This Poet Went In On All Of Those White Girls In Spanish Class Who See Our Language As A Joke And Easy Grade

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We don’t forget the white girls (and boys) who used to love playing around in our Spanish class – the ones that sat in the back and giggled when a word sounded “funny” or didn’t care to learn proper pronunciation, making offensive jokes instead. Maybe you felt embarrassed or mad, but didn’t say anything. Poet Ariana Brown has the words that you have been searching for to shut them down and call out their ignorance using wit, history and power.

Brown starts her poem about the kids who goofed off in Spanish class with a subtle recognition of their existence and their indifference.

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“Stumbling so hard, you laugh through entire sentences because my ancestors are a punchline and everything that comes out of your mouth is funny,” Brown recites. “Funny. I guess I’m just used to being a joke, a brown body splayed and smoldering at the corner of your lip.”

And so, she asks them the question.

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“I bet you thought that this class would be easy since Spanish is what poor brown people speak, right,” Brown says. “Not something that you actually have to try to understand, not fancy or sophisticated. Not like French, the language you love over-pronouncing as if compensating for your basic, American whiteness.”

Brown then gently puts them in their place to let them know that they are no different than anyone else in that class.

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“You are the reason my grandmother feared that her children would speak with accents,” Brown explains. “So afraid that she buried her first language in a space between blood and bone because your grandparents wouldn’t let her make a home outside her body.”

The poet offers up a brief history lesson on how Spanish came to be the language spoken in Latin America.

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“Spanish was given to my people at the end of a sword forced in our throats. Gory,” she articulates. “Sharpened under the colonizers’ constant eye. Each rolled R is a red, wet fingerprint leading my back to this.”

And she wants to make one thing clear: we don’t have our native tongue.

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“English is not my native tongue,” Brown reminds us. “The languages I speak are bursting with blood but they are all I have.”

So, she asks again…

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“Do you think my grandmother’s accent a sickness,” Brown asks. “One so volatile you call yourself ‘gringa’ at every chance so I won’t make fun of you?”

And she informs those white girls in her Spanish class that the search for her identity is not simple.

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“For each scrap of culture I could get my hands on, even if its lineage is as European as yours,” Brown explains. “My father, a black American man, is descended from slaves. I’m not sure if you understand what that means. I am descended from slaves. I want to know where I come from but I can only trace my history in one direction.”

Check out Brown’s full poem below.

It is so damn powerful. ?? ✊? ??


READ: Poetry’s Been Called An Outdated Pastime, But These Latinas Are Breathing New Life Into The Art

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