Gloria Anzaldua is a Mexican woman who faced troubles growing up because she spoke Chicano and had trouble learning English bdue to her native tongue. She faced quandaries as a child because she had trouble grasping English and spoke with a Hispanic accent. She explains that “At Pan American University, I and all Chicano students were required to take two speech classes. Their purpose: to get rid of our accents. Attacks on one’s form of expression with the intent to censor are a violation of the First Amendment. El Anglo con cara de inocente nos arranco la lengua. Wild tongues cant be tamed, they can only be cut out” (Anzaldua 42).
She describes her problems with the rules of the university and how they are trying to remove something that is a part of the Hispanic’s culture. When reading this passage, it is evident that Anzaldua feels strongly about her Hispanic background and doesn’t concur with the ideology of the university and their attempts to rid students of their accents. I also construe, through reading the passage, that even though many natives don’t approve of her Chicano way of speaking, she is pleased with her heritage and culture and doesn’t concern herself with others opinions.
When analyzing the first sentence, I first look at the name “Pan American University. ” When I see this name, I think of a university that has a variety of majors due to their diverse culture. From reading an article from the U. S. census bureau, they estimated the number of Hispanics in Texas to be around 9. 1 million people. This data sustains the idea that Pan American University is a very culturally diverse university. It is very degrading for a Hispanic person to be required to learn another language to fit into the community.
I find it very ironic that as Pan American University prides itself on its diversity, they still do require their students to take these speech classes. Multicultural by the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is “of, relating to, reflecting, or adapted to diverse cultures. ” Making people learn different languages and forcing them to be bilingual to fit into to modern day society is not multicultural at all. It is in fact, the opposite. The word Pan America means stretching from North American to South America. This includes all civilizations, ethnicities, and ways of life in between those two borders.
So between the name and the way they treat their students, there are very different suggestions of what their university policy should really be. In my opinion, they should not keep the name if their ideology is going to be so much diverse. In the second sentence, when she talks about the university getting rid of the Chicano’s accents, she seems a little hostile towards that idea, as she should be. An accent is what demonstrates your culture, your personality, it’s what makes you, you! You can tell where people are from, where they have been, and how educated they are. The Irish have a very distinct accent that separates them from the world.
They are the only people in the world that sound like that because in their country, it is how everyone sounds. Even in America, there are different accents depending on where you are. The dialect used in the areas also changes as you move from region to region. There all sorts of accents from northern, to southern, to western. Accents are connected to your culture so trying to get rid of them is practically trying to rid someone of their heritage. Many people are proud of where they came from and how they got here, so trying to get rid of somebody’s past is just erroneous.
In the third sentence, Anzaldua talks with reference to the First Amendment and the attacks on one’s from of expression. The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ” As I have previously stated, dialect and accents are part of your heritage, and religion falls under heritage. It is a right to be able to worship whomever or whatever you like.
If congress is not able to pass a law creating a national religion, why should Pan American University be able to? Nations have fought battles over religion for many centuries, and America is supposed to be a place where you are able to worship freely. That is what makes this nation so great. Anzaldua inserts a Spanish sentence that translates to “The Anglo-faced innocent, freed us from the language. ” This is showing her disapproval of how the university is controlling their students and driving them to get rid of their accents. In the last sentence, she discusses her ideology of wild tongues and how you cannot tame them, only cut them out.
She uses the binary terms wild and tamed in a very sneaky way. Many people have not heard of “taming” their tongue and find it to be a confusing suggestion. Taming a tongue means to train you tongue so you do not have a certain sound come out when it is not meant to be there. Many people with lisps have to train their tongues so they do not have the lisp anymore. When you are trying to learn a new language, like Spanish, you must also train you tongue to produce the desired tone or sound that is expected. Sometimes in these languages, if you cannot tame your tongue, you will end up saying something completely incorrect and look like an idiot.
For example, in my Spanish class my freshmen year of high school, I was trying to say mom, which is mama. I didn’t put a sufficient amount of emphasis on the last “a” and ended up saying mama, which, in Spanish, means breast milk. Rest assured I felt like the most insignificant student that day. When she mentions having to cut out a tongue because you are not able to tame them, it could mean various different things. I believe she is referencing the border between Mexico and Texas when she is describing cutting out the tongue. America has been trying to keep illegal aliens out of its great nation but has failed millions of times.
From 2005-2008 there was approximately 1. 5 million illegal immigrants entering the United States, which averages out to around 500,000 illegal immigrants a year. In a way though, Pan American University acts as a contact zone between the Chicano culture and the American culture. The Chicano students are able to develop their skills to becoming an American while the teachers are able to experience the culture of the Chicanos. In these contact zones, people become more acquainted with the diversity of others cultures. When I was a child, I was introduced to a contact zone.
I live in Nicaragua for three years and then moved to Ecuador where I would spend the next two years of my life. So, in a way, I have experienced the other side of Anzaldua’s situation. I was a foreigner in both of those countries due to my father’s jobs and everything was different. For one, there was a lot of poverty so education was a big priority there. Another is that when you walked down the street and couldn’t speak the native’s language, they wouldn’t judge you and tell you to go back to your own country, instead they would try to figure out a way to communicate with you and help you out.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were so very mean people there because, like every country, there are bad people and there are good people. This attempt at communicating with each other, in my opinion, was the greatest example in my life of a contact zone. It was bringing together different cultures and communication tools to try and understand what one-another was saying. We need to make an effort at trying to communicate with foreigners that can’t speak English as well as some of us, and help them understand our language and culture.
Who are we to say what language is native to this country anyways? Unless you are Native American, you are technically a foreigner. The Native Americans were here long before Columbus stepped foot on America and claimed it English territory. The Native Americans actually taught us some of their culture, in ways of hunting, shelter, and gathering. These techniques have been passed on from generation to generation. They were the true Americans, yet we still treated them appallingly.
We apparently have a habit of trying to change other’s culture to suit our living needs, which is just a terrible way of creating a contact zone. Anzaldua has the right idea when she describes her era at Pan American University, they were trying to change her culture and tame her tongue. The only way to tame a tongue is to cut it out, and I say this because you are not able to help who you are or where you come from. You cant change who you are or blame your family for who you have become. You only do one of two things, dread your heritage, or do as Anzaldua does and accept who you are and love yourself for it.