Her autobiographical essay, “La Prieta,” was published in (mostly) English in This Bridge Called My Back, and in (mostly) Spanish in Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos. In her writing, Anzaldúa uses a unique blend of eight dialects, two variations of English and six of Spanish.
In many ways, by writing in “Spanglish,” Anzaldúa creates a daunting task for the non-bilingual reader to decipher the full meaning of the text. However, there is irony in the mainstream reader’s feeling of frustration and irritation.
These are the very emotions Anzaldúa dealt with throughout her life, as she struggled to communicate in a country where she felt as a non-English speaker she was shunned and punished. Language, clearly one of the borders Anzaldúa addressed, is an essential feature to her writing.
One of her major contributions was her introduction to United States academic audiences of the term mestizaje, meaning a state of being beyond binary (“either-or”) conception, into academic writing and discussion. In her theoretical works, Anzaldúa called for a “new mestiza,” which she described as an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these “new angles of vision” to challenge binary thinking in the Western world.
She points out that having to identify as a certain, labelled, sex can be detrimental to one’s creativity as well as how seriously people take you as a producer of consumable goods. The “new mestiza” way of thinking is illustrated in Anzaldúa’s brand of postcolonial feminism.
From La Prieta:
“I am a wind-swayed bridge, a crossroads inhabited by whirlwinds … You say my name is ambivalence? Think of me as Shiva, a many-armed and legged body with one foot on brown soil, one on white, one in straight society, one in the gay world, the man’s world, the women’s, one limb in the literary world, another in the working class, the socialist, and the occult worlds. A sort of spider woman hanging by one thin strand of web. Who, me confused? Ambivalent? Not so. Only your labels split me.”
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