Bilingual is Better
Apr
16
2009

A Child of Two Worlds – An Opinion

Posted by:  |  Category: Must Reads

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Photo by JAG Photography

I recently read something which left me livid. I posted the link on Sunday as part of our weekly Yo Quiero Links and promised I would write about it, so here we are. To truly understand what I’m talking about, however;  I think you need to read it yourself.

Here’s a recap, just in case… Published last week, “A Child of Two Worlds,” is  a guest post on The New York Times‘ blog, Motherload: Adventures in Parenting. In it, the author claims she worries about how detrimental it could be for her biracial (American mother/Colombian father) child to be considered more Latina than White.

Before I even get into the heart of the matter, the fact that the author describes her daughter as biracial speaks volumes about her incomprehension – to put it lightly – of this topic. Hispanic/Latino is NOT a race, but an ethnicity, so unless her husband is Black, Asian or American Indian – which she does not divulge in her post – her child is not biracial. There are many Latinos who are as white as white can be, believe me, I know, my mother is one of them. Blond hair, blue eyes, light skin. She usually gets asked if she is German, but she is 100% Peruvian.

I have read and re-read the article in question including the more than 300 comments it has elicited and before I go any further, I need to clarify that the fact that the author is praised for a “well-written” and “honest” piece is ABSOLUTELY besides the point. These compliments are the equivalent of ignoring the elephant in the living room. The author’s blatantly racist comments are so obvious, it is unbelievable to me that people would actually ignore them by saying how “brave” and “honest” she is for coming out and saying these things. Can we please just concentrate on what she is saying and not how she is saying it?

Many of the comments on this article were appalling. Let’s start with this one:

“Yeah, my kid was of two cultures, and, yes, she would learn Spanish and English, but to emphasize her Latina side, I felt, was somehow a disservice.”

How people get away with saying stuff like this, I don’t understand. How and why The New York Times would actually publish such a racist and ignorant piece is beyond my comprehension. As much as I believe in and support the First Amendment, as any respectable journalist would, I can not for the life of me see the point in publishing such a ridiculous and unfounded tirade.

The definition of disservice is: a harmful action. How can teaching her daughter about her Latina side be harmful to her? And if she truly believes this, then I guess she did a great disservice to herself by marrying a Latino. It is because of people with these type of limited views that racism and prejudice endure and propagate.

Here’s more: “Yes, I wanted her to be bilingual, but I didn’t want Spanish to be the language she identified with most.”

Again, what is the problem with Spanish? Might be the author’s way of covering her own insecurities as a monolingual American? I guess it would behoove the author to visit SpanglishBaby so she could see for herself the amazing benefits of raising a bilingual child and what a true disservice it is not to do so given her family’s dynamic.

Towards the end of the article, she says: “If Latinos ruled the world, maybe I’d push things to go the other way, but political correctness and cultural diversity aside, I want her doing well in life — money, success, respect, opportunities, and, most of all, safety.”

¿Perdón? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is she saying that only whites can do “well in life?” To quote part of the comment Ana left on The New York Times’ website: “Have you noticed our President isn’t Caucasian??! I sure feel he did ‘well in life’!”

Is this just a totally ignorant comment? Can it truly be the author believes money, success, respect, opportunities and safety are only achievable if the color of one’s skin is white. Should we maybe enlighten her with the fact that – as reported by Forbes not too long ago – the third wealthiest man in the WORLD is Mexican? That through the years there have been more than 20 Nobel Prize Latino/Hispanic/Spanish winners in categories such as Literature, Medicine, Peace and Chemistry? That many of best-paid athletes in this country are either Black or Latino? Not to mention the countless doctors, lawyers, filmmakers, journalists, artists, singers, teachers, politicians and scientists who are Latino and can attest to doing “well in life.” And I include myself and my family in this list.

The most ironic part of this article is that the author actually complains about being discriminated against during a train trip to Florida with her Colombian husband because they looked suspicious. She claims she was “stunned,” yet her stereotypical remarks (“Abuela Trujillo in Queens will affirm her dad’s culture and Grandma Thompson will affirm mine — salsa dancing and golf, respectively.” Translation: Latino culture=salsa dancing. American culture=playing golf) prove that she’s just like those officers on her train trip to Florida who singled her and her husband out based on looks.

In the end, every parent has the right to raise their children how they please. But with that right also comes the responsibility to raise a child who will hopefully grow up to be a noble and decent human being – which has nothing to do with the color of our skin or the languages we speak. Or at least that’s what I want most for my children, don’t you?

Racism? Discrimination? Prejudice? Or just a mom being “honest” about the realities out there? What do you think? We’d love to find out, so please leave a comment below.

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