Borderlands La Frontera By Gloria Anzaldua

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Borderlands La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua

Borderlands/La frontera is a book that defines these boundaries and that gives a name to the inhabitants of the borderlands, whether it is the people who live on the US/Mexican border, women or lesbians. It is a book that crosses all boundaries of genre and never allows itself to be defined: it is memoir, it is a book of poetry, it is a history book. Most of all it is a demand. It demands that these voices, corralled and silenced by the unnatural boundaries that contain them, are heard and that they are listened to. (Anzaldúa, pp51-57)

Reading Borderlands/La frontera is never easy to read, or frankly, enjoyable. It never was meant to be. It is abrasive and unapologetic as Anzaldúa dissects all of the things that have enraged her, from the racism she encountered in the United States to the misogyny and homophobia of her fellow Mexicans. It begins with a brief history of Texas and the surrounding areas that once belonged to Mexico and were wrongfully taken by the United States in the Mexican-American War. (Flores, pp 142-156)

The point of revealing that history is to contextualize Anzaldúa's childhood: even as a sixth-generation American (three generations more than me, for example), Anzaldúa and other members of her community were constantly treated as second-class citizens. As a woman, she was treated like a second-class citizen in her own communities. (Moraga, pp 205-207) As a lesbian, she was treated even worse, rejected by the other women in her community. It's an unimaginable amount of mistreatment and discrimination and Borderlands/La frontera puts words to her story and the story of so many others who faced such discrimination.

The following chapters, through a somewhat stream-of-consciousness style, address different aspects of society and culture that have impacted Anzaldúa's life, from sexism, to questions of race and racism, to sexuality in society. The most fascinating chapter for me was language and language as identity. There is a significant amount of Spanish, and though I know Spanish, this book would not be too difficult to read for someone who does not speak Spanish as long as they used a Spanish/English dictionary once in a while.

….“So, if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity - I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself. Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex-Mex and all the other languages I speak, I cannot accept the legitimacy of myself. Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate. I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my ...
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