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Azaldua and Lorde on Identity

            Who am I? The age-old question we seem to ask ourselves at least once in our lives. "The Fourth of July" by Gloria Anzaldua and "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" by Audre Lorde, are both autobiographical essays written by immigrant women living in America who try to grapple with the challenge of identity. Both authors endure similar inner conflicts that deal with the effects of racism on identity, and its influence on assimilation. Anzaldua's "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" discusses the cultural and social difficulties an immigrant faces when living in America. However, she emphasizes the discrimination she has endured for speaking in her mother tongue "Chicano" Spanish. She describes these attacks as "linguistic terrorism" (Anzaldua, 38) for being violent and intentionally deleterious to her self-esteem. She is alienated by other Latinas and Latinos when speaking in Chicano Spanish and is called a "cultural traitor" because Chicano is a "mutilation of Spanish" (Anzaldua, 35). Anzaldua has been physically punished by teachers and discriminated from society solely because "Chicano Spanish" is not considered a legitimate language. .
             Furthermore, Anzaldua discusses the close link between language and identity. This vicious cycle of discrimination has left her with a weak sense of self: "Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex-Mex, and all the other languages I speak, I cannot accept the legitimacy of myself." (Anzaldua, 39) Throughout the essay, Anzaldua uses a mixture of both English and Spanish. Chicano Spanish sprung from the need for immigrants to identify themselves and confirms that Anzaldua is in a liminal position; she feels neither American nor Mexican. From this, we can conclude, that if Anzaldua felt solely American or Mexican she would have assimilated to the either culture and fully adopted the language.

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