Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Signifier: Breaking Down Borders

Recently, my sister asked me if Loyola was in a good part of Baltimore or a bad part. Before I answered, I had to stop and actually think about what I was going to say to her. Whenever people ask me about Loyola and its location, I always tell them it is in a nice, residential area, but if you walk down the street about a mile, you'll end up in a not so nice area. But why is this? Why must I confine Loyola with a border that separates the "good" area from the "bad" area? So when my sister asked me, I gave her my standard response, but wondered how this border within our "community" came to be, how it was erected, and how it has effected the mentality of its inhabitants.
"But the skin of the earth is seamless" (25). In one of the poems that is intertwined with narrative text, Gloria Anzaldua highlights the irony of the concept of borders and uses Borderlands/La Frontera to question the boundaries and borders that have been put up geographically, culturally, religiously, and sexually. "Borders," as Anzaldua describes are "set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them" (25). Throughout the first half of the text, Anzaldua reveals to the reader different borders or barriers, but presents them in a way where she breaks through the borders creating one unified entity.
Much like the U.S.-Mexican border that separates the Anglo culture from the Mexican culture, Anzaldua creates a border within the text that separates the English text from the Spanish text. This technique disorients the reader at first because if the reader is not bi-lingual, like myself, half of what Anzaldua is saying is lost, unless they go translate each word and each sentence. At the same time it disorients, this technique also orients the reader. The intertwining of the Spanish with English in a sense breaks down the barrier between the two worlds because Anzaldua is part of both worlds, and for her, there is no separation. She is not two different people, she is one unified person just like the North American continent is one unified piece of land, except now, it is separated with human borders.
By combining the two languages as well as the different genres of writing, Anzaldua is making the point that she will not be held captive by the superficial borders that have been put in place to separate humanity, gender, and culture. After reading this first half of the text, I realized that we as humans are constantly putting up borders and boundaries to as a form of protection, but in many aspect those borders foster danger and hatred. The invisible border that has been erected between Loyola and the surrounding neighborhoods has created a divide among fellow human beings, hindering the growth of its individuals. Borderlands/La Frontera challenges not only the borders between U.S and Mexico, but also the borders we set up between us as individuals and the world.

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