Thursday, May 23, 2013

Living In Two Worlds, But With Just One Language : NPR

Living In Two Worlds, But With Just One Language : NPR: NPR continues its conversations about , where NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris asks people to send in six-word stories about race and culture. The submissions are personal, provocative and often quite candid.

When Elysha O'Brien, a college professor in Las Vegas, decided to submit six words about her cultural identity, she knew exactly what she wanted to say: "." Like many others who have written to The Race Card Project, she grew up in bilingual household but never learned the language of her elders.

O'Brien says she often feels like she has a foot in two worlds, but is never fully accepted in either. Whites often assume she is Greek or Mediterranean because her face is slightly angular and her skin fairly pale. But when she encounters others who share her Mexican heritage, they often don't pick up signals that suggest cultural camaraderie.

"When I go into a community of Hispanics, they just assume that I'm white," O'Brien says. "Once we start talking, sometimes they'll say, 'Well, why don't you speak Spanish?' And I say, 'Well, my parents didn't teach me.' "