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On the 25th Anniversary of one of the most influential texts that I've stumbled across, as a woman, as a feminist, as the mother of a mestizo child, as a full-throated occupier of la frontera/the frontier, the borderlands, the wild space of hybridity where I become myself more deeply and through more cultural spaces, in resistance to imperialism and in celebration of a free world, it is in this moment when Gloria Anzaldua's landmark text Borderlands/La Frontera is imperiled.

This is unthinkable!

First, a little background and explanation about this book. Then I will briefly touch on Gloria Anzaldua herself. Finally, I will share a few personal thoughts about the incredible relevance of her work, especially during a time of such high political stakes.

Aunt Lute Nonprofit Press, who publish Gloria Anzaldua, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde is a 501C nonprofit small press, and they dearly need your help to reissue this work which transcends categorization, blending poetry, politics, and self-identity.

Their goal is to raise $10,000 to ensure that it's republished.

To help, please click HERE and donate in any amount, even $1.

And please pass this along to others whom you feel might be interested in preserving this exceptionally potent cultural artifact which serves as a true microcosm for our time.

In a moment when women, the LGBT community, and people of color are under political compression and still struggling for full acknowledgement, when independent book publishers struggle due to Big Box stores and mega-corporations proliferating like weeds, and when disturbingly little value is seen in the Humanities or in Universities due to the corporatist, anti-human turn in education, WE MUST BE ACTIVE in ensuring that these politically contested spaces, spaces which we have spent decades fighting for, do not go ignored!

Borderlands/La Frontera has been deemed 1 of the 100 most important (Feminist) books of the Century.

From the University of Minnesota's Voices from the Gaps:

Gloria Anzaldua, a self-described "chicana dyke-feminist, tejana patlache poet, writer, and cultural theorist," was born to sharecropper/field-worker parents on September 26th, 1942 in South Texas Rio Grande Valley...

...In 1969, Anzaldua received her B.A. in English, Art, and Secondary Education from Pan American University. She then earned an M.A. in English and Education from the University of Texas. As a teacher, Anzalda instructed a wide variety of students. She first taught in a bilingual preschool program, then in a Special Education program for mentally and emotionally handicapped students. Later, she worked to educate college students about feminism, Chicano studies, and creative writing at a number of universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, Vermont College of Norwich University, and San Francisco State University. Anzaldua died of diabetes complications on May 15, 2004...

...During her lifetime, Anzaldua won numerous awards for her work, such as the Lambda Lesbian Small Book Press Award for Haciendo Cara, an NEA Fiction Award, the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for This Bridge Called My Back, and the Sappho Award of Distinction. In addition, her text Borderlands/La Frontera was selected by the Literary Journal as one of the 38 Best Books of 1987...

Borderlands/La Frontera examines the condition of women in Chicano and Latino culture, Chicanos in white American society, and lesbians in the straight world. Through a combination of history and personal narrative, Anzaldua allows the reader both a close-up and distanced view into a life of alienation and isolation as a prisoner in the borderlands between cultures...

...Through the use of beautifully poetic wording, Anzaldua effectively takes the reader into her world of estrangement from every culture she could possibly "belong" to. Borderlands/La Frontera is a reality check to all readers, of every race, on cultural barriers and introspection to find one's true identity. Most of all, Anzaldua insists that while these borders are abstract, they should never be implemented into the soul.

I couldn't agree more. All readers benefit deeply from this fantastic inquiry into their very being. I have personally seen this time and again, that readers who participate in Anzaldua's journey find themselves richer, clearer, and more beautifully complicated by themselves and their departures from the tidiness of a mythologically "same" America which exists only for the most privileged few. This is a voyage I undertake yearly with others for this reason, simply bringing them to this text to experience the way it queers their self-understanding.

Thus every year, I join teachers in introducing students to the centrifuge of where language, meaning, culture, and identity are formed indivisibly from one another through Anzaldua's groundbreaking essay, "How to Tame a Wild Tongue." In teaching students about their own wild tongues, I hope to convince them to never, in fact, tame their own voices or identities but instead to celebrate their complexities, to learn about using the rhetorical force of speaking from the margins. Together, we realize that we are unable to be homogenized by some totalizing ideal of "One America" reverberating through one tin note, one thin voice. Yes, you know that song all too well, the sound of a wealthy, white-only, male-only, flat, conservative, hetero-normative, bounded, and ultimately ungenerous Nation which has tried to maintain a stranglehold over its populace by subjugating our hearts, our minds, and our liberty.

We've had our wings clipped too many times.

We've been told by those in power to never venture outside of their sanctioned spaces.

We've been lied to about what a "normal" and "acceptable" identity is, and we've been disempowered by accepting those limits.

Our voices have been silenced time and again.

Anzaldua speaks to every single person who has ever found themselves outside of the state-sanctioned vision of America as a patriarchal, repressed, suppressed, enchained, straight, and delimited space, a place where your identity itself is in contest and where you are told your place, where you can go and where you cannot go without repercussion. Outside of this America is the danger of the wilderness, the borderlands, the bush, Ellis Island, the space between ordinary suburban homes in Florida where Trayvon Martin walked to buy Skittles and Ice Tea and paid for it with his life.

But perhaps just as importantly, Anzaldua speaks to every single person within that world as well. For my students are not a group of radical Chicana lesbians by any means, and they are not reading "what they already know." They are reading the unfamiliar and the jarring, for my students are by and large whiter, wealthier, oftentimes male, and not infrequently somewhat conservative. Others are simply searching for a toehold in the world and are not yet sure of how to define themselves. We are a representative group of what America looks like in many privileged places. When we read this together, when we experience Anzaldua's poetry, poesy, essays, struggle, and human articulation, we feel it together becoming "new creatures" (to quote the Village Voice). It is one of the single most powerful works we can tackle. I watch the students flourish with an expansiveness and new understanding about how we construct not only ourselves but also one another, with more or less tolerance, with differing degrees of cultural homogenization or enrichment and multiplicity. My students come to understand that to "tame" any wild tongue is nothing less than to staunch Democracy itself and often to do so unconsciously.

We need to preserve the wildness of all of our tongues if we wish to resist that which continues to try to crush us. Please participate with anything you can afford. Time is always running, always running away.

Please donate just a little bit BY CLICKING HERE


To live in the borderlands means to:

put chile in the borscht,
eat whole wheat tortillas,
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints.

Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to:

resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;

In the Borderlands:

you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger...

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no affiliation with any of the things or people mentioned here and am posting solely because this is something I think is deeply important and deserves everyone's time, energy, and a small donation. Everything I say, I say out of love.

Originally posted to ...a teapot in a tempest... on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 02:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by White Privilege Working Group and Community Fundraisers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry about the formating errors (4+ / 0-)

    fixing these, hang on... hit "publish" too soon! :)

  •  This book should (10+ / 0-)

    be essential reading for all Americans.  Just sayin'...  It is unthinkable that it is risk of not being republished.

    I vote Democratic because I am a woman with self-respect , who rejects bigotry of all kinds, subscribes to science, believes in universal health care, embraces unions, and endorses smart internationalist foreign policy.

    by Delilah on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 03:58:01 PM PDT

  •  No offense... (2+ / 0-)

    ...but I very much doubt this particular book is going to go out of print in my lifetime.  This particular publisher may be struggling, but that doesn't doom the book itself.

    Far, far too many women's studies and ethnic studies courses assign Borderlands/La Frontera as required reading.  As long as that's the case, some publisher will pick it up.

    •  Yes, but it's still very important (6+ / 0-)

      to try to support this publisher since they have done so much for both women's and ethnic studies, as well as LGBT studies. I would hate to see it picked up by some generic publisher trying to simply turn a profit when it can be maintained by a nonprofit press without the same kind of vested financial interest in it. At any rate, I'd seen this story really make the rounds amongst academic listserv's that I'm on: I'm definitely not the only one I know who is concerned in the least.

      •  Never heard of them before. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilovecheese

        And I've been in the field for a very long time.

        I'd be surprised if Alyson Books or Four Walls/Eight Windows doesn't pick it up.

        A publisher that has to go hat-in-hand begging for donations is not long for this world.

        •  So you support small press (4+ / 0-)

          given that you're in publishing? I'm unclear what your opposition is to trying to ensure that they are able to continue to publish Anzaldua's work? Why would anyone want them to stop being able to do that after twenty-five years of their publishing her work?

          They are a solid player in the world of multicultural feminist publishers and have won a "Best Small Press Award" in 2006. You can just Wikipedia them or Google them and see this.

          The point which they make on their site about the current state of women's publishers, small press publications, and so on strike me as categorically true.

          In general, I know it's true that many, many academic publishers are struggling, which is why I touched on that in my diary.

          Do you think it's better for another press to simply take over publishing Anzaldua's work? If so, why? I absolutely don't follow your thinking here, sorry, that because someone is unsuccessful after prior success in a niche market involving feminism, LGBT studies, and multicultural studies, that they are somehow not worth supporting. To me, this only makes the very argument which these publishers are making, by and large, about how Capitalism interferes with more marginalized voices to emerge into public spaces.

          •  I'm not in publishing. (0+ / 0-)

            I'm in academia.

            My "opposition" is that a small press (that I've never heard of) that has to beg for handouts is doomed already.

            Clearly, though, I support smaller presses--Alyson Books and Four Walls/Eight Windows are small presses, and neither have had to stoop to begging for handouts to publish an edition of a book that should be flying out of their warehouses.  Alyson's been publishing LGBT books--exclusively--for more than 20 years.

            I'm not sure I'd say they were "successful" in their niche, either.  My PhD exam areas included LGBT studies, my personal library of LGBT books is beyond enormous, and I have never heard of this publishing house before.

            And, this may come as a shock, but I prefer that the book is in print than that a tiny, nearly-unheard of press that can't seem to do business stays alive.  I'd be perfectly fine if Routledge takes over printing Borderlands/La Frontera, because that means the book survives, and the ideas presented in it are far more important than the survival of a press that can't seem to make a profit selling a book that's required reading in virtually every college & university LGBT Studies 101, Women's Studies 101, and Ethnic Studies 101 course (not to mention all the upper-division and graduate seminars the book is taught in).

            •  Well.... (5+ / 0-)
              My "opposition" is that a small press (that I've never heard of) that has to beg for handouts is doomed already.
              I have heard of them, but I also spent 23 years as a book seller. That said, this publisher is non profit. I've never heard of a non profit that didn't ask for donations or sell something to make ends meet.
              •  I had as well.. (5+ / 0-)

                But probably because I own a copy of the book and have cited it! :)

                I am not really following the argument here though to be honest. I think supporting non profit booksellers are a good thing, and particularly those which specialize in multicultural women's studies. As an academic myself, I don't particularly care about how large a press is; I'm very, very used to exceedingly small publishing houses which cater to select markets and which definitely are often carried by only a few books. Many of the finest works, as you would know, are smaller.

                But what really confuses me is that this entire argument came to my attention on an academic listserv and it is being productively backed by others. Maybe it's a 2nd Wave vs. 3rd Wave Feminist thing? Maybe it's a Poststructuralist pique? It's hard to say.

                •  strange arguments between academics (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mahakali overdrive

                  sounds pretty greedy to me. Now donating double, because the conversation about supporting a small book publisher with a donation has imo no place here after a diary so informative. Not being an academic the book is now on my "to buy and read" list.

                  Thanks mahakali overdrive.

                  •  LOL @"greedy" (0+ / 0-)

                    I have no horse in this race.  I just don't think any publisher who has to beg for donations is long for this world, and I'm far more interested in the survival of the book--because it's much, much more important--than the survival of a publishing house that apparently can't keep itself in business.

                    •  The more I read your comments (0+ / 0-)

                      the more I'm amazed at the nastiness of the tone.  Auntie Lute is an historic feminist press, despite the fact that you haven't heard of it.  Transferring the literary assets of feminist presses to big publishers like Routledge is a tragedy, because Routledge doesn't give a damn what it publishes, as long as it sells.   The booklist of a feminist press, however, reflects a long process of selection -- and even shaping -- of the fields in which you claim expertise. Small press publishing is a labor of love, and many of the small presses from which feminist classics were issued are still doing the work of finding fabulous new writers today -- writers Routledge, wouldn't take a chance on.

                      But then, if "business" is your model, all the radical presses are going to seem contemptible to you.

                      All it takes to keep a book alive is to render it in electronic format and upload it.  We don't need to give money to Routledge to do that.  Contrary to your assertion, books can now easily survive.  It's presses that are hurting.  And that's a tragedy because it's the small press editors who are willing to work with unknown writers, on books they don't expect to  be best-sellers , and who facilitate the creation of rich literatures in fields that are marginal... or still waiting to be born. Sure, I buy books to support writers... but I am even more enthusiastic about supporting the presses who I depend on to supply me with writers who aren't cardboard commercial cutouts....

                      "If you fake the funk, your nose will grow." -- Bootsy Collins

                      by hepshiba on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 02:09:49 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  I wound up asking about this train of commentary (0+ / 0-)

                    because I was confused. I asked a few people on the listserv I'm on why it would be opposed. They couldn't think of any reason other than mass support of big box-type Capitalism. Most said the argument didn't make sense to them either!

                    Thank you for donating, Mimi. That's awesome. When I first wrote this, I wasn't even thinking much about the publisher. I was just thinking about the book. However, this conversation has really pushed me to think more about the value of this sort of support as well.

        •  You've never heard of Auntie Lute? (0+ / 0-)

          What field is it you're in?

          It's right up there with Kitchen Table Press.

          Virtually all small press publishers go hat-in-hand, and right now they're the only folks publishing literature that isn't for the mass market.  They're the only publishers of poetry that isn't commercial drivel or the product of high-end Creative Writing MA programs.

          Many of my favorite presses have gone hat-in-hand for 40 years now.

          And, really, what's your point?

          "If you fake the funk, your nose will grow." -- Bootsy Collins

          by hepshiba on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 01:55:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Important book! (4+ / 0-)

    In fact, I was at a presentation Nancy Cott gave at OAH night on feminism and its use of history at the AP US History reading last week in which Gloria Anzaldua was in the slide deck with Angela Davis and Pauli Murray.  She should know!

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 09:56:58 PM PDT

  •  I'm so glad I saw this. (3+ / 0-)

    This is a foundational text in Chicano/a studies, post colonialism and decolonization studies. Hugely important and genuinely ground-breaking.

    I've drawn on Anzaldua's work in my research (transnational culture and lit).

    Perhaps another press, such as A/K, could republish this in a worse case scenario. Nonetheless, support your small press!

    I'll send a donation and tweet this up. Thanks, MO!

    "Space Available" is the largest retail chain in the nation.

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 10:25:31 PM PDT

    •  Hi-ho! Thank you much! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Free Jazz at High Noon

      I didn't know you were researching transnational culture and Lit. We should definitely talk more sometime. And also, I love A/K press. Hands down, one of the greatest small presses (of course, I'm biased because I've had the pleasure of tabling near them for several years as a volunteer at a few different book fairs).

      It is definitely a foundational work, and also, it's so accessible to students for a variety of class types. It's always much loved when I teach it and also much loved to read.

      But again, we shall have to talk more sometime. :)

      •  Would love it, MO. Drop me a line anytime (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive

        via Kosmail. If you caught my diary awhile back, Lefebvre is another one of the theorists I'm working with. My dissertation deals with space, place and region in US West.

        Anzaldua is a really important theorist; I appreciate the heads up on this.

        "Space Available" is the largest retail chain in the nation.

        by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:09:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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