7 Lessons Gloria Anzaldúa’s ‘Borderlands’ Taught Us!

In August 1987, Chicana feminist Gloria Anzaldúa gifted Latinas with Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza‎, an autobiographical book with essays and poems that spoke directly to our intersecting, and sometimes clashing, identities and distinct lived experiences. This month, on its 27th anniversary, Borderlands can still teach Latinas some critical lessons. Take a look:

#1: Being a Latina means growing up between two cultures.

While not all Latinas are Chicanas, most of us will understand what it’s like to live on the border of two cultures -- the Latin American one, with its Indian and African influences, and the US one, with its Anglo traditions and social norms. This place of contradictions is not always comfortable; but, for Latinas, it is home. 

#2: Latinas aren’t just virgins, putas and wailing mujeres

Through stories of La Virgen de La Guadalupe, La Malinche and La Llorona, society places Latinas in three limiting roles: “untainted,” chaste women, putas and moaning ladies. But the truth is that in us we can find all of these women and more. 

#3: We all have an inner goddess, and her name is Coatlalopeuh.

After being driven underground by a male-dominated Azteca-Mexica culture to then be desexed and made evil by Spaniards, Anzaldúa lifts the Mexican indigenous goddess Coatlalopeuh back up, reclaiming the empowering woman “who dominates the serpents.”

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