If You Speak Spanish… Why Are You White?

A teacher with goals of emphasizing foreign language

If You Speak Spanish... Why Are You White?

Skylar Cross, Staff Writer

Just as the famous line, “If you’re from Africa… Why are you white?” portrays from the 2004 Comedy Mean Girls, people are constantly falling victim to particular stereotypes. Mrs. Sclafani, a caucasian Spanish teacher at Santaluces, can relate to this phenomena.

Sclafani grew up in an urban area of New York, where she also attended high school.

“Living in New York, I was surrounded by, and exposed to, so many different cultures.”

The high school in which she attended was full of a broad range of cliques, however she did not feel the pressure of failing to be accepted. Her school was not very racially mixed.

“At my high school, people stayed with their people,” said Sclafani, “and people were not as intermixed as they are nowadays, especially as they are here [at Santaluces].”

Regardless of the typical stereotypes and social norms, Sclafani did not feel pressure when learning to speak Spanish.

“I started to learn Spanish in sixth grade,” said Sclafani. “While everyone was signing up for art or gym, instead I was like one of three people that chose Spanish.”

Most people don’t see the point in learning foreign languages or getting exposure to other cultures. Mrs. Sclafani is hoping to spread awareness of just how important it is, especially living in a country that is “a melting pot of cultures.”

“In other countries it’s essential to learn English,” said Sclafani. “So why shouldn’t we learn other languages?”

She is also aiming to get the word out of how necessary learning foreign language is to travel. Some Americans have this sort of mindset that if we are visiting another country the people there should bend around our needs.  So why is travel important, some might ask?

“You should travel,” said Sclafani. “Just to see, and experience cultures. It will help you appreciate our country.”

While it seems there’s no way to resolve this issue overnight, there’s some ways to change people’s view of foreign language and it’s level of importance.

“The main issue with learning foreign language is we do not emphasize it here,  according to Sclafani. “It should be made into a core class to focus on what other countries focus on. We’re going down on the ladder as far as intellect and knowledge of world culture.”

Most of the time, hesitation when learning another language is what causes so many to neglect the idea. However, Mrs. Sclafani is living proof that you should not let nerves keep you from broadening your horizons.

“Just don’t be nervous,” says Sclafani. “You didn’t learn English with rules and regulations, you made mistakes. And regardless, most countries are forgiving, and impressed that you’re learning their language.”