For Years I Refused To Speak Spanish Because Of How It Patronized My Disability

Like many first-generation Latinx kids in the United States, I grew up in a bilingual home. My mother and father spoke primarily English to my sisters and me while speaking Spanish whenever we were in New York visiting our Abuelos. Wela (my mother’s mom) also lived with us and she only spoke Spanish. My sisters had always been better at expressing themselves in Spanish than me, mainly because I had to focus on making sure my English was perfect. Having been born with Spina Bifida, I learned at a young age how to be the go-between for my doctors at the hospital who didn’t speak my family’s native tongue. It was imperative that I be able to communicate with my doctors well enough to make sure my parents also understood them in case something became lost in translation.

Growing up in a very English speaking environment meant that while my English was getting stronger, my Spanish suffered a bit and I began to have negative feelings about it.

Photo: Andrea Lausell

I felt ashamed my Spanish was beginning to be difficult for me to use even though I understood it just fine. As I grew up and explored my Disabled identity in English when I needed to explain who I was to my family, peers, and strangers, I realized I couldn’t explain who I was in Spanish. Eventually, I began to feel as if the Spanish language didn’t actually want people to know who I was as a Disabled Latina.

For the English speaking Disabled community, we’ve managed to take back the word“disabled” and to embrace it.

We welcome it as an identity and as a way to explain that we have a disability that requires accessibility. The word “disabled” isn’t a bad word for us, it’s a word filled with a rich history and supportive community. And in the community, we’ve developed different ways to identify ourselves either as a “disabled person” or a “person with a disability”. For myself personally, I don’t like using I’m a “person with a disability”, I prefer identity first language. But regardless of how a disabled person wants to identify, the bottom line is that our disability or disabilities end up being a big part of who we are. It’s a big part of who I am, no matter what I do in life and how I succeed.

In English it’s always been easy to explain who I am, but Spanish is another story. When I was a child, I noticed that whenever my parents and I talked about my disability we only did it in English. When English was used to talk about my Spina Bifida, it was always very medical but also caring. There was a softness and reassurance in my parents’ voices as they helped guide me in understanding and accepting who I was as a disabled person. In Spanis,h though my disability was rarely brought up and if we needed to explain something to family members who only spoke Spanish, it was explained as simply “bad back problems”. But there never was anything positive in the tone when it was “explained”. It always came with some pity followed by my family saying “ay bendito” to me.

I always knew there had to be words in Spanish that could explain my disability.

Photo: Andrea Lausell

Of course, you have the words for disabled like “discapacitado”, “incapacitado”, and “discapaz”. But I noticed a huge difference when using those words in Spanish verses saying “Disabled” in English. The difference was the connotation of “discapacitado” having the meaning of “malo” which is the direct opposite of the reclaimed word “disabled” in English. I think the reasoning as to why I don’t know much about disability related language in Spanish and probably why my family avoided saying it had to do with my parents not knowing the right word to say that reflected how they felt when they spoke to me in English. Therefore they had no way to teach me how to talk about myself fully in Spanish. That’s not their fault though, I was the first disabled person (that we know of) to be born in our family. They never needed to use disability language before me. When you also look at our Latinx culture and the history of how disability is viewed, it’s important to note that it’s engraved in our culture to look at disability as something to be pitied. The disabled become “el pobre” or “pobrecitas.” This belief is supported by the Latinx communities deeply rooted Catholic philosophies and influences, from the classic ableist stories of the Deaf and blind being “healed”. We’ve convinced ourselves as a community to see disabled people as those who are living sad lives because they’re disabled while also using them as a sort of inspiration porn: a reminder to “live your life to the fullest because after all, it could be worse, you could be disabled”. The reality, however, is that when disabled people do actually experience these “miserable lives” it’s because abled people have a created a world that is inaccessible to us.

For a good amount of my adolescent years, I began to reject Spanish because of how it subconsciously began to groom me into feeling as if my disability was something to feel ashamed about.

Ultimately, after a while, I refused to speak it unless I was talking to my Abuelos. Speaking the language ultimately began to make me feel unhappy because it felt like a language that could only be used as long as I didn’t talk about one of the biggest parts of me. As time has gone on, and I’ve become content in my identity as a Disabled Latina, I don’t entirely have negative feelings about speaking about my disability in Spanish. I’ve realized it’s not impossible to explain my Disabled identity especially as the Disabled Latin community slowly but surely manages to change the narrative of how the Latinx community views us by altering the meaning of very ableist words in Spanish. As long as I keep speaking Spanish to those around me, I feel confident I can help to make this change. Now, when I’m met with “ay benditos” as a response to someone finding out that I’m disabled, I’ll show them with my words that being “discapaz” is amazing and one of the best things about me.

Read: The Fashion Community Is Mourning The Death Of Dominican Style Maven Kyrzayda Rodriguez

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

No Pos Wow

The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

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Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

There are three ways that abuse can be identified. By the way your partner treats you physically, by the way they treat you emotionally, and by how you feel about the relationship. This checklist of twenty signs of abuse is one tool that you can use to see if you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse. And remember, more resources for dealing with abuse can be found by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233.

1. They have grabbed you and refused to let go.

gabkaphoto / Instagram

This falls into the category of physical abuse. No-one should grab you to make you feel threatened and unsafe. No-one.

2. They have pulled your hair.

Instagram: @theerinblythedavis

This is another form of physical abuse. Sure, a bit of hair pulling in the act of passion is fine. But when it happens as part of an argument, or when your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel threatened, that is abuse.

3. They have thrown things at you and/or destroyed your belongings.

Instagram: @beatfreak1996

One way your significant other may try to control you is through your belongings. Throwing things at you and destroying your belongings is designed to hurt you physically and emotionally. Threatening to do so also falls under this category of behavior, too.

4. They have left you with bruises, black eyes, bleeding, and/or broken bones.

Instagram: @veeegooose

While abuse doesn’t necessarily have to leave marks on your body, a sure sign of physical abuse in your relationship is when your partner does leave marks. Research shows that once it happens the first time, a “threshold” of sorts has been crossed, and an abuser is more likely to hurt their partner again.

5. They have threatened to hurt or kill you.

Instagram: @raquelitt

It may not seem like abuse, since there are no physical marks left from a threat to hurt or kill you. However, these threats are still part of the arsenal of tools that abusers use. How? Because these threats are designed to control your behavior, and make you feel powerless. Abuse in a relationship is about the abuser gaining and maintaining power, and death threats are a way of emotionally controlling you.

6. They have threatened to take your children away or harm them.

Instagram: @stephaniemaurasanchez

Even if you have children together, children shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Even more importantly, your children’s safety is non-negotiable: no partner of yours should threaten it. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to children. Pets can also be used to manipulate and control you in a relationship.

7. They have forced you to have sex.

Instagram: @jennylikesjewellery

Sex is not a “duty” to be fulfilled in a loving, equal relationship. Nor should your partner guilt trip or manipulate you into participating in sex acts after you have refused sex. Consent needs to be freely given! It doesn’t matter how long the two of you have been together. Otherwise, it’s classed as sexual assault.

8. They try to control you and treat you like a child.

Instagram: @silvia_almanza

Abusive relationships are about control and power. Part of treating you like a child is making you feel like you don’t have any control in the relationship, or even your life, so that you continue to stay and endure the abuse.

9. They make you feel like you need permission to make decisions or go somewhere.

Instagram: @kreeturefeature

This applies when you feel like you have to text at every moment to update your partner about where you are. And when you can’t spend time with friends or family without getting permission from your partner. This is because abusers commonly try to isolate their partner from other, platonic relationships with other people.

10. They try to take complete control of the finances and how you spend money.

Instagram: @loudmouthbruja

Controlling how money is earned and spent is known as financial abuse. People suffering from this type of abuse are commonly denied access to money by partners for doing simple tasks like grocery shopping. Or, sometimes the abuser decides whether and when their partner is allowed to work.

11. They cannot admit to being wrong.

Instagram: @abs_ter

Part of being in a respectful and loving relationship is being able to say sorry and to admit fault. An abusive partner refuses to apologise, because doing so would threaten their position of power in their relationship.

12. They accuse you of things that you know are not true.

Instagram: @estephaniaabarca

This is about control, and manipulating you. After all, if you’re spending your time trying to prove your innocence, then you’re not going to spend your time planning to leave the relationship, are you?

13. They do not take responsibility for their behavior.

Instagram: @lu.pazmi

The reality is, it’s not too much to ask someone to take responsibility for their behavior – even more so when it’s someone you’re in a relationship with. However, your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their behavior because doing so would threaten their position of power in the relationship.

14. They use “The Silent Treatment” to get their way.

Instagram: @yappaririri

Chances are you may have experienced “The Silent Treatment” before, in elementary school. And that’s where that behavior should stay. An equal, loving relationship is not built on one person using silence to manipulate the other person into conceding a point.

15. They make subtle threats or negative remarks about you.

Instagram: @noshophotography

Of course, there’s always room for some friendly sledging in a loving, respectful relationship. But, it turns into abuse when your partner does this on a regular basis to frighten, or control you. It’s possible they may even pass it off as a “joke”, or say that you’re “overreacting”. But again, if you’re in a loving relationship, then your partner should respect the fact that you’re hurt by a “joke”. They should not continue to make these types of comments.

16. You feel scared about how your significant other will act.

Instagram: @erikakardol

Repeat after us: you should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship. You should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship.

17. You feel that you can help your partner to change their behavior.

Instagram: @amnesia.r

But, only if you have changed something about yourself first.

18. You watch your behavior carefully so that you do not start a conflict in your relationship.

Instagram: @cmirandads

An abuser does not abuse all of the time. They maintain a cycle of abuse in the relationship. Things go from being tense, where you feel like you have to watch your own actions, to an incident which involves verbal, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Then, your partner attempts reconciliation or denies the abuse occurred, and the relationship goes into a calm stage. However, tensions will begin to build before long, starting the cycle once again.

19. You stay with your partner because you are afraid of what they would do if you broke up.

Instagram: @msstefniv

In other words, you feel trapped in your relationship because of your partner’s current, or potential, behavior. This can range from hurting you, your kids, your pets, your friends, and your family. Or, destroying your belongings, compromising access to your finances, or hurting themselves.

20. They don’t pass “The No Test”

Instagram: @kaitlyn_laurido

“The No Test” is pretty simple. Observe what happens the next time you tell your partner “no”. This could be in response to being asked out on a date, or maybe doing them a simple favor. Disappointment is a normal response to being told “no.”  However, pure outrage, violence, and/or emotional manipulation is not a reasonable response, and may indicate an abusive relationship.

If you feel that you are experiencing an abusive relationship, please seek help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233 for assistance. Please take care if you feel that your internet or mobile phone device use is being monitored.

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