Los Angeles Times

I am raising my daughter to speak three languages. A stranger demanded I 'speak English' to her

I felt her staring at me on the playground as I called out to my daughter.

She must be someone's grandmother, I thought. She must be curious, as people often are.

Then she took one step toward me - pink fingernails, dark blond hair - and opened her mouth, e-nun-ci-a-ting each word.

"Speak English," she commanded. "You're confusing the poor girl."

My stomach dropped. I rose from the grass and braced myself to respond. And I did.

But not before an old, familiar feeling washed over me, a mix of fear and shame I used to carry like a knapsack in grade school. I was 7 years old, just two years older than my daughter is now.

You wetback. Dirty beaner. Go back to Tijuana. You sound like Ricky Ricardo.

So many days at Lake Marie Elementary School ended the same way for me: angry and broken, waiting by the rosebushes for my mom's beat-up blue

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times2 min readMusic
Save Your Tears For Another Day: Weeknd Announces Makeup Dates For Canceled LA Show
LOS ANGELES — Save your tears for another day: The Weeknd will return to Los Angeles on Thanksgiving weekend for a pair of performances to make up for his abruptly canceled Sept. 3 show. The "Save Your Tears" and "Blinding Lights" crooner will be bac
Los Angeles Times7 min read
UC Housing Crisis Forces Students Into Multiple Jobs To Pay Rent, Sleeping Bags And Stress
LOS ANGELES — Matthew Chin couldn't wait to dive into the life of a UC Santa Cruz college student after the loneliness of online learning. But instead, he is missing out on the camaraderie of roommates, dorm life and full slate of campus activities h
Los Angeles Times4 min readAmerican Government
Commentary: We’re Old, We’re Progressive And We Vote
The GOP has been flailing a little in recent weeks, as an election once expected to be a typical midterm blowout has tightened considerably. If the GOP expects that older voters will bail them out as in elections past, our advice is, think again. The