Wednesday, November 30, 2011

why I haven't spoken spanish when surrounded by Spanish speakers

This is a hard post.
Mostly, it's because I'm an awkward white person. The speaking of the language where I live is filled with potential pitfalls ot my over-sensitive self, and so I avoid it.
I live in the middle of a hugely Spanish-speaking region, an hour from the busiest border crossing in the world. Spanish-speaking friends have visited and laughed at how they'd do fine without English here, and yet I've let me language skills languish.
I went to school in Texas, and was kind of taken aback by the culture divide between black and white there. I made a few very tentative attempts to cross it, and always felt wholly inadequate to the task at hand. I grew up in white neighborhoods, am sure that I harbor misconceptions and preconceptions about black culture, and certainly don't feel myself when surrounded by people who don't look like me. This is shameful, but true. I can't alk the walk that white americans ask people of color to walk every day: to exist in a culture as an "other" with grace and a sense of humor.
Or perhaps I could, but I've never been really forced to, and have not invited the opportunity.
We're trying. As a family. Because if we're to get better at Spanish, we've got to start taking advantage of the culture that surrounds us. And I feel again, terribly uncomfortable by the social, class and cultural divides that I know I have done little to break down.
We went ot the Spanish service at our church this week, and it was lovely, very small congregation, warm welcome. We'd like to go back, and I don't think it should be a big deal to go. And yet it is. To me, anyway.
I hate that sense of not belonging, and it's especially acute when you don't belong in your very own town, and because of attitudes, social class, and culture that you don't feel very proud of.
That's why I don't speak spanish enough. Here's hoping I can just get over myself.

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