My Struggles Of Writing the Border
Gloria Anzaldúa defines the border as a unique place where “two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper-class touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy”. (Anzaldúa 27) Throughout this semester, I have been pushed to analyze the border on a variety of levels, as well as borders from the past, present, and future. Gloria Anzladúa wrote of how trends from her past still affect her today, Charles Eady and Edward Said responded to current cultural situations, and Mary Louis Pratt pushed us to consider the “contact zones” we may encounter in the future. However, the border has proven to be a more challenging topic than I originally anticipated. Although I faced several bumps in the road during my journey through this semester, my main struggle has been my ability to relate to the situations at hand. However, toward the end of this semester, I had a realization that greatly assisted me in my struggles: reading and writing the border is not cut-and-dry. There is a distinct and involved process that includes developing my own identity, meticulously choosing my vocabulary, and methodically connecting to my audience. The border is an interesting place of clashing, conflicts, and inspiration and should be approached with a strong awareness.
Understanding my own identity was essential to my formation of any powerful statement, because our identities are the sources of what we believe in. In Edward Said’s words, our identity is “who we are, where we come from, what we are”. (Said, 574) In my case, I am a nineteen-ear-old college freshman, and typically agree with conservative and Christian ideals. However, it is equally important to recognize that our identity is continually changing. Not only do we encounter new experience each day, and we often get closer to understanding our roots. As it says in the introduction to Ways of Reading, we do not have to answer all of the questions before they arise. Both of these factors hold a significant effect on our voice and writing. Although maintaining our own opinion seems easy enough, Anzaldúa noted that we often take them for granted. Sometimes we, as writers, can get consumed by the opinions of others, and abandon our own. Said continues by defining our identities as “frightened to little islands”, yet our identity is significant to developing ourselves as writers. (Said, 578) His visual language really makes this claim stand out in our minds, and I believe it pushes us to let our opinions come through in our writing.
In fact, Gloria Anzaldúa claims that her identity controls her way of writing, almost as if it “has a mind of its own, escaping [her] will”. (Anzaldúa, 28) She continues by calling it a “crazy dance.” Anzaldúa is well known for how she fought against the silence of personal opinions, and would be ashamed if she saw anyone handle their opinion so thoughtlessly. I agree with Anzaldúa with her idea that it is imperative to be aware of your own beliefs when attempting to discuss complex subjects, such as the “transculturation” and “contact zones” and “borders”.
Choosing vocabulary prudently is the second step in relating to the subject at hand. Throughout the semester, I was often corrected for my extreme word choices and statements, which included words such as “always”, “extremely”, and “definitely”. This poor technique clearly contributes to a weak argument, because I am not pinpointing the precise thought I want to get across to my readers. I did not realize, however, was that this created even more distance between my ideas and the subject at hand. By improving my vocabulary, I will be able to find myself closer to a discussion of the border, because without these general statements my argument is more precise. This improvement in vocabulary does