Poet Sums Up The Struggle That Follows Latinos Who Don’t Speak Spanish

According to statistics, the number of Latinos who speak Spanish at home has been on a steady decline for over a decade. Yet, the pressure for U.S.-born Latinos to fortify a link to their native homes through language remains intact.

As a Latino who doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, poet Noel Quiñones understands what it’s like to have his identity up for trial.

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“There’s always a countdown when you realize I am not fluent in Spanish,” he asserts in “8 Confessions of My Tongue” at Write About Now Poetry. “You expected the waterfall. The spit that crossed the ocean. The syllable-suffocating dance—and it is a dance. This moving, weaving, searching, turning your back on what you can never keep up with. I contain so much sad brown mouth that I can’t even pronounce ‘Quiñones’ without a stranger examining the air it took to learn it.”

He goes on to discuss that his affinity for salsa and reggaeton isn’t enough to mask his inability to unpack the meaning in songs he loves. “I yell Marc Anthony lyrics and think volume equates to knowledge,” he admits. “I tell myself it’s not lying if I feel something, but I’m always the last one to yell ‘wepa,’ forever late to my own identity.”

Watch Quiñones slice through “fraud” accusations here:

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