Commentary: A love letter to Spanish

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Photo credit: Lizette Gonzalez

The language hallway’s walls are filled with the work of students in Archer’s Spanish, Chinese and French classes. For me, it’s extra special to see the work in Spanish and to walk by classrooms speaking my native language. Like in many places, the Spanish language is what brings a sense of home and security for me.

By Lizette Gonzalez, Senior Reporter

Dear Spanish, 

I don’t know what I would do without every syllable I utter of you. I don’t know what I would do without your accent that randomly escapes when I speak; I wouldn’t feel like myself.

You were the first revelation that told me I was different. Now, I know that you make me different in the most beautiful way possible. You were my first language; therefore, you were all I knew for a while. You were so second nature to me that I never took true time to think about your value. Simply said, I wouldn’t be Lizette without your words, culture and cadence.

I recently noticed I now introduce myself as “Mexican American” or “Chicana” rather than Latina. Why? Well, it unites both of my worlds, despite the fact that I don’t feel like I belong in either. Although I was born in the United States, my entire family hails from Mexico. To my family, I am more American, yet to everyone else, I am more Mexican. No soy ni de aqui, ni de alla.

I don’t fit into either identity. I’m stuck in the middle. But you were the only thing that was certain to me in moments I felt lost within myself.

You, Spanish, are the link between my two worlds. When I put on my headphones and hear Spanish music in my ears or when I speak Spanglish with my friends, I feel empowered. My heart fills with warmth, joy and what I struggled the most to find: belonging.

You’ve given me the opportunity to connect with so many people. Every day at school, I welcome the facilities workers in Spanish. With my Spanish-speaking friends, I effortlessly switch from English to Spanish without thinking about it. I can communicate with my family through you. You bring so much peace and always can connect people without judgement.

You make people feel like home.

Many of my family members attempted to assimilate or shield their children from what other people could think, by making many of my cousins lose you. I am sorry. I resent the fact that the country in which I was born forced so many people to forget about you. I resent the fact that many of my cousins see you as an impediment rather than a blessing. Spanish, I assure you you are in all of our hearts regardless.

Speaking you has helped me to connect with myself and my community on a level that is fundamental to who I am. I desired to fit in at my mostly white school, but speaking you in Hermanas Unidas, with Spanish teachers or among friends has made me realize you anchor me. In places where it’s so hard to find you, you always make your way back to me.

Language moves hearts, minds and souls. I grew up being my parents’ translator, whether by helping them fill out forms, talk to people at clinics — you name it. My heart beats with an immense sense of pride with every translation. I am proud to speak my family’s tongue, and I am now realizing how integral that experience has been.

You have an infinite world of stories ready to be told. Thank you for allowing me to help tell them.

Has sido mi ancla en momentos en los que sentí que no pertenecía. Llevas en ti tanto poder y amor.

Con todo mi amor, 

Lizette Gonzalez