To Live in the Borderlands Means You | Poetry

Mexican poetess and civil rights activist Gloria E. Anzaldúa (1942-2004) has emphasized the problems faced by the individuals living in a multicultural society, and particularly at the cross borderlands of a state or country. The author has indirectly alluded to the prevailing ethno-racial and linguistic discriminations in multicultural social establishments, as the people belonging to divergent linguistic and ethnic groups maintain bias and prejudice. Since the prejudiced behavior observed by the majority racial group creates intricacies and inflicts agony on the communities in minority, the minority groups should learn to lead a life where there are neither barriers nor borders the narrow-minded extremists create. Hence, Anzaldúa vehemently condemns the exploitation of the weak and hapless at the hands of the strong on the one hand, and discriminative behavior of the majority population towards the minorities on the other.

The poem begins with a powerful argument, depicting the position of the inhabitants of borderlines, who experience a pathetic state of affairs due to the bitter reality that they become the target of hatred of both the sides between them they are living. Since neither of the state or community appears to be adopting and patronizing them as part of their culture and civilization, and both the sides demonstrate their alienation towards the people living at the borderline. Hence, the inhabitants of borderline are refused to be adopted as the members of any of the communities altogether. It certainly creates a perturbed state of affairs for these individuals, which have to make hard efforts in order to ensure their survival and progress under the unpleasant and untoward situation of estrangement they experience from all corners. Consequently, they are alien even in their homeland and are unable to affiliate them with any mainstream group or community (Lines 1-9). Hence, the first lines created by the poetess immediately fascinate the attention of the readers and force them to explore further stanzas by going through each and every word of the poem.

The biracial and bicultural citizens, according to the author, strive to get absorbed in the mainstream culture by adopting its norms, values, customs, and traditions; during the course of which they also break ties with their original cultural traits and ethno-racial background. Nevertheless, the majority population does not appear to be benevolent enough to declare them as part of their community. Consequently, they are neither Indians, nor Hispanic, nor black, nor Anglo or some specific group anymore. (Lines 8-11) Thus, they are still in search of their identity after spending even five centuries in some particular region. It is, therefore, Anzaldúa calls them half- male and half-female, which have to make a struggle to ensure and realize others about their true individuality and characteristics.

The poem also carries Marxist and feminist perspectives in its scope, where the exploitation of the poor and downtrodden at the hands of the prosperous and powerful could be the major reason behind the ethno-racial hatred and gender discrimination as well. The term “gabacha” particularly points out the Anglo Saxon woman, which is deprived of the basic rights because of the exploitation of females by the male-dominant societies at large. The weak and downtrodden are, in the author’s eyes, stranger and alien at their homes and motherlands, where they are being crushed and rolled out under the chariot wheels of prejudice and discrimination.
The thesis established by the poetess in the first lines carries on till the last stanza of her poem. In the initial stanza, she draws out the state of estrangement the borderline residents undergo, and the same ray of sorrow and grief could be discovered in every stanza till the closing stage that the biracial and bicultural citizens are not owned by either of the races and cultures. As a result, they would have to face the same perturbed and agonized situation for the future years to come. Hence, the poetess has, with the help of her thought-provoking imagination and outstanding intelligence, elaborated a serious issue which is related to a large number of the people living as a minority ethnic-racial group. Anzaldúa has also portrayed the miserable plight of the delicate sex, as women also remain alien and submissive in almost all societies of the globe, which are presumably male-oriented ones in nature and scope.

 

Work Cited
Anzaldúa, Gloria. “To live in the Borderlands means you” Web. manjioca.wordpress.com

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