The Tongue Essay

999 WordsApr 22, 20094 Pages
I knew after reading the first few paragraphs of Anzaldua’s“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” (1987) that she was going to have a lot to say. In this passage Anzaldua expresses the challenges she faced growing up in America as a Chicano. She gives a brief breakdown of who she is, where she comes from and which languages she prefers to speak. Her argument starts off explaining how she was made to be ashamed of existing. She then walks us through how she overcame the tradition of silence. Inspired by Mexican movies since her childhood, it was the shock of reading a published Chicano novel that gave her the strength to bite back. She wrote” When I saw poetry written in Tex-Mex for the first time, a feeling of pure joy flashed through me. I felt like we really existed as people” (pg47). As a child she was told by the dentist that he had never seen anything as strong and stubborn as her tongue. It would push out wads of cotton, drills and needles. It was her tongue that would get her three licks on the knuckles at recess if she was caught speaking Spanish in school. She writes” I remember being sent to the corner of the classroom for “talking back” to the Anglo teacher when all I was trying to do was tell her how to pronounce my name.”If you want to be American, speak American. If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong” (pg42). Chicanos were made to feel like there language wasn’t legit. They would feel very uncomfortable talking Spanish to a Latino because of the criticism. Often at gatherings the Mexicans and Latinas would just speak English as a neutral language. Even Chicanos judge other Chicanos, as if one is better or different than the next. Anzaldua writes” We oppress each other trying to out-Chicano each other, vying to be the “real” Chicanas, to speak like Chicanos. There is no one Chicano language as there is no one Chicano experience” (pg46). As

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