Friday, September 25, 2009
The New Mestiza
According to the OED "mestizo/mestiza" is a person of mixed origin; originally a man with a Spanish father and an American Indian mother. Throughout chapter seven Anzaldua claims an indigenous background and cultural connections to that past. I particularly liked Anthony's reference to the caste system established by the Europeans during their conquest of the new world. I feel that Anzaldua sees definite similarities between the first conquest of America and the assimilation she suffered in her life as a chicana in the United States. What Anzaldua is doing is redefining the term mestiza as a source of empowerment instead of discrimination.
"Indigenous like corn, like corn, the mestiza is a product of crossbreeding, designed for preservation under a variety of conditions. Like an ear of corn-a female seed-bearing organ-the mestiza is tenacious, tightly wrapped in the husks of her culture. Like kernels she clings to the cob; with thick stalks and strong brace roots, she holds tight to the earth-she will survive the crossroads."
It is interesting that in reclaiming the term mestiza identifies with a living being that Natives of the region used for centuries for survival. She sees the durability of corn in her own ability to handle oppressive cultures. By "clinging to the earth" she can survive. By staying close to her culture, the universal culture of being a woman/poet/lesbian/chicana, she survives pressures that normally would not stand up to the tears between so many cultures. I think here i can agree that she breaks the "ethnic" terms of mestiza and claims a "cultural" one.