concern.
Though I will concede that there might be some examples of a non-Latino speaking Spanish in which the speaking Spanish bit isn't "giving respect" to the Latino or Hispanic that he is speaking to.
Still, those would be for very specific situations that don't represent most of the scenarios where a non-Latino is speaking Spanish.
Which, in my experience in the US, that usually involves speaking Spanish in mostly just the classroom so you can get that college credit to graduate.
Or maybe being at a fraternity drunkingly going along with the lyrics to some song popular like this one here.
"Gasolina....gasolina....wait, why is he singing about gasoline? Do they have a gasoline shortage in Puerto Rico?"
Bad joke bad joke....
But beyond that...
Maybe encountering a lady at Miami airport who doesn't understand your English and where some Spanish is needed when asking her "where's the nearest Starbucks so I can get some damn black iced tea?"
Also, maybe being at a new Mexican restaurant in your small town in Iowa where the waiter doesn't speak a lick of English and Spanish is necessary so he understands what your mom wants.
Or maybe talking on Whatsapp with a Colombian girlfriend in Spanish on a train heading back to Iowa.
Those are all literally the only examples that come to mind where I spoke Spanish in the US.
And there's nothing disrespectful in any of those examples to the Spanish language.
Outside of maybe my poor singing skills to Gasolina....
And outside of myself (someone who has learned Spanish for 8 years now and lived in Latin America for 6 years and counting)....
Most of the non-Latinos I know personally in the US only speak Spanish literally in the classroom only so they can graduate.
So is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation in most of the cases where it is spoken by non-Latinos?
And even if the question was somehow true on "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation"
Who gives a fuck?
OK, so you speak Spanish – who cares?
Did someone die as a result?
Get fucking real, will yeah?
And even if the gringo was speaking Spanish while dressed in a stereotypical fashion like how these you can imagine to be in a Mexican restaurant….
If I saw a bunch of Mexicans in Mexico going to a “Gringo Restaurant” and pretending to be stereotypically gringo…
Like eating hamburgers, dressed up in costumes that make them look fat as fuck and yelling “AMERICA!” several times a minute.
Eh, that’d be funny to see.
And you can’t really argue the “well you are part of the dominant culture!”
Yes, American culture has more influence worldwide but I’d still be (and am actually) a minority in this country where my culture isn’t dominant.
Finally, there's one last point I would make on this topic.
In my opinion, something only starts to become cultural appropriation when someone takes something from another culture and tries to pass it off as theirs.
When someone is speaking Spanish (or any language) that they learned, it's almost never the case that they are trying to "pass as Latino."
Do some do that?
Like that stereotypical white guy in high school who wants to "pass as black" or whatever the hell else.
Same thing down here in Latin America where the occasional gringo, after enough time feeling like an outsider, tries "too hard" to try and pass as a local.
Some would call this "going full Latino" or "going native" as I wrote more about here with examples.
Still, most folks living in Latin America or those learning Spanish in general are not doing that.
Most non-Latinos learning Spanish that I know of are usually doing it because of college requirements, for better job opportunities or to travel to or live in Latin America long term.
On other topics of Spanish, something similar would be seeing a non-Latino take a Spanish song, change the title and a few lyrics and try to claim it is their own without giving any credit to the original.
So, to me, that is what "cultural appropriation" sounds like more.
At any rate, this is the boring part of the article about "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
Now let’s break down the arguments some folks have made regarding this topic that I could find on the internet…
And I warn you: this is one long ass article.
So if you want the summary of what my final arguments are, skip to the very end under “Final Thoughts.”
And you might disagree with me also – I encourage all comments as long as they are respectful.
But these are just my opinions obviously.
Let’s get to it by responding to other arguments made online.
What do others think on the topic of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
“We Were Oppressed For It! So You Can’t Do it!”
First, we’ll take on this argument from this 2010 article here.
And we’ll dissect the story laid out by the author who goes by the name Tassja.
To summarize, it involves 4 people in a car (Tassja, her boyfriend and a non-white friend) with a white woman.
In the story, it turns out that the white woman had spent an unspecified amount of time in Latin America with her church.
Doing whatever church work she did, white woman observed how “happy the poor people are” in whatever community she was in. Based on her positive experience working with them, she wanted to learn Spanish to make her travels and work easier.
In the car, the white woman decided to speak Spanish to the Latino friend who happened to not speak Spanish very well. Her boyfriend also doesn’t speak Spanish either.
And that’s the story basically in a nutshell.
Random white chick speaking Spanish to two people who couldn’t speak Spanish well or not at all and talking about her days traveling to Latin America.
Personally, I find the story a bit weird.
If the two individuals didn’t speak Spanish, why the hell is she speaking Spanish to them and how could she maintain a conversation with them if they weren’t able to contribute much back?
Wouldn’t she notice that they are not contributing to the conversation (since, assumingly, they couldn’t understand her) or was Tassja translating her Spanish into English?
Which is all around just a funny and strange image to think about.
It almost sounds like a fake story to a degree.
Though I can definitely see a non-Latino wanting to use Latinos as a tool to practice Spanish in the same way some Latinos in Latin America can become very obsessed with practicing English with me.
But also it's a story in which I feel Tassja, in the quotes we’ll see below, comes across as looking for an opportunity to be angry and on a moral high horse to look down on people she has racial prejudice against.
To summarize why Tassja got angry about it, we’ll quote some key sentences from the short story.
Though you can read it here since the story isn’t long as all but let’s quote what I find interesting:
“Many of us have had our parents’ languages forced out of us through English-privileging education systems. Or, we have internalized so much shame and hatred about our native languages from the white colonial legacy, that reclaiming our mother tongues is a lifelong, painful, complex process.
Language anchors our history, our memory, our connection to community; the loss and dispossession of language entails a lifetime of anguish. For the Latin@/Chican@ community in the US, English-only programs and corporal punishment by white teachers ensured that entire generations grew up without the words to speak with their grandparents.
Reclaiming language and celebrating bilingualism is therefore tied to the collective decolonization of communities of color.”
So there’s a bit to unpack here.
First, if I was to really go full autism on this chick, I'd ask her if Spanish is really her "mother tongue?"
After all, it came from Spain -- A COUNTRY OF WHITE PEOPLE WHO COLONIZED LATIN COUNTRIES!!
So, if we are sticking true to going against "white colonial legacy" and "decolonization," shouldn't we be focused on abandoning Spanish and learning some indigenous language that came from Latin America?
Of course, by your logic, this might still be seen as "cultural appropriation" because most Latinos would never be accepted as "indigenous" enough by whatever indigenous community of Latin America that they could tie their ancestry to.
Assuming, of course, they can even find out which group it was as plenty of Latinos are of mixed heritage of some kind.
Again, this is the type of thinking that only an American would come up with. Most folks in Latin America (almost none) think this way.
Don't agree with everything the guy says but he offers an interesting perspective on this side topic brought up.
Second, we obviously don’t know Tassja’s personal life story.
Was she an immigrant who was forced not to speak Spanish? Did she grow up in a time where it was not acceptable?
And in what context (time and place in the US)?
Because you could argue pretty effectively, in my opinion, that Spanish doesn’t seem so demonized nowadays especially with the Spanish language being quite popular socially, culturally and even politically in various parts of the country.
As a side point, I can't help but laugh at Cory Booker's heavy ass accent.
It almost sounds to me like he is trying to imitate a Brazilian speaking Spanish while having one too many caipirinhas...
Granted, I shouldn't be talking shit since I got a heavy accent also.
To be fair, to be fair...
Still, the examples can be endless with this one....
"The US has over 40 million Spanish speakers."
Many of whom are not even Latino!
Like one guy I know named Alex from Florida who had to learn Spanish to get ahead in his career who I wrote about in articles like this one here.
In his case, he even grew up knowing plenty of Spanish even though he wasn't Latino because of the community he grew up in.
Which is a side point -- is it still cultural appropriation if the non-Latino learned Spanish simply by growing up in a community full of Latinos?
Or when other non-Latino folks I know were learning Spanish because of career benefits.
With any other benefits like making new friends who don't speak English, traveling the world easier, appreciating (not appropriating) a new culture....
Or getting to call Latinas "mami" whenever I date a new one.
Is Spanish sexy talk a no no? Even if we fucking?
And, like this article says here, the US is the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world with just Mexico ahead of us.
Still, you have bigoted people still in the US who make the news berating folks for speaking Spanish.
Though, as a side point, even the infamous Donald "fuck Mexicans" Trump had to pander to Hispanics and Latinos because of the political weight they carry in the US.
At least he's got good taste in food....
And political weight can and does translate to cultural, social and economic weight also.
Be it the necessity to learn Spanish to get ahead career wise like pointed out before...
Or the necessity of companies to not piss off Latino audiences.
The ability of Latinos, as a group (with non-Latinos), to push back against the racists like that guy in the video above.
Or all the others who lost their jobs due to their racist behavior.
And, of course, all the cultural influence that Spanish has in the US to non-Latinos.
As a side point, in contrast, while English and the US does have its cultural influences in Latin America without any question...
I don't see any politicians down here pandering to me down here unless it happened to maybe be in some expat heavy city (very few in between)....
And I definitely don't see, and haven't up to this point, any push back against the dumb racist cunts in Latin America who feel the need to discriminate against me or other gringos I know (of any race).
On that note, you got dickheads like this in literally just about any country of the world in my opinion.
That's a very typical "us vs. them" mentality.
Even in Latin America, as I said, folks down here are no different.
Be it the few times I had had folks either look at me badly or once in a blue moon say something because I chose to speak in English to another gringo...
Though, as I'll always say, you got more folks who want to practice it than get angry about it).
However, on that note, the ones who I find more likely to get seemingly annoyed would be older or more rural folks.
Or the discrimination against other Latino groups like Venezuelans in Colombia to Haitians in the DR to Guatemalans in Mexico and so on.
And, from what I've seen, you can sometimes easily enough distinguish the different nationality of someone by how they speak Spanish and that can provoke at times some discrimination against these folks.
Now, to be fair, you do got some minor push back against the discrimination against these types of communities but it varies by country and I would argue not nearly as strong as what you see in the US as mentioned before.
More on discrimination against Latino immigrants in Latin America in this article I wrote here.
So folks in Latin America are not any different here -- let's be real.
Though, to be fair, two wrongs don't make a right, do they?
But just to give you some perspective....
And the amount of backlash you'll get depends heavily on where you are in both Latin America and the US.
Even in my home state in a place like Iowa City, it's not uncommon to hear someone speaking Spanish and not getting heat for it.
I've seen that in Iowa before a few times.
Do those same people I see speaking Spanish ever get heat for it eventually or for their pronunciation of English words when speaking English?
Just like foreigners can sometimes get shit on for both reasons down here.
That doesn't mean though that I'm going to demand that every local in Latin America never speak English just because:
- Some folks want to shit on you for your Spanish pronunciation (Argentines, I'm looking at you).
- That some folks might not like it if a foreigner is speaking English.
- Or that my future children would have to learn Spanish and get told so in the classroom and outside in regular society if you raise them in Latin America (a point we will touch on later).
That, being a foreigner, I get discriminated against in various ways frequently like the following:
- Gringo pricing.
- People eyeing me that might want to rob me.
- Some actually trying or a cop extorting me because they think I'm an easy target.
- Ignorant folks thinking all foreigners are bad, racist, up to no good, haven't learned Spanish, live here and are not tourists, etc.
- Being targeted for scams in other ways due to being a foreigner.
- Some folks not wanting to be your friend unless you teach them English or whatever else.
So on and so on among other dumb shit that happens (and, to be fair, some good stuff happens too for foreigners)....
Despite all that, it would be just as illogical for me to claim that Latinos in Latin America can't speak English.
And this isn't a pissing contest because, as I have said in this article, that this doesn't take away from the shitty things Latinos go through in the US from the racists up there.
Just that you can't make a solid argument that people shouldn't learn your language because other people were dickheads and/or difficulties with being a foreigner or minority in another country.
And when I read stories like this, I always question if the author is recounting personal experiences they lived through or the stories of their parents or grandparents of which they wouldn’t have as many emotional scars from due to not being part of the story.
Because, to a degree, you have folks like that in the US who basically ride on the traumas of their ancestors in order to feel like they went through as much of a struggle as their ancestors and to be on a high horse to a degree.
That isn’t to say that she hasn’t experienced discrimination but much of the above mentioned is something I’ve noticed with some of these folks.
Third, she goes on about the “English-privileging education systems" or "English-only programs."
Now, on the "English-only programs," I'm guessing she's not just talking about the education system.
And I've already addressed it outside of education.
As I said, you got politicians pandering to you by speaking in Spanish on both sides of the aisle.
You got plenty of Spanish language in the culture (songs and other forms of art).
You got Spanish language news programs that even translate the US Presidential debates for you (among other news they provide).
And, as a side point, this isn't to say that Latinos don't have their own problems as a community in the US.
But let's not pretend either that, despite the racists, you do have plenty of Spanish language media to consume.
Then we have the "English-privileging education system."
Meaning schools that teach English in which the teachers want you speaking in English in class.
Again, I’d ask if English was her native language or was it not?
If it was, then I’d argue there wasn’t much discrimination against her here because it was her native language.
In fact, plenty of Latinos are comfortable speaking English in the US and plenty prefer it!
And, if you were born speaking English, then it wasn't like you entered the country with a separate language and forced to speak something you weren't.
I get the idea that "well, Spanish is part of my heritage. Therefore, I should speak it in the classroom."
But I also find that logic to be weird because the author ties all of this together into "decolonization" against "white supremacy."
Which, if we were to really go about this logically, then how is Spanish any different than English when both languages came from European countries?
She doesn't seem to be striving to speak any indigenous language (like most Latinos aren't).
So in the same way that the immigrant parents of children were OK speaking Spanish growing up in the classroom as it was the language they grew up with, then why take issue with speaking English when it is your native language?
Now, in part, I get that this a lot more to do with heritage and and being a minority in a country.
In the same way that you have Italian-Americans and children of immigrants of all sorts of other countries that feel culturally, racially or ethnically a minority in the US and want to attach themselves to an identity.
And you can see the same thing in other countries also like this German community in Venezuela.
Among other reasons like Tassja and others of any children of immigrant community would want to retain parts of their heritage (like language).
And that's understandable -- especially if you are a minority of any kind in another country.
Similarly, I like to keep aspects of my own heritage true to me and also I would feel as concerned about having any future children I might have down here to be at least "a little bit American" in whatever way appropriate.
Still, I find it unreasonable to complain about the classroom being taught in English.
Even if Tassja grew up in a largely Latino town where 99% of the population speaks Spanish, I'd still find it problematic for the classroom to be Spanish only because what if Tassja left her island to visit the rest of the US with no English knowledge?
Would be setting her up for a rough time traveling anywhere else in the country.
Though, in that example, it would at least be understanable for why the language in the classroom would be Spanish (assuming all the Latinos in this small town knew Spanish since not all Latinos do).
Still, outside of that scenario, it makes sense for obvious reasons as to why there would be a main language used in the classroom.
How else are you going to communicate to everyone?
As a society (like anywhere else), we all pick a language to work with to understand each other.
If I was to raise a kid in any typical school in Latin America, I'd imagine that Spanish would be the main language.
And then I would ask Tassja or anyone who agrees with her...
"Do I have the right to complain about how my kids have to speak Spanish in a Chilean classroom? Are they oppressed by this Spanish centric classroom?"
Even more so if I was living in a part of Latin America that has more Americans who live there like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico to Cuenca in Ecuador....
I imagine just about all of them would be hypocritical and tell me to piss off.
"No, it's OUR country! In OUR country, we speak Spanish, god damn it!"
Oh, OK, I see.
Though, as a side point, I've heard some private schools do supposedly have more English language instruction if needed in some circumstances down here in Latin America.
So I could see the argument here that, for sure, on a global scale, English has more value and respect certainly over Spanish.
Still, the point is the same, I can't expect most classrooms in Latin America to accommodate to my future children to only speak in English.
In the same way that Spanish is obviously going to not be the preferred language for instruction in most classrooms of the US (all of them, I imagine).
That isn't to say though she has hasn't had a racist teacher who picked her out for being Latina and berated her for saying something in Spanish to another Latino student. That would be wrong and does happen.
But I would argue that's more of encountering a dickhead than suffering a type of systematic oppression that would traumatize her for life.
In the same way that, in a few parts and circumstances of Latin America, you might find someone who bitches at you for speaking English.
That's very rare to be honest in my experience since a lot of Latinos down here want to practice their English.
But I had a case like that in Bolivia where some dickhead gave me heat for talking with a gringo friend of mine.
Was it so traumatizing that I yelled out in anguish "I'M BEING SYSTEMATICALLY OPPRESSED BY A SPANISH CENTRIC SOCIETY!!"
No, I told the guy to piss off and that was it.
At any rate, while I find her to be a bit melodramatic quite possibly, I agree with the obvious statements that plenty of individuals have felt shame about their heritage and how folks have felt pressure to conform to English.
In the same way how, in Latin America, you have plenty of indigenous folks who feel the same shame and pressure to make sure their own kids only know Spanish.
Sure looks like the damn European imposed language of Spanish with all its colonial legacy isn't perfect either....
Just like with my last girlfriend in Mexico who told me about that among her family history.
Still, this is only part of her argument in which she is establishing the foundation for why it is bad for white folks (and only white folks it seems) to speak Spanish.
Let’s get into why now the white woman speaking Spanish was bad from Tassja’s perspective with these quotes:
“She was displaying her ignorance of the history of the Spanish language in the United States. So here’s someone who’s studied Spanish for years, without ever considering the issue of appropriation and privilege that reap her Genteel White Lady self adulation for being ‘well-rounded’ while stigmatizing the same language in brown-skinned people.”
First, how do you know she never considered any privileges she has? She might’ve sat around a campfire talking with the people she met in Latin America all night about her privileges!
When I first took my first trip to Latin America in Chiapas, Mexico, I actually did talk with some folks about some of the issues of their community out of curiosity.
One of them being paramilitary groups in the area that attack them to people migrating away to nearby bigger cities for better job opportunities.
More on that time here.
So it might've been the case that she took the time to listen to the experiences of those she was visiting.
And she very likely could be one of those individuals who always thinks about her privilege as a white person.
Because, as we know, there are plenty of white folks who can’t stop talking all day about how privileged white people are.
Some of whom come across like they are self-hating.
It’s not unusual to see.
So she’s making an assumption there that the white woman never assumed her privilege and also that she doesn’t know the history of the Spanish language in the US.
From learning Spanish, it might be the case that she has learned a thing or two.
In fact, during my 8 years studying Spanish formally, I learned a shit ton in class about the history of Spanish in the US and also about various Latin countries.
It was often the case that each chapter of whatever textbook was dedicated to a certain country.
"This is the Mexico chapter. The Cuba chapter."
And most of the professors were Latino or Hispanic that would bring light to life in Latin America.
Including all the learning I did actually living down here for 6 years and counting.
And, from what we know, this lady has supposedly done a bit of traveling herself away from the typical Cancuns of Latin America.
The question I would also have is “how much learning of the Spanish language in the US and her privilege” does she need to do to make her speaking Spanish be OK?
Her argument isn't very strong if she doesn't tell us how much learning we need to do in order for us to not worry on "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
Which is a side point -- some of her argument comes across like a piece to bitch about a white person speaking Spanish better than her Latino boyfriend and she doesn't elaborate strongly on her poor logic regarding how much of this ties into cultural appropriation.
Also, as I said before, Spanish isn’t just a language of brown people.
Then, if I’m understanding that last sentence correctly, assumingly this white woman is also “stigmatizing the same language in brown-skinned people?”
But how is she "stigmatizing" the language?
According to this source here, to stigmatize is to "set some mark of disgrace or infamy upon."
This doesn't sound like putting a "mark of disgrace" on the language.
She has respected the language so much by wanting to and putting in the effort to learn it so she can give proper respect to the people she works with in Latin America by being able to communicate with them properly.
Having lived in Latin America, I can tell you how much of a positive reaction I get by some of the locals for the fact that I speak any bit of of Spanish at all.
It usually stems from ignorance on their part regarding the ability of a foreigner to learn it since many are not exposed to too many foreigners.
But it still is sometimes met with a perspective that is was respectful of me to learn it to begin with.
Especially since, in my context of living in Latin America, there's plenty of gringos also who don't learn it and stick to the gringo tourist trail where English will work enough to get around.
Anyhow, that story we were given didn’t show any "disgrace" to the language to me but let’s move on.
“So, not only is Genteel White Lady benefitted immeasurably by the same historic conditions that ensure people in certain countries “have nothing”, but she is able to speak for those people and assure herself that they are, indeed, happy and content.”
First off, stop with your bullshit that "people have nothing" down here.
This retarded mindset that everyone in Latin America is some poor brown person who lives in a "shack on the outskirts of town" and "who don't got nothing."
Not every Mexican is like that, Mister Ruckus!
And not every Latino in Latin America is either.
While the US has a middle class percentage of 52%, Latin America as a whole has a middle class percentage of 25.8%.
For more information on the middle class percentages by Latin American country, check out this source that has data from 2011 here.
It is a little bit outdated and so I imagine the percentages are likely even a little bit better now despite the Covid Recession (in the long run anyhow as we exit this scenario we are in).
Of course, some countries doing better than that (like Chile or Uruguay) while others doing worse (Bolivia or Paraguay).
And, of course, you got some folks who do better than middle class also in Latin America as a whole.
Either way, Latin America isn't this place where nobody has nothing.
Your words literally -- "have nothing."
They have something, god damn it!
And, keep in mind, I don't hang out with the richest of Latinos.
I have been invited to parties though by rich Latinos so I can be the "token gringo friend" once in a blue moon.
And I do have some Latino friends who do have relatively nice jobs.
But most Latinos I have met in Latin America were by no means rich or even upper middle class.
Yet, despite that, only a few communities I've seen were "relatively bad."
Like this community I visited in Paraguay here.
Or this community in Brazil here.
Or this Dominican chick named Germania that I hooked up with who lived in a very bad neighborhood of Santo Domingo as you can read here.
Plenty of other communities that exist like those also with folks with relatively little income!
But with still something!
With, as we all know, plenty of income inequality down here like in other parts of the world.
Despite all that, almost none of the locals that I have met or hang out with were or are "with nothing."
Especially those who were not living in "the barrio" or some really rural village that few visit.
You also have plenty of people in Latin America who are not necessarily marginalized but live completely healthy lives.
In fact, a shit ton of people are like that!
Not everyone in Latin America is some poor indigenous person living on 50 bucks a month and suffering immensely.
When I walked outside of my apartment today, I said "buenas tardes" to the neighbor next door. He was cooking eggs and some shit while listening to Pink Floyd.
Is he oppressed?
I don't know but he looks fine to me.
Haven't seen him weeping into the night all alone in a dark corner muttering to himself "I AM SO OPPRESSED! THE KING OF SPAIN HAS MURDERED MY FAAAAAAMILY!"
But I could be wrong -- he might be oppressed.
Just the other day he was bitching about how the 7-11 nearby ran out of Captain Morgan Rum.
Among other chill folks I know down here.
You even have plenty of locals who have a shit ton more money than I do!
A Mexican friend of mine named Angie -- who is VEEEERY brown -- makes more than I do most likely as a computer programmer.
Her oppression these days has been not being able to attend EDM festivals because of public events being cancelled and all these days.
On top of that, I remember a Brazilian-Bolivian guy named Sergio that I met in Cochabamba who was always at some of the bars I went to.
Our conversations of the night didn't focus on "the EVILS of America supporting Latin dicatorships!" or the "DESTRUCTIVE LEGACY OF SPAIN AND PORTUGAL!
Instead, it focused on "how hot that girl is" to "you like rum and coke also?"
In that same Bolivian city of Cochabamba were we met, there was some arrogant jackass professor who was the dad of the first home stay I lived at....
His oppression involved getting annoyed whenever I tried to make small talk with him or having to bitch at the cleaning lady for not inspecting every inch of the kitchen floor properly.
Across the border from there....
There was an Argentine chick named Tami that I hooked up a few times with that you can read about here.
She lived a completely normal life but her oppression had nothing to do with some historical forces but instead how she would cry to me about her dad being a deadbeat that now wants to be in her life again.
And her "struggles" in life represents actually most Latinos I have met in Latin America.
In that the struggle of the decade had nothing to do with some historical oppression by Spain or the US but actually were local shit in their lives.
Like a Bolivian gal I hooked up with named Mariana who was sexually abused by her dad as you can see here.
To Tami with the deadbeat dad.
Or an Argentine woman I knew named Monica who was sad that her long time cat died.
To a Bolivian guy named Mau whose main gripe was how his students in his math class never paid attention.
Along with a Guatemalan teacher who I had some beers with her and her husband and how their issue of the day was dealing with a roof problem in their home.
And how, in Mexico City right now, problems among people I have met and am friends with equally range from extreme shit like childhood sexual abuse or being extorted by the cops to the metro taking too long to commute to work.
Among everything else.
And so that's the larger point I'll end this part of the article on...
Which is that there is a necessity to discuss the "colonial" legacy of countries like the US, Spain and others in Latin America (even though most countries in the world have had a rough past that they have worked past) and also the regional inequalities in the world also.
But, on the other hand, the issues of the day that most people experience have little relationship to any of that outside of certain communities and many of these larger scale issues (like narco violence or corrupt dictators) are also equally caused by local Latino elites who fuck shit up greatly as well.
But beyond those larger scale issues....
Most people in Latin America live completely normal lives with their own struggles that, more often than not, have to deal with completely different shit than what Tassja seems capable of understanding.
In large part because she, like many others in the US or other countries, seem to comprehend all of Latin Americas as being poor brown indigenous people with, in her words, "nothing."
Makes no fucking sense to me.
More on that topic here.
Second, we have the topic of "benefiting from historic conditions."
Well, the white lady definitely has benefited from these historic conditions.
So have I!
And quite possibly the author has also but we have no idea who Tassja really is.
For example, let’s assume Tassja is an American citizen.
If that is the case, then she also benefits from easier movement around the globe from being able to get a US Passport (something she herself pointed out about the white woman).
Plus, by being from the US (like many non-white people are), she benefits from being from one of the most powerful countries in the world that, from her perspective likely, exploits other non-white countries.
Like the war we had with Iraq as a famous example of our lifetime.
So let’s not pretend that Tassja doesn’t have any privilege herself in this regard if she is from the US.
I’d argue she does to a degree.
Reminds me of this CIA video here where they had this Latina chick talk about working for the CIA and her family history.
Might’ve well as said “my parents moved from Latin America during a time of CIA funded coups. Now I am the coup!”
Is she privileged?
Quite possibly in some ways.
Then Tassja goes on about how the white woman is “speaking for” the people she met in Latin America.
Arguably, that is true.
As I wrote here, I sometimes think the assessment gringos make down here about how “the poor people in villages are so happy!” is often bullshit.
So I’d take her side on this one when it comes to calling that out.
Still, I don’t see much harm here.
People meet others all the time in a wide variety of communities and then recount their experiences and their impressions of others when talking about it later.
I guarantee you that if Tassja had met some indigenous folks in Chiapas or wherever, that she’d likely have made observations about them that she would tell others about.
As a result, could you argue that Tassja is speaking for marginalized people?
Because Tassja comes from a more privileged point being a resident or citizen of a more comfortable country than the average individual living in the Zapatista communities as you can read here.
On top of that, given that Tassja also speaks English, she can write pieces like the piece I am dissecting in which it would reach a larger audience than whatever an average person in rural Chiapas would reach.
Which is likely part of her argument about the "privilege" of being a white person from the US.
Though the written word in English of non-white people (like Tassja) from a country like the US would have that privilege also.
Especially in the age of social media where things can go viral more easily.
And, if we are being fair, things in Spanish go viral all the time from those in Latin America on social media like Twitter.
So folks down here can "speak for themselves" as well.
Of course, Tassja could also be speaking of those being able to "speak for others" in large news organizations like CNN or Fox News.
But, as far as we know, the white lady doesn't have that reach because she's likely just part of a mission group or some shit.
So her "speaking for others" isn't going to reach as many voices if we are being honest.
In the real world, her "speaking for others" doesn't extend beyond a Facebook comment that more than half of her 137 friends will scroll past while they wait for the Jimmy Johns sandwich to be delivered.
Specifically, a JJ Gargantuan with a bag of jalapeño chips and some large black iced tea.
Regardless, because Tassja isn’t white, I guess she might consider it OK for her to "speak for others" then even though she comes from a privileged point relative to them.
And all this about "media" comes up next (among other points).
“The day when all peoples have equal access to large-scale media, when all peoples can travel with the same freedom, when all peoples have equal and humanized representation in the global cultural landscape, THEN we can talk about cultural exchange and how cultures can benefit from influencing each other.”
Again, why are you assuming weird shit about people down here in Latin America?
First, you really mean people down here don't have access to "large-scale media" like newspapers, radio or TV?
Are you fucking stupid?
I live here.
I can literally walk outside of my apartment right now and buy a newspaper.
It doesn't cost much and plenty of locals grab one on the way to work.
Well, I feel older folks in any country use the TV more than younger people like myself.
We prefer the internet and social media more to be honest.
And radio? I mean, hop on a bus and you might hear the radio playing something.
Similar to TV, I don't see many folks using a radio but that's because they are being phased out.
And on social media as another form of media?
Plenty of people have social media.
I haven't met a single person here who doesn't have social media.
Outside of maybe the homeless dude I saw yesterday by Copilco area of Mexico City who threw a cardboard box on the ground onto a pile of vomit...
And yelled (seemingly on drugs) to his homeless friends about how "they shouldn't leave a mess vomiting everywhere. I have to clean up after you!"
Outside of him, literally 99% of people I have met down here have social media!
Hell, even in that small village area of Chiapas that I mentioned, I saw people with phones that had access to things like Whatsapp or Facebook.
Shit, I even saw some kids playing on Youtube on a computer!
Granted, it looked like one of those cheap thick ass screen computers from the 90s but a computer nonetheless...
If even they had access to social media (and other forms of technology) in their small village, most people do down here.
Second, you have the "worldwide travel bit."
Well, that's true.
Not every nationality comes with a passport that is as strong as others.
Though I don't see that as big of an issue either.
To begin, most people in Latin America are not dying to travel to another country.
It's something that would be cool to do like anything else but it's not on top of every person's mind.
On top of that, not every Latin passport is worthless.
Plenty do allow easy enough access to travel around!
If curious, here's a source on the relative strength of different Latin passports and how they compare to the rest of the world:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Dominican Republic
In fact, some of these countries are ranked rather respectfully relative to the rest of the world on the Passport List in that source above.
Ranking in places like numbers 14, 15, 19, 27, 29 and other spots on the list....
And ranking better than places like Vatican City, Taiwan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.
So, let's not pretend that everyone in Latin America is doomed to not ever being able to get a decent enough passport (or that they feel a huge need to travel elsewhere anyhow).
On top of that, while obviously not everyone has the money to do so, plenty do for sure.
Like I said, not everyone in Latin America is in deep ass poverty screaming to the gods from their small village "WHY!!! WHY AM I POOR!!"
Hell, I had an ex-girlfriend from Colombia who lived in a relatively shit neighborhood that I was warned against visiting by a taxi driver and yet even she was able to travel around Europe eventually.
A neighborhood that you can read about here.
And, like I said, she didn't come from money and still made it work through circumstances that didn't involve me giving her any money either to do so.
And, truthfully, such world wouldn't likely ever exist when it comes to allowing everyone equal access to travel.
You would literally have to subsidize through public funds the cost of travel to other countries for even the poorest of people and also convince every government in the world to not have immigration laws.
Which, as I implied before, even Latin countries have immigration laws against other countries that they have noticed send more poor individuals looking to immigrate illegally.
In fact, you can get a taste of that in this article I wrote here in which you got cases like Cubans trying to get into Mexico illegally to Chinese mafia folks trying to get into Costa Rica.
So regardless of if you believe in eliminating immigration laws to make it easier for people to immigrate, you''re not getting rid of it.
Even in Latin America.
Especially because there are solid reasons for why you'd want to know who is coming into your country.
Not everyone is coming in with the purest of intentions (though most are normal).
Third, you then have the "equal and humanized representation in the media."
Now, to be fair, I get the complaint here.
Try talking to a Colombian about "cocaine and Pablo Escobar," and you'll be shot in the face.
They don't want to hear it.
But the stereotype of their country being all just that gets on them easily enough.
And you have other things like Mexicans getting tired of everyone assuming that their country is one giant desert full of narcos.
Now, to be fair, there is obviously smoke behind the fire for both cases.
Yes, Colombia still produces lots of cocaine and Mexico has plenty of narcos.
But the idea is the same -- the media, when talking about those countries, largely focuses on those issues and doesn't shed as much light on other aspects to life down here.
I find it ironic though that Tassja is talking about "representation in the media" when she has, from my perspective, been portraying Latin Americans as people "with nothing" and all the other weird sentences she put out in her piece.
Regardless,I don't agree with the logic that, because CNN or Fox News covers drug violence in Mexico or Colombia too often, then two individuals can't have "cultural exchange" that benefits everyone (in Spanish, English or whatever language).
In fact, you can argue such a cultural exchange is needed!
Because if the gringo and the local Latino (from whatever country( are not having their cultural exchange, then stereotypes will persist!
The Latino will continue to be ignorant and think that all Americans are white, don't speak Spanish, are fat and deeply racist against them.
Among whatever stereotypes that the locals have about us that are not always justified that I have seen held by plenty down here in Latin America.
And the gringo is even less likely to come to the conclusion that people in Latin America "have nothing" like Tassja stated.
Or that not everyone is running for cover as narco bullets fly through the air.
And whatever crazy shit a gringo with no "cultural exchange" with a Latino from Latin America might have.
Furthermore, we should probably tie this all back into the topic of "speaking Spanish."
Given that not everyone in Latin America speaks English, then non-Latinos speaking Spanish helps facilitate that much needed cultural exchange so we can overcome the poor representation in the media.
So actually, Tassja's statement and her issue with non-Latinos speaking Spanish are harmful in countering the negative effects of a lack of proper representation in the news media.
Good going Tassja -- you're making people more ignorant!
The dangerous part here is really, from my perspective, you could take Tassja’s argument and find a way in which it would argue for cultural nationalism.
That if we aren’t going to exchange culture (like speaking other languages) until everyone is equal (which will never happen)…
Then screw it – we aren’t interacting!
In that sense, it’s arguably more dangerous because people not interacting with those of other cultures in their languages will only lead to people being more closed minded and maybe continue any internal hate or prejudice they have against others.
Of course, in the mind of Tassja, I think she’d prefer any interaction to be a one way street in which white people should only listen and never contribute to a conversation with non-white people dictating it.
That’s not really an interaction either but instead a very closed minded approach to life where you don’t want to be open to the possibility that the people you are prejudiced against might have a point or not be as antagonistic as you imagine them to be.
In large part because, if we are being honest, I feel much of this stems from her having a prejudice against white people in general.
In the same way she seems to like gatekeeping everything Latin America and Spanish to just brown people (even though plenty of white people live down here also).
Here’s an interesting quote from her to end that point on.
“I’m sorry white peeps. I know it’s hard having an identity that’s negatively defined.”
Either way, you can really summarize a good chunk of argument into three bits sprinkled with an anti-white sentiment:
One, it's bad to speak Spanish because other Latinos in the past were told to not speak in it in a society that speaks another language (English) and that those like the white lady don't understand that.
Which, as I have said, it doesn't make it cultural appropriation to speak Spanish (especially if that white lady never berated a Latino for speaking Spanish) just because someone was racist to you.
That your anger should go against those people and, in all likelihood, though it might be hard for you to realize, she probably has learned a thing or two in her travels and studies.
On top of that, you never defined how much she has to learn to justify speaking Spanish.
Two, any "cultural exchange" can't happen until everyone has equal access to things like representation in the media and travel.
Which, as I said, doesn't make sense because none of us work for the media and any cultural exchange in any language would help combat previous ignorance that can be a consequence of poor media representation and lack of real world experience.
Plus, you'll never have the case where literally everyone has equal access to travel and most people do have access to media (social media, TVs, etc).
Finally, there was the ignorant sentiment she had about about just how poor everyone is down here and what they have access to.
Regardless, that's the summary of a good deal of her argument in favor of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
Let's move on.
Round 2: Another Critical Piece
Next, we have this Tumblr piece that you can read here.
Supposedly, a lot of this talk about “is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation” came from Tumblr but I couldn’t verify that.
Anyway, someone poses a question asking the author if it bothers them if someone speaks Spanish and "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
I find this Tumblr piece to be a little bit less antagonistic and a little bit more fair in its take.
But let’s dive in.
“Like honestly my automatic reaction when people tell me they’re learning Spanish is to roll my eyes. Because first of all why are you telling me”
Though I think some of these folks in question might simply be trying to relate to you however you can (given she is Latina)….
I agree with the sentiment here and really can’t disagree – I find it just as annoying when a local upper-class fresa Latino runs up to me and goes “i SpEaK eNgLiSh!!!!!!1!1!!1!!”
It gets fucking annoying.
But, over the years, I try to be a little bit understanding in that some just want to be nice and find a common thing we can relate to.
Others, however, are ignorant jackasses who can’t comprehend how a foreigner could learn Spanish but that’s a topic I’ve already beat to death in my blog.
“Obviously, there are many great reasons to learn Spanish (it’s a beautiful language, there’s a lot of amazing poetry …….”
Normal reasons to learn Spanish!
Reminds me of my high school days before I was introduced to the world of severely autistic PUAs running to Latin America to have sex with everything that moves.
I almost forgot that there are other reasons for why people learn Spanish outside of trying to smash the pussy walls of the local Latinas down here.
But I agree!
It’s a beautiful language and there’s a lot of good reasons to learn it outside of collecting STDs like Pokémon cards.
“I do have a level of resentment to the fact that both of my parents have lived in this country for almost thirty years and still catch shit for their pronunciation of English, while I’m supposed to throw a frickin’ parade for some kid with two years of high school Spanish for deigning to make the effort and stumble through inquiries about where the bathroom is”
Is every kid who vomits on you his broken Spanish looking for a parade?
But as I said, I think it’s likely a case of your friends just trying to find a commonality with you.
Granted, I understand again the shit she is talking about her – pronunciation of the foreign language.
Once in a blue moon, I get shit on for my pronunciation also down here.
Though I would also ask if her resentment comes from the issue she brings up or does it come from, in part, something else?
One thing I’ve always suspected when going through this content about cultural appropriation online in the last few hours…
And thinking about some of the Latinos I’ve known from the US…
Is that, from my impression, some of you all really seem insecure as shit when you meet a non-Latino speaking Spanish better than you do.
Granted, she might speak Spanish perfectly and no resentment comes from that.
But, like I said, it’s always been my impression that some Latinos back home are like that when it comes to their insecurity about their Spanish ability relative to a non-Latino.
Imagine the resentment then when one comes out of the shadows throwing at you Spanish on a level with Eddie Murphy in this video here.
“Also the fact that efforts continue to be made to exclude Spanish and Spanish-speaking people from public schools and public spheres, while little white kids are encouraged to take it as an elective because it “looks good”, does bug me.”
Again, I’d wonder if she is cool with her non-Latino black or Asian friends throwing at her some Spanish.
More prejudice against white folks?
Well, let’s not beat the dead horse again.
Though I agree with the point she makes here about efforts against the Spanish language.
The article she quoted anyway was a Huffington Post article about Mexican-American Studies being banned in Arizona.
Which that is stupid.
And I get the contradiction she sees in which efforts are made against things like Mexican-American Studies or Spanish but yet you see individuals wanting to speak Spanish with you or other examples like that.
Still, like the point made before, her high school friends are not responsible for that action taken against Mexican-American Studies.
Their parents might be though (depending on who they voted for)!
And they might be responsible also depending on who they vote for in the future!
“the real reason most people learn Spanish as opposed to another language in the US is that it’s usually offered at schools, it’s considered easier and more “useful” than French”
That and they are forced to if they want to graduate normally. In high school and college, they had it required that we learn a foreign language.
Most wouldn’t take it at all if they didn’t have to.
“And in my experience people with public school/resume level Spanish are…not great at it. Which is fine! (I mean it’s not; how much bullshit do you think Latinx Americans who learned a bit of English in school before coming to the US get? A LOT”
I agree that it is bullshit to give bullshit to those trying their best in whatever language.
Granted, if we are being fair, not all of them ever try to learn English in the same way plenty of foreigners go to Mexico without ever learning Spanish.
And, if we are being fair here, let me introduce you to that other side of the coin: foreigners like myself living in Latin America and getting shit for our Spanish.
In my experience, it depends heavily on who you are dealing with and where.
In some countries, like Colombia, Bolivia or Nicaragua, I found the people very friendly despite how good or bad my Spanish was.
In other countries, like Argentina or Uruguay…..
Or specific cities like Mexico City…
I can, more often in those areas, find more pretentious people who can act very snobby and give me a lot of shit for it also.
It goes both ways.
Truthfully, if you go to any country in the world, you’re probably going to find dickheads who will shit all over you because of your language skills (no matter how hard you try).
Even if your language skills are perfect!
Got an accent?
Prepared to get shit on.
And if you speak the language too well as a foreigner, I'd be willing to bet some of the locals will somehow take that wrong and start analyzing the living shit out of your language skills to find AT LEAST one mistake.
In the same way that, from what I've been told, Latinos coming from countries like the US to a country like Mexico are likely to get that treatment from someone down here.
“I had a conversation about it with my mother once, when I was still in, like, middle school and being really pissy about it, and she loves it when people tell her they’re learning Spanish. She thinks it’s valuable that they’re trying to connect, either with her or the broader culture, and thinks they should be cut some slack and encouraged.”
This reminds me of these videos here.
Where basically they have the older parents who are literal immigrants to the US try food of whatever country it claims to be from…
And then the children who are not immigrants themselves.
Here’s a fun quote from one of those videos:
“It's because younger people are less secure with their culture so they want to assert that they are actively a part of their culture and know things about it, while the older people are very secure with the fact that they're Chinese, like they don't need to let anyone know, they just are. Which makes them more open to trying new things because they see it as a compliment to their culture that we tried to make their food instead of an insult.”
You can substitute the word “Chinese” here for Mexican or Colombian or really any nationality from Latin America.
That’s what is going on here with the main quote above in my opinion.
The young kid who is insecure about her heritage living in a community where she isn’t part of the majority but also knows she might not be entirely accepted in whatever country her parents came from.
We all know that if the author here or if most American Latinos were to visit the country of their heritage, many of the locals would see them as being gringos.
Same thing happens at times to deported folks living down here in Mexico from what I’ve seen and heard.
And so, as I said before, I do believe that this insecurity fuels some of the resentment of seeing non-Latinos (especially white non-Latinos)…
Or even maybe white Latinos since not all of them believe Latinos can be white…
Especially if their Spanish is better than her Spanish.
For some of these folks, that might be a painful stab to feel when you see someone not from the heritage speak the language better than you do.
Which, as I said, is part of where much of the tension surrounding this topic comes from in my opinion.
Especially as some Latinos (not necessarily the guy in this video), might feel that not speaking Spanish makes you "not Latino enough."
Literally an attack on your identity.
Of course, someone born and raised in Latin America probably isn't as concerned about being "not Latino enough."
Anyway, let’s move on.
“So I guess MY basic answer is if you want to learn Spanish, nothing’s stopping you. But like anything else, respect the context (the context being: not every Latinx person you meet is going find this particularly interesting, so stop bragging about it and expecting backpats. Also, honestly, NOT EVERY LATINX PERSON YOU MEET IS GOING TO SPEAK SPANISH,
Funny -- "Latinx."
As I wrote here, it’s another topic as to if that word should be used or not. But I'll leave that alone as it's another debate.
I agree anyhow that context matters and to not speak Spanish to every Latino person in the US.
“And even if they do speak Spanish, if they answer you back in English, GO WITH THAT:”
Now can we get upper class fresa Latinos in Latin America to do the same?
Also, respect that some people are going to have personal concerns about why you’re doing it, and be kind of sore about their own issues speaking Spanish in a predominantly Anglo sphere. (Of course my absolute favorite question following the “Oh I’m learning Spanish!” conversation is “Can I practice with you?”, and the answer, obviously, is “Yes of course, my going rate for Spanish tutoring is $17 an hour, cash only, and I round up.”)”
In the same way that I have my own concerns about not wanting to converse with you in English down here.
And I love the response about demanding 17 dollars an hour – that’s exactly how I’ve always phrased it among my friends down here when complaining about locals looking at me like a free fucking English tutor.
If they want me to practice with them, they should pay me! A month’s worth of black tea and vodka!
“As for the cultural appropriation issue, I don’t 100% that’s the right term for it. I think the appropriation applies more accurately to white people celebrating Cinco de Mayo without a) knowing what it signifies and b) while being bang-up in favor of deporting Mexican immigrants.”
I agree it's not a question of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
Wrong term -- exactly.
Though I love how again her focus is literally only on white people.
We’ll never have a productive conversation on race in this country if half the population believes that only white people are capable of doing dumb shit racially.
Otherwise, you’ll continue to fall on deaf ears to a significant portion of the population while never being open minded yourself.
I disagree though on finding it problematic for folks celebrating something like Cinco de Mayo and wanting to enforce standard immigration protocols.
And plenty of legal immigrants in our country would agree.
Nothing wrong with celebrating other cultures but every country in the world (including Mexico) has immigration laws.
Mexico, for example, deports plenty of immigrants itself.
Still, I’d agree with the sentiment of that sentence if we were to phrase it differently like “it’s cultural appropriation if you celebrate 5 de Mayo but literally just hate Mexicans.”
Which, no, someone who is cool with legal immigration and maybe even loosening immigration rules (but not getting rid of them) is not hypocritical if they also like aspects of other cultures.
In the same way that Latinos in Latin America might respect the culture of other Latin countries but don't want a shit ton of illegal immigrants from other Latin countries like you can read here.
“and to be fair: a lot of white people already speak Spanish; most Spaniards, for instance, are white, and white Latinxs exist & never tire of reminding us of the fact”
Yes, Latin America is not just a region of only brown people and there are white people who live there and speak Spanish also.
Anyway, her last point really is how about how she believes white people learn Spanish mostly because of the college credit (which is true) and also so they can speak with “poor Latin people.”
Which is false because most white people are not dying to speak with Latinos and will usually assume (though maybe not always) that you speak English if we met in the US.
Anyway, that was enjoyable to dissect the arguments of two pieces on this subject.
I only looked at what I could find on the front page of Google when looking this up so those were the two articles that I found to have the most engaging content to work with.
But this article is long as fuck!
So let’s summarize the main points I’d want to emphasize that have likely been said before in all of this argumentation.
So that's everything on "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
Here are the main points that I've had while writing this article for those who skipped ahead:
First, stop gatekeeping Latin America and Spanish to brown people. Latin America is a diverse region of people of all backgrounds and also Spain exists. To say that Spanish is a “non-white language” or Latin America is a region only for “brown people” is like saying only white people should be allowed to speak English or that the US is a “white country” when it isn’t.
Second, some American Latinos who were not immigrants tend to be insecure when a non-Latino person (or even a white Latino) speaks Spanish better than they do.
Third, this argument is really, if we are being honest, meant as a tool to project anti-white prejudice by some of these folks (not all) like the first author mentioned.
Fourth, arguing in favor of the question "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation" could logically be used to argue that white people should only stick to European languages (even though Spain is European). Consequently, this could lead to consequences like increased division between people of different races and cultures where people are even more closed minded than before due to more limited interaction between each other.
Fifth, nobody in Latin America gives a fuck about this. Nobody thinks its cultural appropriation or gets angry if you speak Spanish. It’s literally only an argument that North American Latinos who weren’t immigrants get mad about.
Sixth, on the contrary, some of the locals down here can be very excited when they see you speaking Spanish. Similar to the mother of the second author, some of them take it quite nicely.
Seventh, I agree that it’s annoying when locals want to speak your native language with you (especially if you don’t know them). Wanting to charge them money for it feels pretty natural but they never seem to have a thick wallet for such a service.
Eighth, it wouldn’t surprise me if non-Latino white liberals get more angry at this than actual Latinos do in the US. That’s just a theory anyway but they tend to get angry at things when the people who they claim are being victimized somehow are not always angry. Similar to a virgin loser going up to a woman in the street and going “iS hE bOtHeRiNg YoU?!!?!” in a nasal voice.
Ninth, is it cultural appropriation if a non-indigenous Latino in the US wants to “reconnect” with his roots and chooses to learn an indigenous language that his specific ancestors didn’t speak while the modern day people of that indigenous group are very marginalized but the US Latino in question lives in a more developed country like the US?
Especially if that person has no real ties to that indigenous group?Just asking if only white people, no matter the context, can be guilty here.
Tenth, some of the folks making this argument just want a high horse to have some moral superiority to others.
Eleventh, is it still cultural appropriation if I live in Latin America and don’t have plans on going back? Asking for a friend….
Twelfth, even if it was cultural appropriation, who gives a fuck? The real world consequences of a non-Latino speaking Spanish are non-existent. Are there contradictions in life where Latinos have been told to not speak Spanish to this day but yet non-Latino folks get by with it? Yes!
But that doesn’t mean that the non-Latinos speaking Spanish is a bad thing.
Nor is that a good argument in favor of the question "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
Target your anger at the racists who berate Latinos for speaking Spanish in public. Otherwise, your argument breaks down to “well, my parents got berated for speaking Spanish so I’m going to berate you for it under the title of cultural appropriation.”
At the end of the day, banning people from speaking Spanish doesn’t resolve the long history of discrimination that Latinos have experienced.
Thirteenth, you could arguably make the case that telling non-Latinos that they can’t speak Spanish in the US only reduces the influence that the Spanish language and Spanish language content has in the US.
If the rest of the country isn’t learning Spanish or cares about Spanish language content, then its popularity and reach are minimalized than how they would be otherwise.
Fourteenth, I’d agree that there isn’t much point in learning a language like Spanish if you aren’t willing to dig deeper into the cultures behind it or have something deeper that motivates you. For myself, that’d be continuing my life down here in Latin America.
Fifteenth, Spanish is spoken on just about every continent in countries that are not Latino so speaking Spanish isn't just a "Latino" thing. More insight into that in the comment section.
Sixteenth, the only way I could see it being "cultural appropriation" is if someone from a culture that didn't speak Spanish was speaking Spanish while at the same time trying to "pass" like someone who is Latino or wherever else they speak Spanish.
Like someone who tales a Spanish song, changes the lyrics and title and tries to pass it off as their own without giving credit.
Seventeenth, there are many reasons though for why someone would learn Spanish without being disrespectful of any of the cultures where Spanish is spoken and that's how most people do it.
Anyway, that's all!
That was one long ass article on the topic of "is speaking Spanish cultural appropriation?"
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racist for white to speak spanish only latin people speak spanish screw u i hop that lot of latin people give u a fist stick to ut own kind white dont belong here