If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of the articles we have read so far it’s that white privilege is at the base of a lot of things. As I read Aria by Richard Rodriguez I saw firsthand the effects of “white privilege.” As Richard described the nuns’ visit to his home I felt sad for his family as they were being asked to speak English in their home. As I continued reading I saw the effects that this request had on his family. His close-knit family turned into a silent dinner table or awkward conversations.
I can sympathize with Richard’s parents. I grew up in an English-speaking home. However, when I visited my dad’s family, especially my grandmother, the conversations were in Portuguese. It was so uncomfortable sitting at my grandmother’s table as her and my dad spoke Portuguese while my mom and I would just sit there wondering what they were saying. I tried to learn the language but for some reason I could never really “catch on.” I can imagine how frustrated Richard’s father must have been when he could not understand what his children and wife were saying or when he couldn’t get the pronunciation of a word correct.
Spanish was the familiar language of Richard and his family, just like Portuguese was for my father and grandmother. It is what Richard calls, their “personal language.” There should be no shame or embarrassment in speaking the language of their (your) family. However, the nuns, in Richard’s article, thought otherwise. I sat their dumbfounded while I read this section, and re-read it for that matter. How on earth could someone go into another person’s home and tell them to stop speaking their language? It’s a sad thing to think about.
I would like to share an experience I had in a store today that proves this way of thinking still exists. I was grocery shopping with my mother and we were going down an aisle to get eggs and milk. A few shelves down from us was a family and that was speaking Spanish to each other. They walked away and I overhead an employee talking to a customer about them. He told the customer that the family was in America and they should be speaking English. He continued on by saying he was sick and tired of it and that “those type of people” make his job harder-they leave the store a mess and make messes in every aisle. He called them “disgusting” and said he was fed up. As he walked away I didn’t know what to do. The words that were coming out of the employee’s mouth stunned me. This experience put all of the articles that we have read, thus far, into perspective.
Point(s) to share in class:
We should not judge people by the language we speak. America is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and languages. We should not be the ones to “limit” a person’s language or further more tell them what language to speak.