Getting Used to Miami’s Spanish Saturation
There was a time, not so very long ago, where hearing Spanish made my skin crawl. It was like nails on a chalkboard. And if someone deigned talk to me en Espanol, in return they got an earful in English.
“I don’t speak Spanish,” I’d sneer at them. “Learn English, then talk to me.” And with that I’d walk away.
I wouldn’t do business in a place where the help couldn’t understand me. And upon leaving, I’d rant to whoever I was with about what a jacked up city this was, and how much I hated Latin culture.
But lately I’ve come to realize: It just doesn’t bother me anymore. Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe I’ve just gotten beaten down by it. Or maybe I’m just tired of fighting. But that rage that burned every time I heard reggaeton five years ago is now barely a smoldering ember.
TWO YEARS LATER AND YOU EXPECT TO HEAR MANA AT PATTY O’BRIEN’S
A funny thing happens when an American transplant makes it past the two year mark in Miami. The mark that determines whether you’re going to be a long-term tourist or a legitimate resident. You start to take the Spanish as just another part of daily life. Yeah it may suck constantly being an outsider and rarely meeting anyone with your common background. But being the only white person in the room becomes the norm. Spanish music in an Irish Pub neither surprises nor phases you. You can’t pinpoint when exactly you stopped being frustrated and angry. But now the only time you realize exactly how much of a minority you are is when you get off a plane in another city, look around the airport, and go “Damn. There’s a lot of white people here.”
For me. it probably started the last time I left Miami, swearing – as I always did – that I just couldn’t handle this Spanish stuff anymore. But as I finished school and thought about where to live, I realized something:
Nowhere is perfect. And every city has its disadvantages. And all you can do is get used to the stuff you hate, and enjoy the things you love.
Like when you ask a Chicagoan how they deal with the winters, they say “Well, you get used to it.”
Or ask an Angelino how they deal with the hour-long commutes to work. “Well, you get used to it.”
The same goes for the saturation of Spanish and Latin culture in Miami. Like cold and traffic, I really dislike it. But when people ask me how I deal with the constant language and cultural barriers I find myself saying “Well, you get used to it.”
SEEING MYSELF IN THE NEW GENERATION OF AMERICAN TRANSPLANTS
Now I find myself going into Walgreens with a new Miamian and laughing at their infuriation.
“Why can’t this guy at the counter speak English?!” they demand to know. “How are they doing business here?! This IS still America, right?!”
And where five years ago this comment would have sparked an hour long discussion on why Miami was so messed up, now I just shrug.
“Yep,” I tell the new Miamian with about as much emotion as I use to describe the weather. “That’s Miami. Nobody speaks English.”
I don’t tell them to accept it. Because I still don’t think we should accept immigrants who won’t learn our language. And I don’t tell them to deal with it, because again, we should not be forced to deal with the shortcomings of newcomers. I just tell them to get used to it. Because if you wanna make it in Miami, that’s all you can do.
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"Getting Used to Miami’s Spanish Saturation"