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EL NO SABO KID

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

By Alyssa Diaz

Photo Credit to Pexels

Ever heard of a “No Sabo” Kid? A "no-sabo" kid is somebody Latin who cannot speak Spanish and thus are generally shunned for being "white-washed" with no connection to their culture, according to The Oracle. The nickname was formed because of inexperienced Spanish speakers who frequently use the wrong conjugation, “no sabo," rather than, "no sé," for "I don't know."

South Florida is the place for all Hispanics. Other than English, Spanish is the most often spoken language in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. But not all Latinos are capable of communicating well.

This label has harmed more Hispanic lives than we know, particularly when “no sabo” kids are the butt of someone's white-washed-Spanish joke. Several may have encountered stereotypes by non-Latinos, but few people discuss how considerably more painful it is to be excluded by their same kind for not speaking Spanish well.

The way the phrase is used on social media indicates it is intended to be disparaging. This raises the basic question: why should some Hispanics ignore and send hate in situations where they might otherwise be welcoming and educating?


The Latino population must embrace the variety that originates from Hispanic families in the U.S. who embrace similar cultural traditions but lack a unified identity. We can't disrespect these Spanish speakers solely because they haven’t fully perfected the language.

Graphic Credit to Hija De Tu Madre

In the same vein, White or white-presenting Hispanics don't enjoy getting nicknamed gringos, we shouldn't criticize someone based on their fluency with the language. Considering that several Latino celebrities either didn't know Spanish at all or speak very little, this illustrates how bilingualism shouldn't be the only characteristic that the Latino community uses to define itself.


Dr. Beatriz Calvo-Peña, associate professor of Spanish, believes that regardless of cultural origin, having Spanish language skills in a multicultural society is important.


“Miami is a multilingual city and ideally, everybody should have some level of bilingualism in this equation," she said.

While there may still be significant effort to be done to fully explain and comprehend what it means to be Latino, it is plainly evident that the term "no sabo" must be instantly dropped from everyday speech and reclassified as the insult that it is.

To obtain a job, you're advised to use your Spanish if you’re Hispanic. But when you don’t know much, your community and relatives may make feel like you’re not Latino enough. According to HuffPost, it's marginalization upon marginalization.

“Hispanic” seeks to classify individuals based on their usage of the language. According to the Harvard Crimson, it's difficult to comprehend how Hispanics who are never trained to communicate in Spanish can be included in the category. Yet this is no justification for labeling "no sabo" individuals not Hispanic.

Karly Perez, a senior majoring in adverting and public relations, said she never spoke Spanish at home even though her family is from Cuba and El Salvador.


“I learned Spanish in school. Since my parents had been in the U.S. for a long time, they felt comfortable speaking English when I was born,” she said.

This is what is called imposed assimilation.

Photo Credit to Pexels

Seventy percent of Americans believe that speaking English is essential to being “genuinely” American, stated the Harvard Crimson. It shouldn't serve as a shock that several families choose not to teach their kids Spanish even though it is beneficial for these children to learn the language.

In some bilingual homes, English is the primary language because only one parent speaks Spanish and the other does not. Or Hispanic parents choose to talk English to their children to learn English themselves.

Furthermore, since English is used at school, Hispanic children link Spanish with the language of grown-ups, whereas English is seen as the language of kids, stated Dr. Calvo-Peña.

“Talking to strangers and to family members, I was embarrassed of my Spanish. I do have a broken Spanish, and it’s Spanglish,” said Perez. “I would just say hola, como estas and bien y tu because I didn't know how to hold a conversation.”

However, to reinforce Calvo-Peña’s point, Miami is a city where Spanish-speaking homes are still quite prominent.

According to Miami Matters, in 2022, 24.31 percent of kids ages five and up in Miami-Dade only speak English at home, and 66.74 percent speak Spanish.

Nevertheless, even if Latino kids speak Spanish well, they tend to use English with their own Spanish-speaking friends in school. Their Spanish becomes reduced to a dialect that is only used within family circles and not for everyday communication or for self-edification.

Photo Credit to Hija De Tu Madre

Yanilda Pichardo, a junior majoring in public relations and advertising, grew up in a Dominican household here in Miami where Spanish was her first language growing up. Today, however, her English is stronger than her Spanish.

“I was fluent until I went to elementary school where nobody spoke Spanish. I was put into ESOL and lost my fluent Spanish,” she said. “My parents spoke Spanish, but I needed to learn English quick, we had to switch the languages. I’m not fluent anymore it’s more moderate... I’m the whitewashed one.”

As many Hispanics are third generation now, there is a greater need for language instruction in Miami. Calvo-Peña wishes that authorities invested more in language education, making it a priority.

“Throughout school, since Spanish classes became an elective, I thought I knew Spanish but in reality, I didn't,” said Perez. “I went to a school that is largely populated with Spanish kids. Typically, mostly Spanish kids took those Spanish electives, and I didn't want to be part of it because I didn't want to feel like an outcast.”

Whichever level you know Spanish at, you should never feel inferior, ashamed, or afraid to use it. Although your Spanish may not be perfect, it is always yours. Be pleased with anything you know, no matter how little.



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