Communication Studies at Edmonds Community College
Guadalupe was having a rough day. She had just been fired from her job helping a woman clean her house. The job had been demeaning for her to begin with. She would never have done a job like that if she were living in her own country. Her family had maids to do the work she was doing. She did not dare tell her family about this work. Her father would be furious to find out that she was a maid in the United States.
The woman who had hired her said she was being fired because she was "too Latin". Guadalupe was proud of her Latin profile and her Latin background. Her family's business was large and very prosperous. Her father owned an oil company that was divided into three divisions: one part just for oil exploration; another for refining the oil; and, the third and largest, was a series of petrol sales offices throughout Mexico. Her family had offices in all the major cities in her country. Guadalupe couldn't change her accent or where she was from. And she wouldn't have changed them just to please this lady who didn't respect her. If only the lady knew who Guadalupe really was - the President of her country had once visited with her father and had eaten lunch in her house. But all the lady saw was that Guadalupe was "Latin." What did this mean - to be too Latin? Guadalupe thought it should be a source of pride and NOT a problem.
Her boyfriend Ben said: "Doesn't your boss know that you are a teacher at home?"
Guadalupe replied, " She doesn't even know which Latin American country I'm from. She asked several times, but she forgets, even though I remind her."
"There's a lot of ignorance here," Ben said as they finished their coffee. Luisa looked at Ben fondly. Her father sent her brother, Vicente, money for them to live. But there were always little expenses. She liked having her own money. Besides she and Ben were saving for their future together. Her brother Vicente didn't know everything - "Mi Mexico lindo y querida" he would tell her. This was always quickly followed by the warning that Ben was a gringo and "No te conviene, Guadalupe."
Guadalupe packed up her backpack and went over to the library information desk - her on-campus job. She loved the job. Her co-workers appreciated her quick wit and she was proud of her ability to listen to and to help people. Occasionally people would ask her to repeat what she had just said, but her English was good and she enjoyed working with the public. In fact, some of her coworkers had more trouble with English than she did - and they were American!
She had just finished helping a new student get through the maze of his first venture into the library when a middle-aged woman approached her. The woman seemed confused by the current library catalog being on the computer. She hesitantly asked for help. Guadalupe asked her if she was looking for a book or a periodical, or if she knew the author's name or the title. But as soon as Guadalupe started asking her questions, the lady's face became very red and she started shouting "Can someone else help me? I can't understand what she is saying. I need some real help."
Guadalupe was stunned. She had never been spoken to so rudely. The woman continued to call for help. Guadalupe just stood there silently - humiliated.. The woman had acted as if she were speaking a foreign language. But Guadalupe was speaking English, and very good English at that.
One of Guadalupe's coworkers rushed over to see what was going on. She told the woman the same information that Guadalupe had been trying to give her. This time the woman understood.
Later that afternoon, as she was leaving work, Guadalupe's supervisor called her in and asked her what had happened. Guadalupe told her the woman had made her feel demeaned: "She put me on a lower level." Her supervisor told her not to worry about the woman's reaction. She had come to the supervisor and apologized for her behavior. Guadalupe said that didn't help - she should have apologized directly to her.
Guadalupe was still upset that she did not tell the women directly how she felt. That would have been the honorable thing to do.
"Mi Mexico lindo y querida" - "My beloved and beautiful Mexico"
"Gringo" -This is a term used by Latin Americans in reference to Anglo Americans. It is mostly used in countries where there was or is a heavy Anglo American military presence such as in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, and Mexico.
"No te conviene" - "He is not the one for you."