Does not knowing my father’s language really mean I’m not Colombian enough?
Disclaimer: Yes, I’m mixed but that doesn’t mean ‘m talking for all mixed kids. There are so many mixes out their but this is just mine and my experience*
I grew up knowing my identity as a daughter of a Colombian father and a Haitian mother, yet I was considered someone who wasn’t “in touch with my roots”. I wasn’t a fluent speaker of Spanish or Creole but does that truly mean I’m less than either? I know I’m not alone in this struggle as many second and even first-generation kids go through the same shit.
Both my parents actively spoke different languages, on top of English. You’d think I’d manage to be fluent in one right? Wrong. Spanish wasn’t discussed enough at home so there was really any way for me to learn it. School barely adapted to our personal educational needs, so what makes you think a fluency in Spanish would be a priority?
People would question my ethnicity because I was not fluent in Spanish. My Spanish isn’t terrible; I can understand some, but if I were dropped off in a Spanish-speaking country I would survive, I just wouldn’t really live in a way. I couldn’t contribute to society the same way I do now with English.
This rarely happens when it comes to my Haitian side, specifically because the relationship between Creole and Haitians isn’t as universal as Spanish is to other Hispanics. But dealing with this on one side of my family didn’t change the fact that the effects it had on me was, in many ways, traumatic.
The fact that I couldn’t speak Spanish was a turn off. Not just for potential romantic relationships, but for friends, strangers and even distant relatives.
How are you Colombian but can’t understand the language?
This was the constant question received from different groups, a constant reminder that I will never be Hispanic enough. If my pronunciation was “wrong” then so was I.