Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm Having Another Damn Identity Crisis

Tonight on twitter I was having an emotional outburst about filling out the census. I feel frustrated that I can't mark off "Latina" and that I have to mark White, American Indian, or other. What the hell?

I mentioned this on twitter and a few people mentioned that I should just mark White and American Indian, or just write in Other.  It's a tad bit offensive to me for me to mark other, because I am not an other. And I am not White, necessarily. Nor am I American Indian.

It's frustrating to me that Latina/os are the majority and are one day projected to be a majority in many states, yet I have to write Other to describe who I am?

It reminds me of when in California at one point they used to segregate Latina/os and labeled them as "Indian", because it was legal to segregate Indians. And then when they weren't allowed to segregate us anymore, they labeled us as White, so that they could put all of us over in a segregated school and not get busted for it because we are all technically white. You know?

This is the same old identity crisis that keeps rearing its ugly head. A while back, I blogged about it and discussed in Language, Culture and Feminism.  It's frustrating to feel that sometimes you don't belong and that you are invisible.

I've always felt this sense of invisibility and the frustration is beginning to grow unbearable for me. My whole life I have looked for representations of myself in popular culture, literature and other places and I often fail to see anything that represents my experience. In college, I gravitated towards feminist studies, and I would often see representations of white women (not that there is anything wrong with that--love them, too), and also sometimes black women. But we never studied latina feminists.

One of the few latina/chicana feminists that someone MIGHT slip into the college curriculum was Gloria Anzaldua, and I devoured her Borderlands book over and over and over again. She was such a unique blend of radical latina feminist and lesbian that she was one of a kind. But who has taken her place since she has passed away?

Maybe I have been out of college for a while now, so maybe some of you in college can step up to the plate and let me know if any bad ass latina feminists have entered the scene.

Because I'm dying here wanting so desperately to find a representation of myself in something. And the hypersexualized representation of Sophia Vergara on Modern Family sure isn't helping my mood.


Anonymous said...

I think a lot of it was constructed as a means to assimilate better. As time passed and The need to self-identify came about and the die had been cast.

I get the impression that many Latinos want it both ways. They want to Be culturally Latino but racially white. I definitely understand your frustration and I encourage you to coalesce with your people and come to some consensus about the need to make Latino a racial designation.

Know that you have my support.

Admin said...

I have never known any latino who wanted to be labeled as culturally white! We are forced into it. It even said "caucasian" in spanish on my parents' birth certificates.

I once read that the historical situation in the US was that if you had one drop of another race, you were labeled as that race. In Mexico I read that after colonization, that if you had one drop of Spanish/white, you were white and not Indian, etc.

So I basically feel that it has been forced on us and reeks of colonization.

Coatlicue Fatale said...

First and foremost I want to agree with your statement about Gloria Anzaldua she was an amazing and intelligent mujer. There are also a lot of amazing Chicana feminist writers that are contemporaries of Anzaldua but that still continue writing:

Deena Gonzalez
Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Antonia Castaneda
Emma Perez
Chela Sandoval
Karla Trujillo

Here are the names of more contemporary Chicanas
Maylei Blackwell
Alma Lopez
Linda Heidenreich
Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz
Yvette Saavedra*

*she was a professor of mine in undergrad shes finishing up her dissertation but someone to definitely look for in the future and any work.

I hope that this list was of some help I would also recommend picking up the anthology that Anzaldua created call "This Bridge We Call Home" because it is she has a lot of Chicana writers and it might give you some more names of other mujeres to check out.
feel free to email me if you have any questions about these mujeres or anything

Admin said...

Gracias, mujer, you are a life saver!!!