Author urges immigrants to embrace their roots

By Brenda De La Cruz

Julissa Arce’s “You Sound Like a White Girl” dives into the author’s own experience, and that of others she knows who migrated to the U.S. and were met with many barriers. 

Latinos and other brown immigrants continue to struggle in their quest to fit in as Americans.  

Arce’s book is packed with tons of history that most high schools and first-year college courses teach. 

The author dives into immigrants attempting to assimilate in a country that often mocks them for their use of Spanish or languages other than English. 

 Arce explains her plight in this country, and how despite her success as an immigrant, she is often reminded that she “speaks so well for a brown girl.”

The book comes off a bit like a typical history school textbook at times, but what helps it tug at readers’ heart strings is the human and personal touch it gives with each historical piece it describes. 

Some history touched on  the segregation of Latino students from their white counterparts, solely based on their skin color, and the fact that they speak Spanish. 

Many kids were placed in special education courses because educators assumed they weren’t as bright as the white students, simply because they may not have known how to speak English. 

Great examples are used throughout the book describing the two-sided discrimination against Latinos from being considered “cultured” if a white person learns Spanish, but ridiculing a Latino for speaking both English and Spanish. 

Knowing two or more languages should be considered valuable and intelligent. Instead it’s used against one if they’re of dark skinned complexion. 

Due to the mistreatment of Latinos for speaking Spanish, Arce goes on to remind her readers this very reason is why so many Latino parents refused to teach their children their native tongue. 

They did not want their children going through what they went through for simply communicating with one another in their first language. 

Arce also explores how many Latinos also perpetuate white supremacy on one another. 

Whether it be the mocking of someone who has an accent, or even making mean comments on their skin color being dark.

Overall, Arce’s book explains the many demands the U.S., and even immigrants themselves, place on those trying to strive for a better life with the “American dream.” 

Sounding like a white girl was taken as a compliment by the author, until she realized there was more to it. 

“You Sound Like a White Girl” is a love letter to all immigrants, mostly aimed at brown and black immigrants, who have to work twice as hard to prove they are worthy of being in this country. 

The book is well written and full of triggers for many who have either experienced this first-hand or know a loved one who has.

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