As a Latina mom, my pride at seeing Sofia Vergara looking stunningly elegant in Zac Posen on the Golden Globes red carpet, quickly turned into disbelief as I watched E! host Giuliana Rancic mock her. It wasn’t funny. It was offensive.
I wasn’t the only one who thought this, either. Twitter (see below) was on fire after Rancic said “Bye, bye! I’m from Colombia! I’m Sofia Vergara!” on live TV in her best “Latina” accent after Ryan Seacrest finished interviewing the Colombian actress. Even if you find Vergara’s accent annoying, that doesn’t make it right to make fun of her or anyone who speaks English like her. I thought that we were past those kinds of racist remarks, and since Rancic herself was born in Italy, she should know better.
Not everybody can master more than one language, and if you don’t learn it as a child, it is much harder to be fluent and to speak without an accent. That doesn’t mean you aren’t as smart or as talented as native speakers. It also doesn’t give anybody the right to make fun of somebody just because his or her English isn’t perfect.
I grew up between two countries, the United States and Chile. Even though I am fully bilingual, when I moved to Chile, my Spanish was a bit strange, and my classmates made fun of me. I worked so hard at it that I managed to get rid of the accent, but in the process, my English sometimes sounds a bit accented. Does that make me less capable? Does that give anybody the right to laugh at me? No. We can make jokes together, but if you were to laugh at me instead of with me, I would say you’re just being mean. Or even racist.
As tends to be the case, context is everything. If Giuliana Rancic had been the one interviewing Sofia Vergara, both of them could have made fun of the entire situation, but in this case, the E! host was clearly making fun of Vergara and her way of speaking. Worse still, the Colombian actress couldn’t even reply since she was already off to her next interview.
Do you find it racist or offensive when people mock somebody’s accent? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Photo Courtesy of Giuliana Rancic’s Twitter
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