Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Señor Chang: El Tigre Chino
Funny aside, Señor Chang's enraged introduction to himself brings up a very good point. Why would it strike American students as strange to have a Chinese Spanish teacher?
When I taught high school Spanish, I had a student tell me that people from the Dominican Republic can't really be Black because they speak Spanish. (?!?)
Americans have very boxed-in notions of race, ethnicity and nationality. We tend to imagine that all Latinos look like Salma Hayek (even though Salma Hayek is half-Lebanese). Anyone who falls outside that stereotypical look is often met with surprise and sometimes even disbelief.
So, back to Señor Chang.
He could be an American who happens to really like Spanish, like me. Or his family could actually be from Latin America. When people immigrate, they don't only immigrate to the U.S. Of course Asians immigrated to Latin America too. There are communities of Asian immigrants all over the Western Hemisphere. In Brazil and Peru there are large communities of Japanese. Chinese immigrated to Cuba generations ago, there is a Barrio Chino in Havana.
Latin America is just as diverse a place as the U.S. So why shouldn't Señor Chang teach Spanish instead of Martial Arts without blowing everyone's mind?