Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez REFLECTION

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.



  1. Hi Dorothy,
    I really enjoyed your post and how you were able to relate the articles to your own life. It was really interesting to read about how your family changed languages when you went to visit your grandmother.

  2. Hey Dorothy,
    I have to say I really enjoyed reading your post and you made some great points. I too, felt extremely bad for Richard when the nuns went to his house and told his family to speaking speaking Spanish. I too, wrote about this in my blog as well. I just can't fathom how someone can demand someone else to give up a part of who they are.
    Great Job!!!! :D

    1. Thanks, Alex! I enjoyed reading your post as well.

  3. Hello Dorothy!
    I as also had the same experience as you while reading this piece. Richard's inability to properly communicate with his parents was heart wrenching. The fact that the nuns went into their house and told them what language to speak in their own home and his parents agreed, just shows how much his parents sacrificed for him to live the life he had. They had done this so their children could feel comfortable in the world around them despite what it would mean for their relationship. I also love the connection you made to your own life as well.
    Rebekah :)

  4. Dorothy,
    The memory you shared with us happens every day, multiple times and it's hard to hear. It's even harder knowing that as someone who speaks only one language, I can't help but feel my only language, my native language, will become obsolete someday in my own country. But then again, I just recently found out that Spanish was actually the first language used in America so maybe it is appropriate. I always joke that I like to study dead languages; English and Latin. So although I don't think what the grocery store employee said is right or justified, espeically because of his tone, I can understand where some of his frustrations may be coming from. Still, his racist and sterotypical remarks were so uncalled for. I wish we could tell people they are wrong when they say things like that without the fear of getting knocked out!
    Even with my own fears, I have never doubted that a person has the right to use their native language or any other language they so choose. All of those words and dilects make up who they are and what matters to them-it is their idenity and we could do everything we can to support them in speaking in whatever way is natural for them. I learned a lot of techniques in the Collier piece that show how to do such that with bilingual students. -Jocelyn B.

    1. Hi Jocelyn,
      I love reading your comments. You have great insights! Thanks for your post! :)

  5. Hey Dorothy,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story about the grocery store in your piece. That is something that I have heard people say on many occasions and realize now even more through our class how wrong it is.
    As always your blog is so well organized and I enjoy reading it.

    1. Aww! Thanks, Shanelle. I appreciate your positive feedback!. :)