Language Barriers

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Here’s a story. A bilingual baby goes to her first day of preschool. Her teacher can’t pronounce the Spanish name “Marisa,” the long stretched-out I or the rolling R. So she calls her “Marissa,” and the child learns to respond to this name that is not her own. The same day, that child with the wrong name asks an adult for agua. She’s thirsty, but no one understands her. No one knows what she’s asking for, so she doesn’t drink anything all day. Actually, this isn’t a story at all. These are just the facts. I’ll resist the urge to say that assimilation was an act of survival because nothing is that simple. The act of releasing whole chunks of your identity into the wind takes years, not a single day. It just happened — a Marisa became a Marissa, and a child forgot how to say her own name. . . . . . . #writersofinstagram #writing #latinx #mexicanheritage

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