Los Angeles Times

I am raising my daughter to speak three languages. A stranger demanded I 'speak English' to her

I felt her staring at me on the playground as I called out to my daughter.

She must be someone's grandmother, I thought. She must be curious, as people often are.

Then she took one step toward me - pink fingernails, dark blond hair - and opened her mouth, e-nun-ci-a-ting each word.

"Speak English," she commanded. "You're confusing the poor girl."

My stomach dropped. I rose from the grass and braced myself to respond. And I did.

But not before an old, familiar feeling washed over me, a mix of fear and shame I used to carry like a knapsack in grade school. I was 7 years old, just two years older than my daughter is now.

You wetback. Dirty beaner. Go back to Tijuana. You sound like Ricky Ricardo.

So many days at Lake Marie Elementary School ended the same way for me: angry and broken, waiting by the rosebushes for my mom's beat-up blue

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