Essay on The Write Way to Fight for Social Change

Submitted By sheilaruby329
Words: 2861
Pages: 12

CCS 105F Winter 2014
Sandra Ruiz
The Write Way to Fight for Social Change
At the turn of the 20th to the 21st century, Chicana and Latina authors really made a move for social change through their texts. The term Chicana typically refers to Mexican women who were born and/or raised in the United States. Their literary works, whether it was directly or indirectly, addressed issues such as those of citizenship, education, and most of all sexuality. Three texts that offer a lot to talk about on these topics are Josefina López’s Real Women Have Curves: A Comedy, Demetria Martínez’s Mother Tongue, and Esmeralda Santiago’s When I Was Puerto Rican. By writing about discrimination and issues faced by many Latinos, especially/ Latinas, these authors remind the reader that writing is not a passive activity; it is meant to instill anger, passion, and a demand for action. I will argue that by exemplifying the discrimination faced by undocumented people, demonstrating the different experiences with education that Latinas/os have and emphasizing the effects of patriarchy in the lives of Latinas, these women authors reinforce social change by pushing the reader to look at immigrants in a new positive light, encourage women to follow their dreams and get an education, and most of all, inspire women of all kind to be strong and independent. One of the many reasons Latina/os face difficulties or discrimination is because of their citizenship status. Aside from having to live with the constant fear of being deported, many undocumented people are taken advantage of in the workplace. For example, in Real Women Have Curves, Estela, who is undocumented, is only paid $13 for each dress she makes at her sewing factory, but those same dresses are sold at Bloomingdales for about $200 each (López 22). These women are being exploited and sadly Estela cannot do much about it because she fears if she speaks up she might get ‘la migra’ called on her. It is evident that Estela’s boss takes advantage of this because when Estela calls to ask for an advance check, the boss asks for her proof of employment, and threatens that if la migra shuts them down, she will not pay them for all their work (López 42). At this point it may be obvious to the boss that Estela is undocumented since she avoids showing proof, and therefore uses that to her advantage to avoid giving the advance. Estela has almost no voice because of her citizenship status, and is forced to continue to be exploited along with the rest of the women in her shop, some who are legal residents. Another character who deals with similar issues as Estela for being undocumented or being “brown”, is Jose Luis Romero in Mother Tongue. Just like Estela’s voice was not really heard, Jose Luis’s account of why he fled El Salvador, is made out to seem non valid. In the newspaper article of his interview, it says things like “so-called” death squads, Romero “alleged” and Romero “claimed” (Martínez 34). Maria points out that if he had been White, it would clearly state “Romero said” which sounds much more truthful and valid. Although it may not seem like a big deal, it is little things like this that make undocumented people feel inferior to Whites; it makes them feel like their voice is not as important. One of the biggest misconceptions many people have of undocumented people is that they are “taking jobs away” from citizens. As Negi’s mother states in When I Was Puerto Rican, the American blacks did not like the Puerto Ricans because they felt they were taking their jobs away. “There’s enough work in the Unites States for everybody, but some people think some work is beneath them. Me, if I have to crawl on all fours to earn a living, I’ll do it” (Santiago 225). Although Puerto Ricans were considered legal citizens, many Americans did not accept them and therefore mistreated them. The idea of “crawling on all fours” may seem a little exaggerated, but in reality many undocumented people