Latinx Files: The ‘Non-English’ Edition

Bad Bunny accepts the award for musica urbana album at the 65th Grammy Awards.
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

What a weekend for “Non-English,” amirite?

The descriptor first had its moment in the spotlight during the latest episode of “Saturday Night Live,” appearing in the captions as host Pedro Pascal delivered a punchline in Spanish. It would show up a few skits later, in a rehash of the “Latina moms be like” bit that was as hilarious as it was derivative — what’s not to love about the Mandalorian playing an overbearing mother?

But that was nothing compared with Sunday’s broadcast of the Grammys, where it accompanied Bad Bunny’s very Puerto Rican and Caribbean performance of “El Apagón” and “Despúes de la Playa” at the start of the award show. “Non-English” was also there when Benito accepted the “gringo Grammy” for best música urbana album, serving as a text stand-in for a heartfelt acceptance speech.

It did not go unnoticed.

“Non-English” had gone viral by the time the credits even rolled. On Twitter, people were split between clowning on the broadcast for what turns out is a standard practice of live closed captioning — “My first language is Non-English,” quipped comedian Cristela Alonzo — and expressing indignation that CBS would do the biggest star in the world dirty like that. Such was the backlash that by the time the Grammys were rebroadcast in prime time on the West Coast, the network had replaced “Non-English” with an actual Spanish translation.

It was too little, too late. By Monday, the perceived slight had become a meme. It was open season on CBS. Even Spotify and Netflix tried to get in on a joke — the former with a playlist and the latter with a meme via its “Con Todo” social media account.

It has now been a few days since the Grammys and here I am still thinking about it. What’s my takeaway? I’m not sure, other than I think it’s both hilarious and great that a bunch of Bad Bunny stans have the power to bring us Spanish-language captions. It’s also interesting this incident took place after I’d written in the newsletter about how Spanish isn’t a prerequisite to Latinidad, but here we have a situation in which it very much is.


Most important, [bloviates in non-English].

For a more nuanced and intelligent take on “Non-English”-gate, I recommend this segment on “The Takeaway” featuring Yarimar Bonilla, professor in the Department of Africana, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies at Hunter College and director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY.

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Fernando Valenzuela gets his long-overdue roses

Pitcher Fernando Valenzuela
The Dodgers will be retiring Fernando Valenzuela’s number at a three-day celebration later this season.
(David Fields / Associated Press)

The Los Angeles Dodgers finally did it. On Saturday, the team announced at its annual fan fest that it will be retiring Fernando Valenzuela’s number at a three-day celebration later this season. To say that this is long overdue and very much the correct decision is an understatement.

As sports columnist Bill Plaschke writes, the number “is more than digits on a uniform, it is a symbol of community, a monument to connection, a deep blue landmark that has long bonded a city and its baseball team.

“Thirty-four is the Dodgers’ true magic number.”

The franchise was fundamentally changed when the pudgy kid from Etchohuaquila, Mexico, came to Los Angeles more than four decades ago. Fernando Valenzuela not only helped the Dodgers win the 1981 World Series, he also brought scores of Mexican Americans to a venue built on top of the demolished neighborhoods of Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop.


Valenzuela made being a Doyer fan a key marker for L.A. Latinidad for many. He’s a huge reason why mariachi is now a staple at Dodger Stadium and why an organ rendition of “La Chona” is constantly played over the P.A. system — shout-out to el compa Dieter Ruehle.

Good on the Dodgers for finally doing what a large portion of their fan base has been clamoring for for years. Here’s hoping the team does right by their other World Series-winning Mexican pitcher.

For more on the cultural impact of Fernando Valenzuela, check out “Fernandomania @ 40,” a multi-episode documentary series released by The Times in April 2021. If you’re a fan of the team make sure to sign up for the “Dodger Dugout” newsletter, written by my esteemed colleague Houston Mitchell.

Things we read this week that we think you should read

— Utility reporter Karen Garcia wrote about the relationship between curanderismo and mental health. As Garcia notes, Latinxs “do not seek out therapy or other mental health support at the same rates as other racial or ethnic groups.” As a result some people seek out spiritual healers to fill that gap. The story also delves into a growing trend in Mexico — an integrative approach to medicine that uses traditional medicine as a complement to modern medicine.

This story resonated with me because I have been on the receiving end of some seriously bad luck — in the last month alone, I’ve lost my keys and wallet, had repeated car issues, suffered through a bad case of food poisoning, and was yet again let down by the Dallas Cowboys. It’s enough to make one feel cursed, or at least in desperate need of a limpia. I know it won’t solve all my problems, but I am certain it will provide the peace of mind that comes with being spiritually reset.

— There are few experiences that are as quintessentially Angeleno as buying a delicious bacon-wrapped hot dog from a vendor outside a big sporting event or concert. But did you know that it’s illegal for these purveyors of delicious tubular meats to set up shop in certain areas such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Despite facing hefty fines, many street vendors refuse to abandon the area and have pushed back, going so far as suing the city. As LAist reports, they have also picked up a key ally at City Hall, newly elected Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez.

What I’m currently listening to: “Celia & Johnny,” the 1974 Fania Records classic, in honor of the late great Celia Cruz. The queen of salsa will soon become the first Afro Latina to appear on the U.S. quarter. Story by NPR.


— Eit, you should probably tell your mom about this Fabuloso recall.

Lol calm down, conericot.