Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I've had to think about whether to use the formal "usted" or the familiar "tu" with neighbors and friends who are primarily
Spanish speaking. I kept using usted because I figured the more respectul I was, the more--well, respectful I would be. As time has gone on though I kept feeling something was off and I noticed I kept going back and forth, sometimes in the same sentence between tu and usted. I've taken this discomfort to a listening friend where I spent some time releasing tension through talking, laughing and crying ...

So this was the epiphany for me, I'm operating upon the assumptions that all humans really want closeness with other humans, right? And things go well in my relationships--whether with other white people or across racial and class lines--when I remember I'm good and other people want to be close to me.

So why would I hold anyone at arms' length and speak with them formally?

If it's a complete stranger it's almost always a nice way to show you're paying attention to be formal. However, I decided in the case of budding friendships, developing friendships and many other cases it is actually more inclusive to just use tu because what I'm saying there is, "We are close. I'm yours and you're mine." It's actually a very sweet insight. There's nothing disrespectful about it.

Just couldn't finish the post without mentioning that the roots of racism and classism are when we feel bad about ourselves. Have you ever yelled at your kids when you were feeling really great about yourself? Has anyone ever hurt anyone when they were sure of their own goodness and worthiness?

1 Comments:

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