April 22nd, 2012

30. Richard vs. Ricardo

“Outside of the house was public society; inside the house was private. Just opening or closing the screen door behind me was an important experience…Nervously, I’d arrive at the grocery store or hear there the sounds of the gringo – foreign to me – reminding me that in this world so big, I was a foreigner. But then I’d return… I’d hear voiced beyond the screen doors talking in Spanish. For a second or two, I’d stay, linger there, listening. Smiling, I’d here my mother call out, saying in Spanish (words) : ‘Is that you, Richard’ All the while her sounds would assure me: You are home now; come closer; inside. With us” (Rodriguez 1578-1579)

This notion of the public domain vs. the private domain is a recurring theme in the immigrant narrative. This particular story reminds me of Gloria Anzaldúas “Borderlands / La Frontera” because the private and public seem to be separated by a border.  The screen door that opens and closes parallels the notion of the “borderland.” On one side, Richard is a foreigner walking nervously amongst “gringos.” On the other side, in private, Ricardo could speak Spanish and feel comfortable. The Spanish words that his mother speaks translates into something different for him: “You are home now; come closer; inside. With us,” they are words of comfort. On the other hand, the “sounds of the gringos” are foreign. For Richard, Spanish words are the words of home, while English words are the words of the “public society” that only bring him discomfort and nervousness and constantly remind him that he is a “foreigner.”

April 22nd, 2012

29. Puerto Rican Young Lords

“‘ Tengo Puerto Rico en Mi Corazón’ – ‘ I Have Puerto Rico in My Heart.’ We loved it, and it soon spread through out Puerto Rican circles. Only years later did we lean that it contained a slight grammatical error, a testimonial to the bad Spanish most of us ‘spoke.’ We were truly example of Ricans raised in the state” (Guzmán 1445-1446)

I love the slogan of this group because it demonstrates their struggle with identity, yet, in a way, it shows how they have conquered their own identity. [This reminded me of a book I read by Carlos Bulosan, “American is in the Heart.” The idea being that the “America” that immigrants dream of is still growing and developing (it only exists in the heart).] Even if the Latino community was forced to assimilate, they would always keep their Puerto Rican identity in their heart, protected.  It is also interesting how the grammatical errors in Spanish rather than English testified for their “Rican” identity in the states. Normally, one would assume that their English would have grammatical errors. However, this mistake embodies the essence of straddling two separate identities but remaining both American and “Rican.”

April 22nd, 2012

28 . Language and Connections

“… it did not suggest that English was ready to do to me what Spanish itself had done to others so many during its evolution, what it had done, in fact, to my own parents: wrenched them from the arms of their original language.

And yet I am being unfair to Spanish – and also, therefore, to English. Languages do not only expand through conquest: they also grow by offering a safe haven to those who come to them in danger, those who are falling from some place far less safe than a mother’s womb, those who, like my own parents, were forced to flee their native land” (Dorfman 1508)

I find it interesting how Dorfman talks about languages primarily as connections between people, a positive thing.  The grammar of the first sentence from this excerpt is a little confusing but I am pretty sure that the narrator implies that the English language ” wrenched [my parents] from the arms of their original language.” The personification of the Spanish language and the aggressive verb, “wrenched” implies there is more to his parent’s loss than the Spanish language.  Maybe, the English language not only “wrenched” them away from the Spanish language, but it also may have “wrenched” them away from Spanish culture and heritage. The narrator continues to speak about language in a positive way; he states, “languages do not only expand through conquest: they also grow by offering a safe haven to those who come to them in danger.” According to the narrator, the spreading and knowledge of language is beneficial for those who seek safety, and maybe the safety of connections with others.

April 22nd, 2012

27. Reflection on the Uprooting of Mexicans and Indians

Gloria Anzaldúa comments on the effects of the Treaty of Guadalupe – Hidalgo on Mexicans:

“The Gringo, locked into the fiction of white superiority, seized complete political power, stripping Indians and Mexicans of their land while their feet were still rooted in it. Con el destierro y el exilio fuimos desunados, destroncados, destripados – we were jerked out by the roots, truncated, disemboweled, dispossessed, and separated from our identity and our history” (Anzaldúa 1497)

Anzaldúa reflects on the history of the United States and the Mexicans role in this history.  The Treaty of Guadalupe – Hidalgo annexed land into the United States that Mexicans resided on, literally “stripping Indians and Mexicans of their land while their feet were still rooted in it.” Anzaldúa emphasizes the notion that the Mexicans and the Indians had laid there roots on this land before the Europeans. Anzaldúa uses the land as a metaphor: “we were jerked out by the roots, truncated, disemboweled, dispossessed, and separated from our identity and our history.” The words, “truncated truncated, disemboweled, dispossessed, and separated” imply a sense that the “Gringos” dehumanized the Indians and the Mexicans. Anzaldúa claims that this uproot not only separated them from their land, but also from their identity and their history (by forcing assimilation and American citizenship on these people and taking away what was theirs).  I also find it interesting that Anzaldúa refers to “white superiority” as “fiction,” implying that there is really no such thing as white superiority. She highlights that in reality, white’s are not a superior race, but this superiority is a social construct.


April 22nd, 2012

26. Trans-

“Exile is not only alienation. It can be a cosmopolitanism, albeit an involuntary and painful one. The experience of transposition, which is deeply related to translation, implies the possible convergence of two unpaired spheres, that of the exile and that of the host. People in exile are never completely dispossessed; like snails, they always carry alone their homes; the languages, customs, traditions of their countries. They transpose and translate; they live between two shores” (Armand 1624)

I found this narrative of a Cuban exile very interesting. The ideas and feelings that Armand expresses about being an exile parallel the feelings of many immigrants that we have read about in class. Armand’s identity as a state of “translation,” “alienation,” “transposition,” “dispossessed,” etc… do not only apply to those who are exiled, but anyone who migrates from their native country. The repetitive use of the prefix “trans” parallels this sense of crossing from one state into another (not only physical movement, but also the metaphorical movement of one’s identity). Clearly, he is stuck between two identities, the identity of his native country and the identity of his “host” country. Although Armand explains that the convergence between these two identities can be “involuntary and painful,” he also states that the convergence of these two identities can converge into one: ” implies the possible convergence of two unpaired spheres.” I found this statement to be a hopeful one, as if Armand has hope that one day his identities can merge into one, while still preserving his native culture of “languages, customs, traditions.”

April 22nd, 2012

25. Public vs. Private

” I walked under the elevated, and turned right at Eighty-seventh Street. I began to metamorphose; the closer I got to my mother’s house, the more Colombian I became. Intense cravings for foods that were unavailable to me in the city – sach as ajiaco, arepa de buevo, morcillas, chicharrones – awoke in me” (Manrique 1731)

The narrator identifies as two different people in this excerpt from “Latin Moon in Manhattan,” a public man and a private man. Clearly, the narrator cannot identify as Colombian when he is in the public domain. He has cravings for Colombian food that “were unavailable” to him when he was not home.  These unattainable foods (outside of his home) parallel a sort of unavailable identity when he is in the public domain. This reminded me of our discussion in class about the different identites we take on in different settings. It also reminded me of other immigrant narratives I have read. For example, I am reading a book about immigrants from Calcutta and it is interesting how they have these public and private identities as well. They even have “good names” (public names) and nicknames (names only used by the family).


April 22nd, 2012

24. Lanaguage as a Weapon

“And, in a way, it didn’t matter very much that my parents could not speak English with ease. Their linguistic difficulties has no serious consequences. My mother and father made themselves understood at the county hspital clinic and at the government offices. And yet, in another way, it mattered very much – it was unsettling to hear my parents struggle with English. Hearing them, I’d grow nervous, my clutching trust in their protection and power weakened” (Rodriguez 1578)

When we discussed this in class I was really intrigued by the idea of language as a weapon. Rodriguez compares their weakness in the English language to a weakening of power and protection, implying that language is used as a weapon for protection. This also relates to the notion that “knowledge is power.” The more you know, the more you can use in order to protect yourself (which is a positive thing). In other immigrant narratives, the English language is used as a weapon to but other people down, especially those who do not speak English.  As I thought more about it, it seems that if everyone were assimilated and everyone spoke fluent English, the language could no longer be used as a weapon.

April 17th, 2012

23. “Race in America” Response

When I first started watching the first video (Inside the AC360 doll study), what struck me the most were the reasons the children gave for their responses. Without the reasons, “ because he is black” or “because he is brown,” one could argue that the white children simply pick the darker figures because it is different from their skin color (similar to how the young white girl pointed to the lighter child as the “good” child because “she looks like me”) Meaning, the white children would pick any child, weather the other child were red or purple etc…, that is not white like themselves. There are obvious social constructions on race that drive the 76% of the white children to choose the two darkest skin tone when prompted to “show me the dumb child.” However, this notion is undercut because even the black children hold this “white bias.” Also, even if it were true that the children simply favor those who look like themselves, the extreme cases of those kinds of ideas are what cause these racial stereotypes to begin in the first place.

It is interesting to see the shocked mother explain that she can’t understand why her daughter looked down at the darker figures because she explains they never talked about race in that way. The black father (whose daughter chooses racially neutral answers) explains that he instills these beliefs in the child, unlike the white mother who simply never addressed it. This response implies that race should be something parents talk about with their children, especially in order to undercut stereotypes that are perpetuate throughout society.

The 5th and 6th video points out that the results of these tests do not imply that parents teach the children this “white bias.” However, society constructs and perpetuates these stereotypes in children. The last video advises parents to simply inform their children of the other side or the narratives that are not being told in order to prevent these types of one-sided perspectives on a certain group of people. This reminded me of depiction of Latino’s in American culture. We began the semester discussing our Latino Anthology and Latino’s writer’s relation to literary canon. The notion of “minor literature” is indirectly addressed in this last video and how this “minor literature” could, indeed, stop the perpetuation of the stereotypes that we see in the media and other societal constructs.

April 4th, 2012

22. The Prohibited (Response to Video)

This video was hard to watch because I couldn’t even imagine that these types of encounters actually go on to that extreme.  It was also interesting to be viewing it from the view of the Mexican man. From this perspective it was easy to imagine all of the white people surrounding him.  It was overwhelming to be viewing a clip of it, I can’t imagine how the man must have felt when he was actually in the situation.  The video depicts Unites States citizens protesting against immigration.  It was interesting to watch this after reading Gloria Anzaldúa’s excerpt from Borderlands/La Frontera. In this excerpt, Anzaldúa addresses the U.S – Mexican border as not only a literal division, but a metaphorical border “where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds” (1493).  Anzaldúa refers to Mexico as the “Third World” and the United States as the “first.” It is interesting to note that Mexico bleeds as a result of the “grating,” or tension, while the United States does not. Anzaldúa states, ” It is in a constant state of transition.  The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants”(1493). The tension between the two groups in the video display this sort of  conflict between those who are allowed and those who are “prohibited” and “forbidden.” It also displays the common stereotypes attributed to those who are “forbidden,” she states, “the troublesome, the mongrel, the mulato, the half-breed, the half dead…” (1493).

March 29th, 2012

21. “Nanny Spanish” v. “Star Spanglish Banner”

I think the first video has a more effective means of getting a political message across because there is a more specific target group and argument made in this video. It also made a bigger problem and argument applicable to a more relatable situation on a smaller scale than the “Star Spanglish Banner” video.  I feel like both videos have freedom of speech but I think more so the first video.  Not only are there curses and what not, but it also has a very critical view of a very specific group of people.

I would say that the first video’s manner of speaking are most legitimate. The second video has moments where it seems like immigrants want to turn American upside down or burn the flag (maybe satirizing stereotypes?). The second video seems to carry more symbolic power through the use of images and the use of the “Star-Spangled Banner”, the first video didn’t have as many symbols.

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