Remembering Gloria Anzaldúa
As an undergraduate student, I was assigned to read Borderlands. Half storytelling, half memoir, Anzaldúa melded a world of supernatural, traditions, and future expectations into one singular piece. Her ability to be a feminist and a Chicana is important in that she was one of the first.
In that moment, I wanted to leave a piece of my life behind for the world to see as she left behind for us a piece of her own world.
“The actual physical borderland that I’m dealing with in this book is the Texas-U.S. Southwest/Mexican Border. The Physiological borderlands, the sexual borderlands, and the spiritual borderlands are not particular to the Southwest. In fact, Borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory. (Preface)”
It was at that moment that a connection occurred, a duality of having two borders or more when cultures were against each other. In not so many words as skin color but culture. Poverty and Wealth are considered cultures. Mexican and Anglo, Southerners and Northerners, Woman and Men, and the list grows depending on the type of culture, the type of borderland we are imposing on ourselves and others.
Anzaldúa instilled a pride in me for being Mexicana, for being a Tejana, and for being a mujer.
“I am a border woman. I grew up between two cultures, the Mexican (with heavy Indian influence) and the Anglo ( as a member of a colonized people in our own territory). I have been straddling the tejas-Mexican border, a and others, all my life. It’s not a comfortable territory to live in, this place of contradictions. Hatred, anger and exploitation are the prominent features of this landscape. (Preface)”
It is with those words that I finally accepted myself for I would always been, a border woman. I would straddle multiple realities in my lifetime and her words inspired me to share my own. Her words have resonated with me my whole life as we bear witness to the faces of Woman. Of what culture dictates to us is a good wife and a bad wife. The Virgen and the Malinche who turns her back on her tribe, who is traitorous against her culture and the aspect of that tradition and what effect it has on our upbringing and the way we view our fellow woman.
“Nothing in my culture approved of me. Habia agarrado malos pasos. Something was wrong with me.( p.38)”
Anzaldúa spent much of her childhood, reading, writing, and drawing. She did not obey and in the book she begins the premise of having a rebel- the Shadow Beast- inside her (p.38) her writings forced us to view what is culture and who are the ones who dictate waht it entails.
In a way, Gloria Anzaldúa was a person who poured her heart out onto that page, not for recognition but to inform. To educate the world on who we are, this stranger in our own land, looked down upon for our odd habits. To be looked down upon by our community for trying to be different. Gloria Azaldúa now has a conference named after her, papers and books quote her and she lives on. She lives on in Aztlan, the place we all search for. The homeland of our indigenous roots, so to say.
I wish I had read her sooner, had learned about her in my teens, maybe my view would have been different. To see a Mexican surname on such a great piece of literary work, to know that it can be me to have my name alongside hers one day is more than I could have ever asked for.
Anzaldúa passed away on May 15, 2004 but her cultural theories live on in Borderlands/La Frontera and in me.
Learn more about Gloria Anzaldúa on her Artist Page.
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