by Iemi Hernandez-Kim
I was walking in the park when an Asian woman was walking towards me on her cell phone. She passed me, laughed loudly, and in perfect Spanish said, “¡Ay, guey estas bien loco!” I had to stop walking to look at her.
As my head turned to study this spectacle, I thought, “she’s Asian. How can she speak Spanish that well?” And this is when I had my great epiphany—is that what people think when they see my mom and I speak Spanish?
My mom is a born and bred Korean woman who speaks perfect Spanish. While there have been vast discussions on Spanglish and unity with Spanish , I’m still trying to see where my story fits in. My Spanish was taught to me by my Korean mother who has no connection to Mexican culture.
“No estoy orgullosa de mi Español.” (I’m not proud that I can speak Spanish) she says.
“¿Nada?” I always thought she felt something.
“Nada.” Nope. She tells me that this is something that allows her to speak to her children but at the same time she can’t fully communicate what she wants to say.
The multi-ethnic community is a quiet one (if you find one at all), which can be detrimental to those still living with the self-hatred and confusion that comes with being mixed. However, once that negativity subsides, a great privilege emerges. We can take the cultures that have been given to us and morph them into our own culture.
I want to learn Korean because I identify myself equally as both. I have friends who vary in how they identify themselves based on how they grew up and their parents. My own brother identifies more with his Mexican side. Even though my brother and I think differently of our cultures, he is still the only person in my life that knows what it feels like to grow up in a house where three languages are constantly heard.
My Spanish and guilt about not knowing Korean is a great reflection of how a mixed person thinks. We constantly compare one set of customs to the other in an attempt to properly balance it all. For us, the experience of being a part of different cultures is much more poignant than the cultures themselves.
To learn more about Iemi, visit her vimeo page.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.