April 29, 2010

You say potatoe and I say "papa"

I recently took up a conversation with a co-worker about how upset I was about the new law passed in Arizona.  She works in the offices in Arizona where SB 1070 bill has now become a law.  In conversation I told her, "There is no way I am going to visit you now my friend, I'm boycotting Arizona!".  She laughed and continued with "Are you kidding me, I don't even speak Spanish anymore!"

Which got me a little bit fired up and saddened.  Here I am trying to raise children who will be bilingual and here is a law that will stifle people who refuse to speak it for fear of racial profiling.  WOW!  Strong message Arizona Governor, you are sending America backwards instead of forward!

I am aware of all that this new law covers.  I understand that immigration has become a problem, and that is not my issue.  My issue is that racial profiling will get out of hand. Citizens who may look a particular way, who for example maybe stopped for a traffic violation will be asked to provide legal proof of citizenship.  Let me tell you, I am Latina, very proud of being one as well as being an American.

Mami is from Ecuador she came from there with a dream to stay.  Yes, she is one of many thousands of people who came on a visitor's visa and stayed. She may not have entered this country with the appropriate papers, but she is here and she has learned the language and even has become an American Citizen.
Sarge's parents, my paternal grandparents,  also came over without papers in a time when there was just a line in the dirt. They made a living through the depression and eventually were in this country legally and raised to very fine American Citizens.
Sarge and the rest of our lineage have been proud American's with Latino roots.  Sarge's manipulation of the Spanish language was far from perfect.  He was very upset that his parent's encouraged him to only speak English for fear of not being able to assimilate to their new country and to be ostersized.  This was the 40's and there was the Zoot Suit Riots and racial profiling was at it's highest in Los Angeles.  My grandparents feared that there son would be targeted. 

Sarge often spoke of his frustration of not being able to communicate well with his parents because of his lack of knowledge of the spanish language.  He wanted to assure that I would be able to communicate with my family and to be able to help others as well.  Sarge made sure Mami only spoke to me in Spanish and that I would know all about both of my parent's culture.  He knew that eventually, while in the school system I would be able to manage both languages and that I would thrive.

Presently I speak to my children in Spanish and Big Cheese speaks to them in English.  That seems to work for now.  I also read to my children in both languages.  Many think I may confuse them doing so, but I want to raise well rounded children. I follow the guidelines for raising bilingual children and so far it seems to work. Now and again Thing One will switch back and forth languages or refuses to speak spanish to me, but it's all expected especially since he is at that age when language and learning are a huge part of his life

I want them to be bicultural as well as decent human beings who will be accepted despite their differences from their peers.  I hope that they will not be misguided in thinking that being of a different race or ethnicty and speaking another language will jeopordize their safety. 

For my co-worker in Arizona I say this:  "Do not fear my friend, be a strong person and don't be afraid of speaking something that come's natural to you."  For those of you who feel the need to keep people in fear: "SHAME ON YOU!" For all other's who believe this this law is infringing on your human rights: Take a stand, tell these politician's what America really stands for "EQUALITY"!  

For Thing One and Thing Two:  "My beautiful babies, don't ever be ashamed of who you are and where you came from or live in fear because of that. You are loved and Mommy will never let anything harm you!"

"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." - Emiliano Zapata

Fuerza mi gente y adelante!

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