Fierce

This Poet Destroys The Haters Shaming Us For Speaking Spanish And Then Takes Pity On Them

Anacristina Chapa’s poem “On Being Bilingual” has a message for those who don’t like it when people speak Spanish. It goes a little something like this: she doesn’t have time for people who try to whitewash her culture of which she is so proud. Despite her frustration, Chapa feels pity and sorrow for the people who are so uncomfortable with a different culture that they feel compelled to lash out.

Poet Anacristina Chapa comes out of the gate swinging with her latest spoken word poem, “On Being Bilingual.”

CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

She continues: “Or, for the sour mouths that speak stupidity into existence by saying things like, ‘This is America. We speak American in America.'”

After that “spicy” intro, she defends her culture and slams those who disrespect it.

CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

Chapa goes in on how even her 87-year-old, non-English speaking grandma will tell you that “American” is not a language. Chapa argues that “American” as it has been used is nothing more than a title used to try to justify ignorance as something that should be valued.

She also has a message for those who feel Spanish is destructive to American culture.

CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

Forget the mic. This poet just dropped the whole damn stage with that line and she isn’t even done.

She even gives some props to the importance of language as a way to transcend borders.

CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

And, yes. She tells anyone listening who feels uncomfortable with that to, “Be scared.” ✊?

She also touches on the benefits to being bilingual.

CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

Chapa isn’t just saying things that sound good and rhyme, either. Being bilingual has potential benefits tied directly to mental health including a stronger resistance to dementia, better concentration skills, and a stronger sense of empathy.

Chapa also displays sympathy for those who question whether Spanish has place in the U.S.

CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

Imagine living in a world where everything happening around you is trying to erode your own identity because you believe that someone living their life directly lessens yours. That must be a truly terrifying and worrisome experience.

She also offers them a little advice.

CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

Because we are far too vibrant of a culture to be defeated and don’t get it twisted: we aren’t trying to force anything on anyone. We are simply living, breathing and existing within our culture.

You can check out her full poem below and it is ? ? ?.

READ: This Poem Is For Anyone Who Has Ever Had Their Name Butchered And Apologized For It

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In “Negra Yo, Pero El No!” A Woman Tears Down The Racism That Exists In Her Mother’s Latinidad

Fierce

In “Negra Yo, Pero El No!” A Woman Tears Down The Racism That Exists In Her Mother’s Latinidad

@2shotsofmely / Twitter

We all know how annoying family can be, nitpicking and offering opinions about how we choose to live our lives. Sometimes, though, our relatives’ perspectives are more than frustrating—they can be hurtful, causing us to question and doubt our place in the world. For many of us, it may be really difficult to address these issues with our loved ones, and we might often need to process these complex situations on our own before we can make any progress within our relationships. For Twitter user Hot Girl Scholar (@2shotsofmely), art was part of this process. She addressed some deep family conflict through poetry, and y’all, Twitter was shook.

According to her pinned tweet, @2shotsofmely and her family emigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic when she was seven years old. In May of this year, she graduated cum laude from Clark University with a BA in English and a minor in Education, ecstatic to dedicate her degree to immigrant and first-generation students. By embracing her role as a “hood girl, educator, and undercover poet,” @2shotsofmely is “living [her] mama’s wildest dreams”—although the poems that have electrified Twitter focus on some hard-to-swallow cultural viewpoints, reiterated by su madre y su abuela.

In poetry, the author of the poem is not always the speaker of the poem, but because of the caption in @2shotsofmely’s post (“Heard it so much I wrote poems about it”), it is clear that these poems—displayed on the walls of Elevated Thought, a Lawrence-based art and social justice organization—are written from her perspective. 

In one poem, “Negra Yo, Pero El No!,” @2shotsofmely acknowledges the hypocrisy (and the shadowy nature of racism and colorism) that defines how her mother reacts to a hypothetical boyfriend: based on the title, we know that @2shotsofmely’s mother is black, yet she proclaims that if @2shotsofmely ever dated a moreno, he must have a thin nose—la nariz fina—green eyes like @2shotsofmely’s grandfather, and “good hair.” In other words, he must not have black features. Why? “Because hay que refinar la raza.”

In the other poem, “LGBTQue?,” @2shotsofmely explores the cultural stigma attached to LGBTQ identities, affirming that her grandmother would “prefer [we] open [our] legs for all the men in the barrio before we walk around with a sister in our arms.”

The original tweet has garnered over 2.3k likes and 900 retweets—people can’t stop gassing @2shotsofmely’s badass display of honesty, the simultaneous pride in and critique of her roots. Several people expressed solidarity, citing events from their own lives that mirrored @2shotsofmely’s poetry.

This Twitter user really related to @2shotsofmely’s experience on the receiving end of her mother’s words.

This Latina responded in Spanish, explaining that her own grandmother married a white man para “mejorar la raza,” but affirmed that it wasn’t her fault—this point of view, according to @ditasea88, is a remnant of colonization.

This Twitter user applauded “LGBTQue?” for its resonance and truth.

Her poems even moved some folks to tears.

Although each of these tweets suggests a common experience which is largely negative, the response to @2shotsofmely’s poetry was rich with compassion—not only for those other Twitter users who share that experience, but for the madres y abuelas whose lives were very different than ours, and who had to make different decisions as a result. History is complex and difficult to synthesize without a broad contextual understanding, and @2shotsofmely’s work draws attention to how cultural patterns from the past can leave a dark impact on the present. However, alongside the criticism and pain at the core of these poems, there is something else: a sense of defiance and hope.

Now, in the midst of the political chaos within our country, it is especially important to celebrate the victories of individuals and groups creating supportive platforms for folks—particularly people of color—to express themselves. It is always exciting to see expressions of Latinidad—from art to poetry to a bomb Insta selfie—spark conversation and communion, even if people are relating about moments that have left them hurt or bruised. In a way, this type of conversation creates a sense of camaraderie, amistad—a feeling of familia.  

And although a lot of Latina familias struggle with antiquated viewpoints (like those presented in @2shotsofmely’s poems), times are changing, and cultural expectations are becoming more inclusive to Latinx people with a range of diverse identities. Often, the more difficult aspects of our upbringing lead us to create meaningful work and connect with others who can relate to us—@2shotsofmely’s poetry is a great example of how intergenerational trauma can produce beauty, connection, and personal growth when you honor yourself and your dreams. @2shotsofmely, you go, girl!

If You Want To Raise Your Child To Be Bilingual, Here Are Some Easy Tips To Make It Happen

Culture

If You Want To Raise Your Child To Be Bilingual, Here Are Some Easy Tips To Make It Happen

Charlein Gracia / Unsplash

One of the biggest challenges faced by migrant families is deciding how to better get their kids to speak both languages. In the case of the Latino population in the United States and other Anglo countries, these idiomas are Spanish and English. Parents face the life altering decision of either fully embracing English at home or keeping the mother tongue alive. The choice might seem easy, but it involves a variety of factors. You might want your kid to be fully fluent in Spanish but don’t want them to feel left out when they go to school and their English is not there yet. You might be alone in the country and want your kids to fully assimilate, even though you don’t want them to lose your language and eventually forget your heritage. They say language shapes worlds and that is totally right: we use words to make sense of reality, to explain who we are to ourselves and to others.

Good news is, kids are really como esponjas, todo lo absorben. Children have an amazing capacity to assimilate words and concepts, and can easily switch from one language to the other if you give them the time and space to learn the difference between the two. By the time they are 18 months old, kids start categorizing the world: that is when they learn shapes, simple concepts like open/close and in/out, and also when they can start differentiating between languages. Like anything when it comes to parenting, there are no cookie cutter solutions or formulas, but here are some tips that can help out. 

No baby talk, ever.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous

It is tempting to do baby talk with your little one. But it does them no good. Babies need to hear clear words, and going goo goo ga ga is not helping them. A good technique is to describe your actions: “I am changing your nappy, I am throwing it to the trash can, I am wiping your butt”. Or, the alternative: “Te estoy cambiando el pañal, ahora lo voy a tirar a la basura y te voy a limpiar las pompas”. Even if you are not raising a bilingual kid, this is the first rule: just dump the baby talk, porfas

Be proud of your heritage.

Children are much more intuitive than we give them credit for. In the current political climate, it is easy to fall into the trap and feel like being bilingual is shameful rather than something to be extremely proud of. Give racist gringos the metaphorical finger, chin up, speak up and show pride. If you are afraid of speaking Spanish your kid will be too. It is easier said than done, but establishing the richness of multiculturalism is the only way to make society more inclusive, poquito a poco

One parent speaks English, the other speaks Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @duallanguagefamily

This is an approach that is easy to take if one of the parents is a gringo. Kids can quickly understand that a parent talks to them in Spanish and the other one in English, and as they are learning to talk and bulking up on their vocabulary, they can categorize words. This is much clearer than saying “agua, water” while pointing to glass, as it might be too much information that is not put into the Spanish or English mental drawers right away. Also, it creates a great sense of complicity between parent and chaparrito

Spanish only con los abuelitos.

Credit: Instagram. @spanish.mama

Another good strategy is to have the grandparents speak to the child in Spanish, which also creates a special bond with the child. If you are lucky enough to have your Spanish-speaking parents or in-laws in your city, program regular play dates slash Spanish lessons. This can also give you and your partner some time alone, or some relaxing me-time if you are a single parent. 

Language is fun, so don’t make it too serious.

Credit: Instagram. @maplebearglobal

Play games in your native language. For example, ‘I spy’, bingo or memory, key activities for incorporating new words into your little one’s vocabulary. You can also play a good old-fashioned LOTERIA. 

Turn life into a lively musical!

Credit: Instagram. @lumunariafunspanish

All kids love, love, love music. You can sing songs, dance and play music in Spanish. What about a daily dance session with La Sonora Santanera or Los Angeles Azules? Melody is a great way to help them remember things, as new information sticks to their tiny and amazing brains by repetition. You can also play English and Spanish versions of their favorite songs… Let it go, let it go…..! Libre soy, libre soy!

Never underestimate the importance of numbers.

Credit: Instagram. @dosmundosduallanguage

One of the first forms of abstraction that human beings learn is numbers. As your kids start counting, introduce both languages. There are some fun activities that you can do, such as taking them to the park and counting each push of the swing, first in English up to ten, luego hasta el diez. You can also get them to count characters or objects in books as you read to them at night. 

Teach them the Spanish version of key introductory phrases.

Credit: Instagram. @dosmundosduallanguage

“My name is…”, a key phrase that establishes a child’s individuality. There are such phrases that make social life possible. Teach your kids the Spanish formulation. 

Listen to the radio.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous

Listen to radio programs in Spanish, including popular music programs and channels for kids. Thanks to services like Spotify it is easy now to listen to stations from all around the world. 

 Playtime!

Credit: Instagram. @language.trainers

Organize playtime with other children who speak Spanish. This will be key for building lifelong friendships. Parenting can sometimes be isolating, so this will also be beneficial for you, as you will be able to express yourself in your mother tongue, which sometimes makes for more intimate and lasting friendships 

No te rindas.

Credit: Instagram. @narrreyang

Like all things concerning parenting, raising a bilingual will involve plenty of patience on your part. Some days it might seem like your chiquito doesn’t want to say hola. However, just hearing you speak your native language will help your child learn it.

Yeah, sometimes your kids end up watching TV.

Credit: Giphy. @nickjr

But you can make the best of it in those times in which you feel you are the worst parent on Earth because you need to do the laundry or some work and your kids end up watching TV. Streaming services like Netflix provide the opportunity to change the language settings to Spanish, so the next time they watch PJ Masks or Paw Patrol they can actually learn some new words. Because dialogue in cartoons tends to be very descriptive, this will help them associate images and palabras

Attend cultural events in Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @ponlenhingles

Many communities in the United States organize events in Spanish, such as playtime, mother’s and father’s groups and concerts. Attend as many as possible, show your kid that your language is awesome, something that will open doors rather than close them. 

READ: This Bilingual Children’s Book Will Teach Little Ones About The First Latina Who Went To Space