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Writing: ‘Your Language’ by Maria Jaramillo

This piece placed second for high school writing submissions in the Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition, which invited students to consider a change they’d like to see in their community or the world and to convince an audience, through any genre of writing or visual medium, of the importance of this change. The competition was an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing and art.

Your Language 

The sound of thick rolling Rs and heavy tongues surfed over the coveted wine racks. Rolling Rs crashed onto the shore of her consciousness. The long string of acerbic words grated her ears
with harsh dissonance. Her pallid looking skin turned florid and her eyes beamed towards the
lady speaking in her native language. “Go speak Spanish in your own country here we only
speak English.” The words sliced through the air like a turbine. My feet were cemented to the
floor incapable of movement. The thick black curls bounced off the lady’s shoulder as she
looked down in shame for speaking her language. Now in the middle of the wine isle was the
gaunt waves of English crashing against a little rock simply looking for a bottle of rose while speaking Spanish on the phone. A geyser of emotion arose through me and the hot water splattered through the isle. “Yes ma’am this is America, the melting pot of the world, filled with different languages including English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. And with a simple
history lesson you would discover you are standing on land that belonged to Native Americans
and to a country whose official language was Spanish. Also, when did the general public have
the right to understand private conversations?” The eyes filled with judgement from onlookers coerced the pearl clutching lady out the store and back onto the Mayflower. The Rs will
continue to roll and so will my tongue in any language I see fit.

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