Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

“Yes, I do speak Spanish”

with 4 comments

A couple of weeks ago I went to eat at a latin restaurant with my friend Lily. Although we are both Hispanic, most people tend to confuse her for a white girl because of her lighter skin and features. When we sat down to eat the waitress asked me what I would like to order in Spanish. She then turned to my friend and asked in English if she had decided what to eat. My friend answered her in perfect Spanish and the waitress had a look of surprise at finding out she was not in fact white. Although it was a small incident, it has happened several times before. Although she is Cuban, people often treat her differently because she looks white. However, once she starts speaking, they realize she is Hispanic because of her accent. What bothers me about this is that people generally tend to act differently, at times less politely, when they find out she is Hispanic. This goes to show that people still make assumptions based on physical appearance and act differently around people based on their ethnicity or race. They are careful about what they say so as not to offend and are less likely to continue coversation or interactions. Why should people be less motivated to reach out? It’s sad that this is usually what happens.

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Written by brecal

September 13, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. I get that all the time. It’s tough to look past the exterior when you can barely breach the interior of an individual.

    seemenomore123

    September 13, 2009 at 7:31 pm

  2. i get that all the time as well. My family is from argentina however i look extremely american. I barely have an accent since i was raised in states. But i always get so irritated when people are so quick to pass judgement and assume i do not know spanish.

    mzarandy1

    September 14, 2009 at 3:28 am

  3. Some Americans has a misconception that Hispanics must have a dark skin. Most don’t realize that Hispanics come in many different skin tones and we don’t all look like Mexicans. Clearly this is case were the waitress pass judgment onto your friend without realizing that she is fact Hispanic. The real question should be is why did she assume you speak Spanish just because you look Hispanic?

    We do live in a city predominately English speaker. It would be safe to say that most likely you do speak English even though you look Hispanic.

    icet0696

    September 15, 2009 at 3:22 am

  4. I too, have been getting similar treatment my whole life. I was born in Canada after my parents moved from Peru, and learned Spanish as my first language. I look ‘American’ as well because of my European background, and get irritated when other Hispanics find it acceptable to talk about me under their breath or right in front of me, not knowing that I can understand everything they are saying, and act shocked when I end up confronting them about it! I think people in our society are definately too quick to judge, and hope things start changing because a large part of the world’s population is able to communicate in more than one language, which is only going to increase as the years pass.

    alinak88

    September 27, 2009 at 10:49 pm


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