Fake Latino! Tan White Boy! F*$#ing Perro! Those were just some of the taunt and insults I had to endure as an English only Latino growing up in New York City. None of those despicable words were uttered by children of other racial groups. They all came from members of my own culture. I believe that being an English only speaking Latino in America is one of the hardest things one can exist as in this country. For not only do you face the classic racism and stereotypes from outside sources but you are looked upon with literal disgust by Spanish speaking Latinos. You are seen as the very bottom of the barrel. The sad truth is that a Spanish speaking Latino that is an alcoholic is more respected in the general Latin community then a hard working English only speaking Latino. Essentially English only speaking Latinos are outcasts among their own people.
Often, non-Latinos upon finding out an American born Latino does not speak Spanish give an expression of confusion. Although this is a far cry from expressions of disgust or pity (which are the expressions that most Spanish speaking Latinos give), it is still humiliating. However I attribute the misguided generalization that all Latinos speak Spanish to Hollywood and their depictions of totally bi-lingual Latino American families in T.V. and Movies. Thus the confusion expression although embarrassing is totally understandable. In reality many 2nd and 3rd generation Latinos born in America are only English speaking. This is mostly do because they were deliberately made ignorant of their native tongue by their parents, in the hopes that speaking only English would aid their children in cultural assimilation. Years ago speaking Spanish in public often made a person subject to taunts and sometimes victims racially charged acts of violence. Even in schools speaking Spanish was often grounds for suspension or other disciplinary action. Thus many of the elders which received this discrimination against their native language opted to spare their children similar experiences and teach them only English.
Times have greatly changed since then. With the massive immigration of native Latinos from their respective countries Spanish is now seen as a prerequisite for claiming Latin ancestry regardless of the purity of ones bloodline. This has left a good portion of 2nd and 3rd generation Latinos without a cultural identity and the recipients of harsh and often cruel treatment at the hands of their Spanish speaking brethren. I personally have been: beaten, spit on and even put down (in a most crude and despicable fashion) publicly by a teacher. All because I was Latino but could not speak Spanish.
I like many others have since took up the task of learning Spanish and am coming along slowly but surely. I have however decided to turn my back on my so called “people” as I feel they turned their long ago. But not all of them, just the ones that judge my ancestry by my tongue and not my blood. To me they are the fakes! A real Latino seeks to help his brothers, he does not cut him down over trivial things, and they above all seek to unite and not divide.Those English only speaking Latinos like myself are not going away. We will continue endure the shame and humiliation at the hands of those who look like us. To them I say “We may never be Latino in your eyes but there is one thing you will never be in any ones eyes that is American, And that’s what I am! I am a proud American, and if that means I cannot be Latino and only speak the language of other Americans then so be it!”