Racist interactions where people are told to stop speaking Spanish—or their native language— are seemingly running rampant but helpful onlookers are a rarity. In a recent plane interaction on the way to New York, author and Bravo’s “Jersey Belle” star Jaime Primak encountered a racist passenger who told her “please stop speaking Spanish.”
Immediately, she says, the passenger sitting next to the man who told her to “stop speaking Spanish” came to her defense by also speaking in Spanish. The flight attendant did the same in a show of camaraderie.
This man just asked me to “please stop speaking Spanish” on this plane to NYC (in his defense it’s very early and he’s racist) so the man next to him STARTED SPEAKING SPANISH and then the flight attendant and my GOD i have never wanted to get up and dance more than i do now.
— Jaime Primak (@JaimePrimak) July 16, 2019
She took to Twitter to show her gratitude. She tweeted in Spanish in saying, “Estoy tan feliz, que podría bailar.” Primak, who is half-Jewish and half-Italian, shared the interaction on Twitter which quickly went viral and many shared their own experiences on being judged or treated differently for speaking a language other than English in America.
Since her initial tweet regarding the racist incident, Primak has been sharing #Spanish101 tweets saying, “Today’s Spanish lesson – #spanish101 You are not alone. No estas solo,” and “Today’s Spanish lesson. (This might be mad Dominican but this is how I say it) The lights went out, se fue la luz (seh-fweh-la-loose).”
Ni en México, ni en Yucatán discriminamos a los estadounidenses cuando hablan inglés, ni tampoco les pedimos que hablen español; pero la verdad es que somos una raza única.
— Carlos (@CharlyBaron3) July 21, 2019
One time while waiting in line me and my mom were talking in Spanish. We started laughing about something and the woman in front of us turned around and hatefully said she knows what we are saying about her. In Spanish I asked what did we say.. She ignored me.
— ❄ §uzy Q 😷🌊🦁 (@SueZieCue) July 18, 2019
The rallying support from fellow passengers in the face of racism is reminiscent of the same supportive sentiments that came after Donald Trump tweeted “go back to your country” to four congresswomen, including AOC. In the wake of that tweet, Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley became known as “The Squad” and “We Are the Squad” shirts were designed to show support. Recently, neighbors of a man being pursued by ICE formed a human chain—showing a beautiful sign of solidarity—so that he and his son could get out of their car and enter their home safely.
Supportive tweets for Primak also pointed out that the racist man who told her to “stop speaking Spanish” was probably on the wrong flight considering that he was on his way to New York City—a place home to more than 3 million Latinx, according to Pew Research Center. The show of support she received is in stark contrast to two recent incidents where racist white women confronted Spanish speakers. In Philadelphia, a young white woman told a Puerto Rican woman that she hoped “Trump deports you” (Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens) and in Florida, two elderly white women told the manager at a Burger King he should “go back to Mexico” though he too is Puerto Rican.
During a time when Trump’s racist rhetoric runs rampant in our country, it’s important to share stories of communities supporting and uplifting each other in the face of it all.