"New Interconnections: Moving from Unity to Solidarity," A Dialogue between Analouise Keating and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Analouise Keating: In "En rapport, In Opposition" you say that you've "come to suspect that unity is another Anglo invention like their one sole god and the myth of the monopole." This essay was first published four years ago. Do you still feel this way?
Gloria E. Anzaldúa: Yes. I especially feel this way when I go to Hispanic Heritage Week events. Once a year in different universities they have Hispanic Heritage Week and their big thing, you know, is "Latinos unidos," "Jamás seran vencidos," and I think, "Why is there such an emphasis on unity? WHat about just plain being in solidarity with each other? What about just maintaining our own separate ethnic groups yet coming together and interacting?" You know — the Chileans, the Mexicanos, the Chicanos, the newly arrivals, the PUerto Ricans. Why does it have to be this Hispanic or this Latinos/Latinas umbrella? Why this thing about unity? After five hundred years we haven't achieved it. The reason we haven't achieved unity is because we're so different — geographically, culturally, and linguistically. So then I thought if we don't achieve unity we're going to have such a sense of failure. Such a sense of "Oh we've been struggling for years and we can't unite, there must be something wrong with Chicanos who can't get it together to present a united front." If you take Chicanos there are differences between the ones in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, the Midwest. Yes, we have a lot in common, but it's a big burden to put on an ethnic group that they should get their shit together and unite. White people aren't united. They may be united under capitalism or some other imposed system. What is it in our mentality — and I say "our" because I've been trained in the western way of thinking — that there has to be some kind of hierarchical order and at the very top there is the one: the one law, the one god, the one universe, the one language, the one absolute? THat absolute may be "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or it could be what the physicists are now searching for, the one general law that everything happening in the universe — biologically, physically and so on — will fall under this one law. And then I look at the U.S. Americanization of the total planet through the media of television and radio (mostly television). There's this whole gathering of peoples' minds on the planet. It's very attractive — anything American from Coca Cola to Levi's. In terms of a capitalist commodity market, a unity through clothes or possessing particular products could be possible, but I don't think it can happen politically, aesthetically, psychologically, or any other ways.
ALK: So you see unity as homogenizing or monolithic?
GEA: Yes. I see it as homogenizing because it's used as the big umbrella where everyone belongs and can take shelter. If you don't achieve it — if you can't get under that umbrella and achieve unity — that umbrella becomes a club used against you. "Why are you as a black or a Latina or an Indian so divisive that you can't achieve any kind of unity with your own people?
ALK: So it just erases differences?
GEA: Sí. This idea implies that we can't live separately yet be connected. But we can! We can live separately, connect, and be together. But I'd rather call it "in solidarity" or "in support of," "en conocimiento," rather than "united." Unity always privileges one voice, one group. En conocimiento ... everybody has their own space and can say their own thing and recognize that here's another group that has their own thing and says their own thing, but there are connections, commonalities as well as differences. And the differences don't get erased and the commonalities don't become all-important; they don't become more important than the differences or vice versa.

If you define writing as any kind of scribble, any kind of trying to mark on the world, then you have the oral, dance, choreography, performance art, architecture. I had a feminist architect help me design this addition to my study. Some of us want to take those marks already inscribed in the world and redo them, either by erasing them or by pulling them apart — which involves deconstructive criticism. Pulling them apart is looking at how they’re composed and the relationship between the frame and the rest of the world. In this country the frame of reference is white, Euro-American. This is its territory, so any mark we make has to be made in relationship to the fact that they occupy the space. You can take any field of disciplinary study, like anthropology: that frame is also Euro-American; it’s western. Composition theory is also very Euro-American. Thus any of us trying to create change have to struggle with this vast, very powerful territory. It’s kind of like a fish in the Pacific Ocean, with the analogy that the Pacific Ocean is the dominant field and the fish is this postcolonial, feminist, queer, or whoever is trying to make changes. Before you can make any changes in composition studies, philosophy, or any other field, you have to have a certain awareness of the territory. You have to be able to maneuver in it before you can say, “Here’s an alternative model for this particular field, for its norms, rules, regulations, and laws.” Especially in composition these rules are very strict: creating a thesis sentence, having some kind of argument, having logical step-by-step progression, using certain methods like contrast or deductive versus inductive thinking. It goes all the way back to Aristotle and Cicero with his seven parts of a composition.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy for anyone like me to make changes or additions to the model; it’s like you’re this little fish going against the Pacific Ocean. You have to weigh the odds of succeeding with your goal. Say my goal is a liberatory goal: to create possibilities for people, to look at things in a different way so that people can act in their daily lives in a different way. It’s a freeing up, an emancipating. It’s a feminist goal. But then I have to weigh things: OK, if I write in this style and I code-switch too much and go into Spanglish too much and do an associative kind of logical progression into a composition, am I going to lose those people I want to affect, to change? Am I going to lose the respect of my peers — other writers, artists, and academicians — when I change too much? When I change not only the style but also the rhetoric? Then I have to look at the young students in high school and elementary school who are going to be my future readers, if my writing survives that long. And I look at the young college students, especially those reading Borderlands: How much of it is a turn-off for them because it’s too hard to access? I have to juggle and balance, make it a little hard for them so that they can stop and think, “You know, this is a text; this is not the same as life; this is a representation of life.” Too often when people read something they take it to be the reality instead of the representation. I don’t want to turn those students off. So how much do you push and how much do you accommodate and be in complicity with the dominant norm of a particular field?

Gloria Anzaldúa, from “Toward a Mestiza Rhetoric: Gloria Anzaldúa on Composition, Postcoloniality, and the Spiritual: an Interview with Andrea Lunsford”  (via commovente)
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"In A Sentimental Mood" by Duke Ellington & John Coltrane

this is the song you listen to when you’re stoney bologna taking a shower in the dark. try it try it try it! try it

The effect of the cultural bomb is to annihilate a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves; for instance, with other peoples’ languages rather than their own. It makes them identify with that which is decadent and reactionary, all those forces that would stop their own springs of life. It even plants serious doubts about the moral righteousness of struggle. Possibilities of triumph or victory are seen as remote, ridiculous dreams. The intended results are despair, despondency and a collective death-wish.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind (via daughterofzami)
I firmly believe in small gestures: pay for their coffee, hold the door for strangers, over tip, smile or try to be kind even when you don’t feel like it, pay compliments, chase the kid’s runaway ball down the sidewalk and throw it back to him, try to be larger than you are— particularly when it’s difficult. People do notice, people appreciate. I appreciate it when it’s done to (for) me. Small gestures can be an effort, or actually go against our grain (“I’m not a big one for paying compliments…”), but the irony is that almost every time you make them, you feel better about yourself. For a moment life suddenly feels lighter, a bit more Gene Kelly dancing in the rain.
— Jonathan Carroll  (via theremina)

(Source: quotethat)

I understand. That’s the trouble. I understand. I’ll understand all the time. All day and all night. Especially all night. I’ll understand. You don’t have to worry about that.
— Ernest Hemingway, Winner Take Nothing  (via thatkindofwoman)

(Source: larmoyante)