Am I Allowed to Correct My Afro-Latina Girlfriend’s English?

Race Manners: She knows two languages. You know one. Consider learning from her instead of just pointing out her mistakes.

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So I don’t see anything wrong with doing the obvious and simply asking how she’d like you to respond when she makes a mistake. Ask her, “If you say something that I notice isn’t standard English, do you want me to correct it, or is that annoying?”

Both Campos and Simmons think it would be great—for these types of exchanges and for all of your other interactions—if you expressed an interest in learning Spanish from your girlfriend to create a more equal playing field, where you can be the student as well as a teacher.

“Together, they can pick up the missing parts while growing closer as a couple,” says Campos. Simmons suggests that the two of you will have a better foundation for an exchange about different kinds of sentence structure and how concepts are expressed if you’re actively grappling with these things, too.

I usually hand out the kudos-for-caring in this column, but this time I’ll take relationship expert Campos’ suggestion.

“Your reader needs to buy himself a cookie or something, because he deserves it. By asking how to be culturally sensitive, he demonstrated that he already is,” she told me. I agree. However you deal with this dilemma, I’m confident that your compassion will translate.

The Root’s senior staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, covers the intersection of race with news, politics and culture. She wants to talk about the complicated ways in which ethnicity, color and identity arise in your personal life—and provide perspective on the ethics and etiquette surrounding race in a changing America. Follow her on Twitter.

Need race-related advice? Send your questions to racemanners@theroot.com.

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