[Wildcat Online: opinions] [ad info]





Editorial: Mock Spanish not racist, just natural

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
March 2, 2000
Talk about this story

Life is not lived in a vacuum. Neither is "la vida."

In a city like Tucson, immersed in border culture and politics, racial sensitivity and acceptance of foreign lifestyle is an issue commonly dealt with.

And while it is comforting that academic discussion on the topic continues, sometimes it just goes too far. A University of Arizona professor recently lectured on the use of "Mock Spanish" - Spanish words adapted into pop-culture expressions - as a form of racism, sparking a number of letters commenting on the idea.

While hate speech is undoubtedly unacceptable in an integrated society, the blending of culture is an inevitable and positive part of coexistence. In fact, a world where different races polarize and fail to adopt one another's cultures is far more harmful than any mock language.

Anthropology professor Jane Hill discussed varying levels of offensive speech, from racial slurs, down to "Hasta la vista, baby." While the former is obviously more hurtful than the latter, Hill argued that all levels of Mock Spanish are potentially offensive and vulgar.

It's true that with any mixture of races, misunderstanding of culture and ignorance of customs can hurt feelings. But in the real world, where a white teenager from a white town can come to school and live with someone directly from a reservation, for example, this is risk that must be taken. In the daily struggle to understand each other and unearth internal stereotypes, words are thrown around and customs are explored.

That would lead to a dull world. All whites would be white and live only like other whites.

But that's not the way it is, and it never should be. Border town residents often speak a Spanish-English hybrid, if only out of convenience for living among members of two cultures. Friends greet each other with, "Que pasa?" And Ricky Martin - like him or not - bridges musical genres with Spanglish lyrics and bilingual albums.

It's a good thing.

Cultural sterility is an ugly thing - much uglier than the Taco Bell Chihuahua. If a city like Tucson didn't hear Spanish in everyday conversation, it would be a little scary.

Every language of the world has adopted and mutated because of proximity of other languages. It's a natural part of human evolution, just as every human's blood contains elements of other "races."

When all lectures and studies are said and done, unless it's meant with disrespect, it really is no problemo.

[end content]
[ad info]