I thought I wasn’t ‘Hispanic enough’ because I don’t speak Spanish. I was wrong.
One TODAY staffer reflects on her journey to connect with her heritage and learn the language her mother and grandparents speak.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, TODAY is sharing the community’s history, pain, joy, and pride. We are highlighting Hispanic trailblazers and rising voices. TODAY will be publishing personal essays, stories, videos, and specials throughout the month of September and October. For more, head here.
When I tell people I’m Hispanic, they usually respond: “Really? Do you even speak Spanish?” With just a few words based on an immediate reaction, my sense of identity takes a major blow.
I typically take a deep breath and explain that I’m half Cuban, one-quarter Italian, and one-quarter Irish. I explain that although my mom speaks both Spanish and English, Spanish simply wasn’t spoken in my home or in the overwhelmingly white town where I grew up. If you’re lucky, I might even reveal how I feel deeply connected to the Cuban side of my family because my grandparents immigrated to New York City from Cuba. This is quite a mouthful, and usually way too much information for someone I may have just met, so I usually stick with the short version of my response: “I’m working on it.”