September 26, 2017
Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s 75th Birthday
For writer and scholar Gloria E. Anzaldúa, a border wasn't just a line on a map: it was a state of mind and a viewpoint on life. Born on this date in 1942 in the Rio Grande Valley, Anzaldúa possessed an astounding gift for transforming dividing lines into unifying visions.
Growing up on ranches and farms in Texas-Mexico border towns, Anzaldúa developed a profound appreciation for the earth and its riches. She fell in love with art and writing as a way to capture the magic of the landscape around her. She also faced racism and isolation, but that didn't stop her from becoming a stellar scholar. After graduating from Pan American University in 1969, Anzaldúa taught migrant students, traveling with them to serve as a liaison with school boards.
She realized early on that she lived in many worlds at once: she was both American and Mexican, both native and foreigner. "It's not a comfortable territory to live in, this place of contradictions," Anzaldúa noted. She understood that the way forward was not to choose a side, but to embrace a third place — a land of both, not either/or.
Anzaldúa mapped this new frontier with her pen. Her most famous work, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, alternates between English and Spanish and includes a variety of forms — from poem to prose, from critique to confessional. This striking mix of voices and perspectives earned Borderlands a place on Literary Journal's list of best books of 1987.
In 1977, she moved to California, where her writing soon became known in academic circles. Her theories had impact across disciplines, including Chicano/a Studies, Women's Studies, LGBT Studies, and Postcolonial Studies. She was awarded a posthumous Ph.D. in literature by the University of California Santa Cruz.
Today's Doodle celebrates Anzaldúa's ability to live across borders, whether geographical, social, or philosophical. She put it best: "To survive the Borderlands / you must live sin fronteras / be a crossroads."