A “new” civil rights movement on the rise?

I’m writing this with a heavy heart, but with a mighty soul. I want to start off with focusing on the title of this post. I said “new” because I think the spirit of the civil rights movement our brothers and sisters participated in is and has been a part of our lives, spirit, and determination as we made our journey as people of color (POC) and as a society who has fought for social change in the USA.

We are faced with a new challenge today. We are faced with some of our civil rights being contested. Most importantly, we are faced with our human rights being challenged. My fight in this “new” civil rights movement is for those who have worked so hard to get us to where we are today and for the future of my beautiful and Latinx daughters.

It is time to organize. It is time to use and implement the strategies our ancestors gave us to fight against white supremacy. At this very moment I have disengaged from social media in many ways because I am tired. I am sad. I am insulted. I am scared. I am at a loss for words.

I believe there is a new civil rights movement on the rise. It is not a time to stay silent. It is not a time to be an observer. It is not a time to hope and pray things are resolved. It is a time to hope, pray, STAND UP, and SPEAK LOUDLY!

We are on the brink of change in OUR nation and it is time to UNITE, ACT (not react), and RESIST.

Sometimes Spanish does not come first!

Even before I had Sabrina I was scoping out our foreign language schools options. I got on several waiting lists and eventually got into all of them! In fact, I keep my nena on a rolling waiting list because you never know. I was so set on foreign language exposure that I did not even bother looking into English child development (aka day care options or mothers-day-out programs). I had my heart and eyes focused on the foreign language component that it, unfortunately, blurred my sense of vision. I lost sight of what was really important — my daughter’s well being, her happiness, and what she needed in school.

As I scoped out language schools I started to notice a trend. Most of them seem to have a stricter and more regimented program for teaching and taking care of children. I started to wonder if this had something to do with the ways children are taught and cared for in Latin American countries. I know that western/North American child rearing practices can be very different than other parts of the world, so surely this, too, affects the way children are regarding in Latin American day care centers and schools.

As I have mentioned in other posts, we love the little school Sabrina is enrolled in now. They value linguistic diversity and that, to me, is priceless. We have had to consider other options because it was now too far from our home, but to be honest, I was not entirely happy with the stricter and more regimented schedule they have in place. I won’t get into details, but I will say that I recently checked out an English school in town and walked into a whole new world.

The child was at the center of their “play-curriculum.” If my baby girl wants to paint, she can; if she wants to play with shaving cream in a water table, she can. The place seemed happy, the kids were happy, and most importantly, they were doing things that 2 and a half year olds should be doing—socializing and playing. In other words, they don’t have to wait for art time to happen in an organized, sitting in their chair, and waiting their turn fashion.

Read: Is Bilingual Education Right for Us?

Taking the initiative to look at English schools may have happened out of necessity, but deciding that sometimes Spanish does not come first was a process. We have been speaking in Spanish to Sabrina since the day she was born and have been really consistent about it. She probably knows about 90% Spanish and 10% English.

My heart was aching and tears were swelling up in my eyes when I was forced to take a closer look at the decisions we were making about exposing my daughter to Spanish almost 100% of the day. I realized that the decisions we had made were possibly costing her opportunities to just be a kid. All she wants to do is play, socialize with other kids, and do creative things. Sure she would stay in her seat, listen to the teacher, walk in a line with her hands behind her back, but she is too young to voice her opinion or even know that there are other schools available where being a 2 ½ year old comes first, then learning Spanish.

I’m curious, what are foreign language schools/day care centers like in your city? Have you compared English versus Spanish schools? If so, did you notice a difference like I did? How are you weighing your options?

*Originally published on the Spanglish Baby website on December 26, 2012

#race #whiteprivilege #blacklivesmatter #whitefragility #socialjustice #workingtogether

An [informal] open letter to those offended by hashtags related to #race,

It has been brought to my attention that my posts, comments, and ideas about #race offend people. Let me be clear about something. These posts and comments are not about you personally. If you think they are, then you should ask yourself why you feel this way and redirect your anger, uncomfortableness, and difference of opinion to a larger issue—like actively working to change things in society and not me, per se. I am not your problem—the way society has shaped you is the problem. Again, I am not referring to anyone personally because I am not sure who those “people” are exactly. I have never had a face-to-face interaction with anyone who has blatantly said, “What you said about #race #whiteprivilge #whitefragility offends me. Can we talk about it?”

I was going to write a post that would describe and break down what the hashtags above mean, but I never intended this blog to do that. This blog was meant to provide an “interpretation of MY bilingual life,” how I have navigated life as a #bilingual person of color. If MY experiences offend you, my very REAL experiences, things people (usually White) happened to say to ME offend you, then the problem lies within you.

I find it particularly interesting that most White people have not had to talk about their White skin and when we, #POC, bring up #race (even comically) it becomes a “Why are you so angry at us?” or “Isn’t that racist [of you]?” dialogue. I don’t remember a time I haven’t talked about my brown skin and #bilingualism.

For the record, I’m not an “angry Latina with an attitude.” I am simply open to discussing with others issues that are related to language, class, and race in order to gain a better understanding about each other. In fact, I am so interested that I wrote a 300+ page dissertation focused on those issues—so see, my posts about #race are not about YOU—they’re about making this world a better place for Latinx children who come from marginalized communities. I wouldn’t waste my time and energy writing about #whitepeople—history has already done that for us.

Sinceramente,
#letstalk #latinaPhD #racematters #worktogether

In search of the ideal foreign language program for your child? (a post in progress)

Where do you start? Which language do you choose? How do you know which school is the best for your child? How much should it cost? Do all the parents at that school have the same goals? Does it matter? Should there be economic and ethnic diversity? If these are questions that matter to you when choosing a language immersion program then continue reading below.

When I started investigating,  8 years ago,  which language program would be a great fit for my daughter I simply looked at programs that offered Spanish. I failed in considering whether the foreign language programs were a good fit for her emotional and social well-being. One of the goals in writing this post is to offer parents an informed perspective, as a parent and academic, in helping you choose the “right” school for your child.

Please leave any other questions or concerns about choosing the ideal foreign language school for your child in the comments section below.

**this is a rough-draft of an upcoming post

 

 

 

 

Our Interview with Telemundo-Austin about Being Bilingual

When I got the e-mail from the Telemundo reporter, Camila Bernal, I was ecstatic. She said she found an old blog post of mine on NBC Latino about maintaining Spanish at home when my daughter was attending (for the first time!) an “English-speaking” school. I was happy at the chance to answer any of her questions about raising bilingual children in Austin.

I decided to have the interview at the Spanish immersion school, Academia Pre-escolar, my daughter was attending for various reasons. Not only does the school have an amazing backyard, but the owner, Pamela De Los Santos , has created such a warm and loving space where children can grow to become bilingual.

When Camila arrived my older daughter asked me if she could be interviewed too. I said, “Claro que si, pero tienes que hablar en espanol.” She agreed without a blink. After watching the recording when it aired a few days later and seeing Sabrina shine bright as a (bilingual) Spanish  speaker the entire SIX YEARS my husband and I have spent enforcing (in positive ways) the use of Spanish seemed to have paid off.  I couldn’t have been prouder of my nena despite the fact that she stole the show! LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. In the interview she mentioned that she loves speaking Spanish because her Abuelita speaks it and that she loves to sing songs in Spanish. My heart melted. This moment will definitely go down as one of the proudest “bilingual moments” we have had with Sabri.

I have to admit when my oldest daughter was born the support to raise bilingual children in Austin was on the rise. The year she was born coincided with the local school district implementing dual language education, which was also the year I started collecting data for my dissertation. This bilingual journey of ours has taken many turns from moving to Ecuador to collecting data in a dual language school. All in all, it has been an amazing adventure!

Below is the link to the interview. Enjoy!
http://telemundoaustin.com/news/local/formando-hogares-y-nios-bilinges-en-austin

Saludos desde Austin, Tejas where we proudly raise bilingual kids!

 

 

Co-authored a Huffington Post Article about CA’s Proposition 58- LEARN

Please help me in spreading the news about California’s Proposition 58 – (Language Education, Acquisition and Readiness). It will be on the November ballot and we must get California residents to vote YES. Voting YES means ALL students in the state of CA will have the opportunity to receive a multilingual education. This isn’t the first time I have urged the public to become advocates for bilingual education, so please take a moment to read about the proposition and share it with friends, family, and colleagues that can vote in the state of California.

Some may ask why I have an invested interest in seeing this proposition pass. I grew up in Southern California and in a bilingual community up until 8th grade. I personally did not benefit from bilingual education, but would love to see it an option for all students, but, especially students who come from bilingual homes.

Please click on the link below to read the Huffington Post promoting CA Proposition 58.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/american-anthropological-association/save-ca-residents-from-a_b_11387726.html

2015 in review! Looking foward to writing more about bilingualism this year! Stay tuned….

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Navigating Academia as a [Latina/Chicana/Minority]!!

2015

I wrote this post 4 years ago and never shared it. I am sharing it today because I have come a long way since then. I am now a doctoral candidate, and have several publications. I have applied to tenure-track jobs and have even been invited to go to an on campus interview. I decided to share it so that others that come across my blog see that it is possible to move past those lonely points in graduate school. This is my last year in the doctoral program. I am ABD and plan on walking next May! Si se puede!!!

2011

I was sitting in class (nervous about participating) and what happens every year in at least one of my graduate courses happened today! I said something, or at least felt like I said something stupid. Then it automatically feels like the whole room is spinning around me and the person speaking in response to my comment is moving in slow motion with a huge sticky note on her forehead that reads, “I am smarter than you will ever be and have ever been!” Of course this person is always Anglo and seems to be from a different upbringing. Yes, I am exaggerating!! The truth is that this was actually a reality when I was in high school and even as an undergrad at the same institution I am now.

There’s a part of me that will always be the attention-seeking, yet shy, Chicana from the barrio of Santa Ana, CA, kind of like Ugly Betty from Queens. I watched the show from the day it started and am currently rewatching the sitcom. It completely resonated with me because it reminded me of the experience I had as an undergrad in higher education. I started community college with such high hopes. I arrived almost two hours early on my first day because I really wanted to do well in the remedial math, reading, and writing courses I was placed in. Almost 20 years later I still feel like I don’t know as much as some of my doctoral peers. I hear their interpretations and think to myself, “Why can’t I interpret the reading as eloquently as they did?” or I compare my life story to theirs after hearing about how one of my classmates grandfather got his PhD from a Parisian university. I am pretty sure that about that same time my grandfather was immigrating to the U.S. as a bracero worker.

I’ll stop here with my self-reflection…..As I have mentioned before, this site is meant to help me understand various aspects of what it means to know more than one language, and that includes my personal story. In addition, writing can be very cathartic and after today’s episode, in class and on Ugly Betty, I felt the need to rant a bit….to better understand why, at times, I feel so alone in my doctoral program and why, at times, it feels like maybe I don’t belong.

**Don’t leave me, “Si se puede” comments, please. I was just ranting for therapy…for me.

My Disclaimer

Though my explorations of bicultural/bilingual experiences may allude to, or state quite blatantly, general perceptions about “Latinos” I by no means intend to offend anyone reading my blog. In addition, I consider my comments mere attempts to better understand why we communicate or hold certain ideals about one another. My main objective is to gain a better understanding, both personally and professionally, about my bilingual and bicultural experiences as I mentioned in the category titled, “About my blog”

This disclaimer was originally published in 2007.

*This applies to any other social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) venue I use to express my experiences, perspectives, & observations.