Throughout history there have been many terms created in order to describe someone of Mexican descent. As time progressed, these terms each developed different meanings and labeling oneself as a specific one, can show how they view themselves. A lot of the terms have to do with political references. During the 60’s, the term “Chicano” became very popularized as opposed to the term “Mexican American” that people more commonly used from the 20’s up until the late 50’s (Lopez 2001). According to the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the term “Mexican American” was used by those who believed that “Mexicans are white” whereas the term “Chicano” was used by those who “subscribe[d] to specific racial claims…Non-Whiteness” (Lopez 2001). The Chicano Movement in the 60’s embraced the color of their skin and accepting that they are not white but rather a different category. They wanted to “improve their lot and that of their communities” but also declare their own “liberation and an affirmation of identity” (Martinez 2016). The rise of the term Chicano holds meaning to those who wanted to progress politically while keeping elements of their culture, as well as to claim an identity of their own that is not purely white American but also not completely Mexican. Furthermore, Chicanas during the 60’s began to rise for women’s right. Many Chicanos fought for the right to teach Chicano studies in schools but Chicanas criticized its curriculum for being “male-centered” and “failing to include women’s topics” (Martinez 2016). The lack of inclusion for Chicanas in education began a feminist type movement within the Chicano movement. This stems from the mindset and culture that comes from Mexican descent, where women are not equals to men. Eventually, there was a divide between the Chicanas where some were referred to as “loyalist,” those who did not speak out against gender incorporation, and the “feminist” (Martinez 2016). Authors, such as Gloria Anzaldua, discuss similar issues in her chapter How to Tame a Wild Tongue.
Gloria Anzaldua discusses a concept of the “Borderlands” which she explains is an area in between being American and being Mexican. She specifically uses language to discuss this concept. Anzuldua shows the in-between by explaining how on one side Chicanos are “exposed to the Spanish of the Mexicans” yet on the other they, “hear the Anglos’ incessant clamoring “ so they can “forget [their] language” (Anzaldua 42). She expresses how being in the borderlands can be confusing because on one side, they are being exposed to the Spanish language, which in part, is part of their culture. Yet on the other side, they are being exposed to the English language and made to feel ashamed when using Spanish. Anzaldua shows this by switching between both languages as she writes (also known as Spanglish). This eventually causes confusion and a rift, which leaves Chicanos feeling stuck in a middle or in-between, which she calls the Borderlands. Furthermore, Gloria Anzaldua also discusses the unfairness between men and women in this culture. She writes various phrases in Spanish deemed as “derogatory if applied to women” but that she has “never heard this applied to men” (Anzaldua 35). This shows how the culture holds women to certain standards as opposed to men being allowed to be freer with their actions and words.
For the creative adaptation I have decided to create the concept of the Borderlands that Gloria Anzaldua discusses in How to Tame a Wild Tongue. I split the page in half, filling one side with images that represent American culture. The other half filled with images representing Mexican culture, and the middle, which is the Borderlands, representing Chicana culture. I specifically chose Chicana instead of Chicano (focusing slightly more on the women) because although Chicanos allowed for a new identity, the misrepresentation of women was and is still present. Mexican culture is very well known to disregard the women even still in modern times and I wanted to be able to represent them in my creative adaptation. Alongside, I picked this specific piece of literature and concept because my parents are from Mexico. I am the first generation that people would call “Mexican American” but after reading this piece, I found myself pondering on what term I associated myself with, Latina? Mexican American? Chicanca? I realized I was not too sure what being called a Chicana represented. Also, when reading about the Borderlands, I found that concept to be very true. There is a time where it feels as though you do not belong to either culture fully and that is were the Chicano culture derives from. I decided to use a collage in order to visually represent the mixture of both cultures that someone who is Mexican but also American carries within them.
In conclusion, Gloria Anazulda’s How to Tame a Wild Tongue discusses a new type of American Identity that people of Mexican roots created. She highlights this identity by explaining Chicano language and the borderland in which they reside. She also highlights the topic of men and women inequality. This creative adaptation is able to visually show how someone can be stuck not fully fitting into one culture but mixing two cultures and creating a new identity.
Anzaldua, Gloria. How to Tame a Wild Tongue.
Lopez, Ian F.Haney. “Protest, Repression, and Race: Legal Violence and the Chicano Movement.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, vol. 150, no. 1, Nov. 2001, p. 205. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/3312916.
Martinez-Catsam, Ana Luisa. “Mexican Americans and the Chicana/O Movement.” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 35, no. 4, Summer 2016, p. 102. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5406/jamerethnhist.35.4.102.