Protest outside of US Customs and Border Protection

Manhattan Douchebro Threatens to Call ICE Because Women Dared to Speak Spanish in His Presence

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Imagine how terrible your life must be if the very sound of another language is enough to send you into a hissyfit. Not just any language, but Spanish. Specifically. Because you know what Spanish means. Spanish means “immigrants.” Spanish means “illegals.” Surely, that’s the only explanation for anyone speaking anything other than English in the United States.

Specifically Spanish, though, because something tells me that if the guy in the above video heard people speaking French, he wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

According to Gothamist, Edward Suazo, who posted the above video to Facebook, said that his wife and her best friend were speaking with the cashier in Spanish when this unidentified man randomly accosted them at a Fresh Kitchen in Manhattan, NYC. When he was approached by a manager and asked to simmer down, the guy wouldn’t let up, saying (as though it made all the sense in the world) “Every person I listen to—he’s speaking it, she’s speaking it. This is America. Your clients and your staff are speaking Spanish to staff when they should be speaking English…”

It wasn’t enough for him to yell about not being catered to by random people speaking in the language of their choice, but he had to be threatening about it as well. He continued:

“My guess is they’re undocumented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of them taken out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off my money—I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here.”

The amount of ignorance on display here is staggering. A couple of things:

  1. Just because people are speaking Spanish doesn’t automatically make them “foreign.” I was born and raised in New York, and have been known to speak Spanish. Publicly, even! What’s more, if this guy questioned where my parents were from, I’d be able to say “America” with 100% accuracy, because my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917. Don’t get it twisted because of the West Side Story song. Puerto Rico is “America.” There are also a million other reasons why people would be speaking Spanish. Has this dude never heard of tourists? Then again, he probably assumes that people from Latin America can’t afford to travel.
  2. That said, it’s the height of xenophobia and entitlement to assume that people who have nothing to do with you and who aren’t even talking to you owe you the pleasure of speaking in a language you can eavesdrop in. You can’t understand a language being spoken near you? Maybe it’s on you to learn how to speak another language.
  3. This guy, like far too many other Americans, automatically equates “undocumented” with “being here illegally,” and that is just hella inaccurate. In my piece about The Good Place‘s Bambadjan Bamba, I talk about the many ways in which U.S. citizens misunderstand what being undocumented even means. The biggest misconception being that, for example, those under DACA are here “illegally.” DACA is a legal protection, giving people the right to work here with special permissions. There are myriad other ways that non-citizens can work here, too, as is the case in many other countries.
  4. Lastly, and I’m going to say this really loudly so the people in the back can hear it: THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT, AT A FEDERAL LEVEL, HAVE AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE. So, when someone says “This is America. You should speak English.” My response will always be “Why? We’re not in England.” Not only does the U.S. not have an official language, but the language spoken most in this country, second to English? Is Spanish.
  5. As of 2015, there were an estimated 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. total. That means not just Latinx, but from everywhere in the world. Meanwhile, Latinx accounts for 17% of the total U.S. population. That’s over 50 million as of the last census. That means that it’s more likely that, when you hear Spanish being spoken, it’s being spoken by a citizen of the United States. 

Thankfully, this guy was thrown out of the Fresh Market, and the women he bothered were able to remain and shop. New York City is one of the most diverse places in the country. This guy picked the wrong place in which to be a racist.

(via Gothamist, featured image: tedeytan on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA)

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Author
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.