15 May 2019
Calladitas No More
Identity is developed from a young age. For some people their identity is hard to define, or it is hard for them to pinpoint where they stand. Not being able to identify with an identity can be confusing. In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Gloria Anzaldúa examines the negative attitudes towards the Spanish Chicanos speak and how that in turn creates a confusion in identities. American Identity is not only singular, and language is part of identity.
“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa examines how language plays a role in shaping identity. The author remembers being shamed for being caught speaking Spanish. She recalls, “If you want to be American speak ‘American’… if you don’t like it go back to Mexico where you belong” (1521). As a young child the author is already being isolated and cast out because of the language that she speaks. The assault on her identity does not stop at school, at home she is also judged on her ability to speak. The narrator recalls, “‘que vale toda tu educación si todavía hablas ingles con un ‘accent’’ my mother would say mortified that I spoke English like a Mexican” (1521). This creates a sense of shame for not speaking like an American. It makes one feel as if they need to distance themselves from their culture.
Additionally, Anzaldúa highlights how Chicanos are shamed for not speaking Spanish well or at all. She recalls being bitterly called, “cultural traitor… speaking the oppressor’s language by speaking English [and] ruining the Spanish language. For Chicanos there is no refuge in either of the two ethnic groups that make up their identity.
Anzaldúa bares her insecurities but she embraces them. She proudly declares, “I will no longer be made to feel ashamed for existing, I will have my voice…” (1526). Anzaldúa has accepted that she will not fit in with native English or Spanish speak. She embraces the identity of those like her. She describes Chicanos as, “humildes yet proud, quietos yet wild, nosotros los mexicanos will walk by the crumbling ashes as we go about our business” (1529). Anzaldúa embraces that she does not fit in and she inspires others to embrace the diversity within and to reminds chicanos they come from resilient people.
“Sources of Resilience Among Chicano/a Youth: Forging Identities in the Borderlands” explores how the ethnic identities contribute to resilience of Mexican American/Chicano youth that live near the border. The article notes, “Second generation Mexican American adolescents may hear origin and survival stories from their families that bear little resemblance to textbook, media, and popular accounts written from the perspective of the dominant culture, They may feel pressured to identify as Mexican in their homes and communities, but to act “American” in school and work contexts” (Holleran 4). From a young age Chicanos are leading two separate identities, these two separate world views conflict. This confusion is said to cause conflict and this in turn leads Mexican-American youth down troubled paths, “Chicano/a adolescents draw upon traditional cultural values and beliefs as a means of making meaning and coping with their world. These findings contrast with conclusions of researchers who suggest that Chicano adolescents join gangs because they are rootless or decultured” (8). It is not being confused that get’s chicano/a youth in trouble it is the negative stereotypes and stigmas that people hold that make youth feel worthless. This feeling makes chicano/a youth to act immorally. Having bicultural identities does not leave youth vulnerable.
The article concludes that having bicultural identities produces strength. The article concludes, “traditional values and beliefs that give meaning to adolescents’ experiences, guide their behavior, and inspire positive life” (12). The traditions one learns from one culture can help navigate through the contrasting culture of another. The article states, “adherence to these traditional Mexican American values and beliefs may fortify ethnic identity, give meaning to experience, and assist Chicano/a youth in forging adaptive bicultural identities” (12). The complexity within these two cultures forms resilience in Chicano/a youth as they are able to navigate through both by taking values from both.
Calladitas and Calladitos no more, Chicanas and Chicanos are redefining what it means to be American. They are breaking down negative stereotypes and embracing their identities. Whether one speaks Spanish or not there is much to gain from Gloria Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” Anzaldúa imparts to readers to embrace who they are. Language unifies people, people should use their voices to tell their stories and create conversations rather than shut each other out.
Holleran, Lori K., and Margaret A. Waller. “Sources of Resilience Among Chicano/a Youth: Forging Identities in the Borderlands.” Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, vol. 20, no. 5, Oct. 2003, p. 335. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1023/A:1026043828866.
Anzaldua, Gloria. How to Tame a Wild Tongue. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9th ed., vol. 2, W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.