Born in Texas, poet and Chicana activist Gloria Anzaldúa (1942-2004) has described the space inhabited between English and Spanish, between American and Mexican identity, as the Borderlands. The commingling of English and Spanish in Anzaldúa's celebrated poetry underscores the hybrid identity, or third space, she and others like her inhabit. Here, I explore the stories of two bilingual people I met during my summer in Mexico.
To live in the Borderlands means knowing
that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
that mexicanas call you rajetas,
that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;
From Gloria Anzaldúa (1987), Borderlands-La Frontera. The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987), pp. 194-195. india: Indian, indigenous woman; rajetas: split, neither here nor there
Encountering Bilingual Identity in Rural Mexico.
Turning away from the mountain view, I walked into the school to being assisting freshmen and sophomores in improving their English. That first day, I was surprised to meet quite a few that had been born in the States. Now teenagers, they spoke English more comfortably than their peers, recalling early years in Los Angeles city schools, and their favorite American foods and primetime TV. Many hoped to return to the U.S. to pursue their college education, as childhoods across the border had left them feeling more American at times than Mexican.