With the recent discussion about names, this message popped up:
What are your thoughts about this? Does this seem right? Would this spark controversary? Take a minute to gather your thoughts before reading ahead….
If that situation seems inappropriate and makes you uncomfortable, then explain the difference between that situation and doing the same thing in a language class. We have many (white) teachers giving a list of “Spanish names” to a students to assume an identity of a latino without facing the discrimination that latinos face. Don’t think latinos face discrimination in this country just by their name? Ask José:
Don’t think that names like Walter, Steven, Alan are authentic “Spanish names”. Ask Kristy Placido who is writing about 3 real Guatemalans with those names.
A lot of comments on the last blog post said I was “too sensitive” and yes, I am sensitive to the issue of stereotyping, discrimination, and identity. I will not apologize for that. But I was also glad to see a lot of teachers REFLECTING on this practice. As I said, this has been a common practice and many teachers did it with good intentions without questioning it. But all I can ask you to do is to really reflect on if this is the best practice moving forward for you and your students.
For many years, blackface was a common practice. White people trying to portray a black person. Some people still even defend this practice and think it is not wrong. Are there any similarities between blackface and “Spanish names”?
I am glad that people are discussing it and I’ve seen many teachers reflect on social media as a result. Because it’s time that we finally address this elephant in the language classroom.
Thank you so much for this. We really need to reflect on this, we need to learn, to be more sensitive about these topics.
I worked at a school that everybody made fun of me bc I mispronounced a word, English is not my first language, or many ppl called me Shakira bc I Ian Latina.
I made me feel bad, and some ppl told me that I was being too sensitive about it.
Thank you for initiating this conversation. Names are an important part of culture and personal identity. Neither should be negated by changing a student´s name. That is not to say that we shouldn´t learn names that are characteristic of a certain culture, and even adopt them as part of a role play situation. In my opinion, however, a student´s personal identity should never be changed for regular classroom use because it is the preference of the teacher. Over the course of my academic career, my name was changed on a yearly basis. My name is Margaret and I have been called Marge, Maggie, Meg, Peggy, Marjorie, Margot – in spite of my preference to be called Margaret. It´s just disrespectful. Your parents give you your name NOT your teacher.
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