We are exposed to so many thoughts and opinions every day it can be difficult to cut through the noise.
Particularly when it comes to moral judgments.
It can be difficult to discern between accurate critique and cruel criticism but it can be just as challenging to know what to do in either case.
So what happens when someone decides that your efforts to improve yourself are actually harmful to others?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Strong-Elderberry866 when they came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.
“AITA for telling someone to f*ck off after being called a racist for learning Spanish?“
OP began with the setting.
“Last weekend, I was at a house party with some friends.”
“We were mostly just sitting and chatting, nothing crazy.”
“My friend was the one hosting the party so some people in attendance were more of my acquaintances rather than friends but it’s obviously not a big deal and we all get along just fine.”
Everything was great, until…
“The night was going great and I was chatting with a few people and I don’t even remember how it came to be but my friend mentioned that I started learning Spanish recently.”
“It turned out one of the people (Abby) spoke decent Spanish and started a small talk in Spanish, basically, how are you, etc.”
“We exchanged maybe 2 or 3 sentences as I’ve only been learning it for a month.”
“We switched back to English and Abby (now, keep in mind, we are all white and live in Europe) asked if there was a reason why I didn’t learn the ‘standard’ Spanish accent people are taught in school here (we’re in England although I am not English).”
“I simply replied that no but I was focusing on this one specifically because Argentinian telenovelas are my guilty pleasure and I am learning Spanish to be able to watch them.”
“(I learned English to read books so it’s nothing new to me) and I figured it was best to focus on that from the beginning since pronunciation differs quite a lot (think choosing to learn Australian English over RP English) and you’re able to hear it even in the most basic sentences.”
“At this point another person (Stella) chimed in and said that she thought it was cultural appropriation to only learn a language to watch TV.”
“I replied that I disagree, and if anything, it was cultural appreciation, learning a language to appreciate country’s culture, even if it’s watching TV or movies.”
“She basically disagreed with me and asked if I was even planning on visiting Argentina or Latin America and I replied that I currently have no plans but who knows what the future holds and that when I was learning English I didn’t plan on moving to the UK either.”
“At this point, she said that she changed her mind, that it wasn’t cultural appropriation that I was a racist to learn a language with specific dialect/accent and not even planning on visiting the country.”
“I’ve had enough of her at that point and simply told her to f*ck off and ignored her and changed the conversation topic.”
“Now, apparently, Stella has been telling people how awfully I treated her when she only tried to show me that I was in the wrong.”
OP was left to wonder,
“So am I the asshole for telling her to f*ck off?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for some outside opinions.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some were concerned that Stella didn’t know key definitions.
“It might be cultural appropriation if you said you invented the Spanish language.”
“Or tried to trademark it. Or if you fired people for speaking it at the same time you were learning it yourself. Stella needs to learn what cultural appropriation is.” ~ VivaCiotogista
“Does Stella understand what the terms ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘racist’ actually mean?”
“There is no right dialect/accent to any language, so any way that you learn is is the right way. Kudos to you for learning English and Spanish so you can enjoy the originating works even more!”
“And I totally started learning Japanese because I watched a lot of anime when I was younger.”
“It turned into my minor in college since the nuances of Japanese language/culture were fascinating to me.”
“Learning the language really does give you a lot more insight with books and other types of media.”
“There are so many times where the subtitles do technically convey the sense of what is going on but misses all the cultural nuances.” ~ bobobokeh
Others had less patience for Stella.
“😂😂 When you started talking about Stella I was thinking ‘OP should tell her to f*ck off’, then next paragraph you did”
“Why is some random girl bothered that you’re taking your time out of your day learn a new language.”
“My Black African friend is learning Korean so she can watch more K-dramas as she heard the subtitles are actually inaccurate.”
“It’s not cultural appropriation or racist in any capacity.”
“Stella f*ck off and shut the f*ck up NTA”
“Also what ethnicity is Stella?” ~ SleepDangerous1074
” ‘I think she may have heard the works “cultural appropriation” once and wondered when she could try it out.’ “
“I’d be willing to bet money that Stella herself was accused of cultural appropriation because she was doing something that actually was that, and now she wants to accuse everyone else to make herself feel better.”
“I really wish I could’ve been there for this conversation.”
“I’ve got an academic background on this shit and would have absolutely gone to town on Stella.”
“I have a high tolerance for unintentional ignorance, but deliberate and weaponized ignorance just absolutely riles me up.” ~ FeuerroteZora
Commenters pointed out how ridiculous Stella’s perspective was.
“I took spanish in college a long time ago in Chicago.”
“Not current. Large Latin American population there.”
“Everytime I tried using my Spanish with someone who spoke Spanish they were excited and really cool about it. So yeah it aint the actual Spanish speakers who care.”
“Flip side, my fathers wife went to France and tried using french to a host at a restaurant. The stuck up french guy told her not to ruin his language he spoke perfect french in a snotty french accent.”
“Also there is a European country that speaks Spanish too. Are they all racists?” ~ xitox5123
Some were just bewildered.
“Why do people suddenly think it’s racist for learning a different language.”
“Most countries raise their children to speak multiple languages.”
“Bottom line is you are learning a commonly used language so you can better converse with people who struggle with English.”
“Doesn’t matter if you never plan on visiting the county down the line or not. You are educating yourself, and to see that as racist is just complete nonsense.”
“There is nothing racist about this. Who knows when this will come in handy.”
“NTA” ~ Oliviarose85
There were also personal stories.
” ‘Stella’ sounds like the AH.”
“I know ASL, Japanese, German, Spanish. And French.”
“I thought myself ASL and German, I learned the others in school. I’ve never been to any of these country’s and I am not hearing impaired.”
“But it was great that I learned, I ended up working (as a barista) for a huge tech company who had clients from all over the world.”
“I quickly became a go to for clientele because of my willingness to learn and understand what was needed.”
“Nothing is wrong with wanting to understand and communicate with someone else. And I learned Japanese to read Mangas. Not racist on your part, but rude on hers.” ~ PrincessToes2021
And even accolades from native Spanish speakers.
“As an argentinian, we love when people learn spanish with our accent and appreciate our slang and culture.”
“I’ve seen a lot of people on social media, who are not argentinian (or any other nationality they are trying to ‘defend’), saying that learning a specific language or appreciating our traditions are cultural appropiation when in reality it’s not.”
“At least, me and most of the people I know, love it when our culture is learned about and passed on, respectfully of course.”
“Keep on learning! Soon you’ll be able to tell people like Stella off in an Argentinian accent :)”
“PD: Let me know what novelas you’re watching! Los Simuladores, if you haven’t watched it yet, is one of our national tv treasures and I highly reccomend it.” ~ fersnotdead
Opinion is not fact.
The view someone takes of how you live your life and the knowledge you choose to acquire does not reflect on you, just on them.
Bettering yourself, through knowledge and work, is never a bad thing and should be celebrated at every opportunity.
Never tolerate anyone who tries to diminish the efforts you put toward opening your mind to new possibilities, opinions, or languages.