Air Force officer says she was confronted for speaking Spanish in uniform

Elizabeth Howe
August 08, 2019 - 10:19 am

A United States Air Force officer stationed out of Pearl Harbor was confronted by a woman for speaking Spanish in uniform, according to a Facebook post published by the officer. 

Airman First Class Xiara Mercado was on the phone with her mother, speaking Spanish, while waiting for her drink inside a Starbucks — a woman confronted her on her way out of the store. 

"You shouldn't be speaking Spanish, that's not what that uniform represents...It's distasteful," the woman said, according to Mercado's Facebook post. 

Mercado asked the woman to clarify what exactly was distasteful. 

"You speaking another language that does not represent America and that uniform you are wearing, that's distasteful," the woman responded. 

Mercado said she needed to collect her thoughts before responding she was so shocked. 

"I'm sorry ma'am the only distasteful thing here is that you are clueless to your discrimination, please educate your self. Have a nice day," Mercado responded before she started walking away. 

According to Mercado, the woman said "I don't know how you are allowed to wear that uniform." 

"I wear it proudly," she responded. 

Mercado wrote in the Facebook post that she was "more sad than mad" but above all "disgusted." 

"Even though I wanted to say a lot more I have respect for people and the uniform I wear... That's the best I could do in that situation...If you don't see what is wrong with my story you are part of the problem."

According to a 2017 Pew Research study, the number of active duty Hispanic personnel was 12 percent in 2015 — three times what it was in 1980. 

The majority of the more than 4,300 comments on Mercado's Facebook post are supportive of her actions and thank her for her service — in English and Spanish. 

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