IT WAS AUTUMN in suburban Richmond. Cheerful, acute voices overwhelmed the muted sounds of falling leaves.
“Córrele Guillermo,” yelled Elena to her toddler. “Te tengo aquí unas galletitas.”
Just next to her, a round, middle-aged face surfaced from behind a USA Today. With deepening, fresh wrinkles, he glanced and gruntled, “In this park we only speak English!”
The mother turned slightly. Taking a cookie from a Mickey Mouse tupperware, she calmly said, “I’m sorry sir. In this park you only speak English. We speak Spanish and English, and perhaps some French or Portuguese if we really try.”
The stranger had no language to reply. He again sank his face into his paper’s sports pages.
LUIS A. MARENTES is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has also been a visiting professor at MIT and Tehran University’s Faculty of World Studies. He is a contributor to The Huffington Post’s Latino Voices and Latino Rebels. You can read his personal blog at UMASS here and find many of his Twitter musings at @marentesluis.