Spanish has always been a problem in Aztlán.
Though am second guessing this problem is slowly turning a leaf in the collective concious in as much as Native Americans are more and more preferring to be addressed as that or have that as part of their lives.
Geeeeez, even my second generation mexican american cousins are teaching their children spanish.
Back in my days having someone hear you speak spanish was tantamount to labeling yourself a foreigner; one only scurried fast enough to blurb half chicano english phrases to assure the observer one was as American as burritos on a taco stand in LA. It was tough beating the “bad looks” that disfranchised one from one’s society. I still shiver in embarrassment at the thought of it.
I even remember not speaking spanish, my heady days as pocho as pocho can get.
Though it is no surprise that such societal effects have taken place in the history of the Southwest; we are one of many groups who has been questioned about our “english” purity by the white majority due to the color of our skin or our racial looks.
And little wonder is it then that second generation Xicanos/Chicanos (girls and boys) have such a schizophrenic attitude towards mexican spanish because mexicans are ill-spoken of all the time. In fact, am willing to bet a whole wad of pesos that the number one source of embarrasment for many second generation mexican americans is just that, that they are referred to as mexican, beaners, wetbacks, and all that.
This off course has a well intented purpose, one to debase the human being being labeled as that and the other to assert majority opresion and to let you know who the boss is.
So spanish betrays.
Curiosuly enough on both sides. The “english” purist camp arguing that this and that on assimilation and the spanish “purists” arguing that we don’t speak enough of a good spanish at all.
But let’s keep the spanish “purists” out because those mostly stem from one’s house criticism rather than the world out there, that is english America.
So if you are not well informed about your own self then and have half cooked notions about your surroundings, like the most of us do, then your self steem falters like a San Andrea’s fault on any day. You are vulnerable because the majority has dictated what an “American” is, no matter the past, history or your background, if you fail to pass the “American” test, that is, speak fault free General American english, your out like a bat. That is why we Xicanos speak english/spanglish one way with our close ones and another more common, out there, english which makes us sound like gringos. But mostly when we are caught speaking Chciano english we become unwanted, that is American society for you. Because we are not interested in ideals that the government sells: we are all equal under the law blah, blah, we do not take that up. Here we are just concerned about what the average Xicano experiences when he or she confronts the rest of America and what the rest of America has said about him or her and his or her background beforehand. A pre-established frame society carries around to see the rest of society with.
So spanish is seen as a foreign language, it doesn’t belong in California, never mind that half of its history is written in just spanish. Society renounces this altogether and chastises the vowels whenever it hears them out. I am sure I don’t need to remind no one about the hundreds of cases pending in courts about discrimination for speaking spanish in the job.
So, for the most part, knowing spanish in Aztlán is a detriment rather than a plus.
So yeah, that, today.