Migration across la Frontera
In the beginning my family was but one of many on the dry dusty road. 16 family members were walking from the outskirts of Tijuana, my mother among them, to the wall. The wall ran through the city, and my family stood with everything in the early morning with everything to cross into the new world. The only thing in the way was the iron and steel gates along with the migra (border police)., Wwithin minutes all 16 of my family members crossed the wall. They entered the US, a paradise where my family continues to flourish to this day. The struggles of migration to the US from Mexico comes from many stories and experiences., aAn individual who shared the relative experiences of the journey like my family did is Gloria E. Anazaldua. Gloria an esteemed author had whose small roots that turned into a giant tree to share her story Borderlands /La Frontera of how migration affected the US. The many variables that often connected the migration of my family and the experience of Anazaldua are seen simply to be people running to or from their fears or by wanting to achieve their desires.
A pivotal barrier that separates individuals who migrate to achieve their desires are State borders. An example of this would be the US border. aAs stated by Gloria, “I press my hand to the steel curtain-chain linked fence… from the sea where Tijuana touches San Diego” (Anazaldua 24). Physical barriers prevented Gloria from achieving her goal in finding a place where to live and where she can express herself for who she is. Physical barriers take many shapes as wall or fences;, often they stop an individual from passing a certain point. It is then up to the individual standing before it to make the choice to either cross the barrier or turn back, as it is the choice that all migrants must make in their journeys to achieve their dreams or flee their desires.
As I learned more about migration I came under the assumption that migration does not only deal with physical barriers, but also cultural ones as well. In my younger years as it connects withsimilarly to Gloria’s story, we awere raised to accept our heritage for what it is. However, in the later years as we grow up in a new place other than our home, the struggle to retain one’s heritage is difficult; as stated, “In childhood, we are told our language is wrong” (80). As I grew up in the United States I encountered many cultural barriers, language being one of them but also my manners and the customs I was raised upon. In practicing, native customs, migrants like Gloria and my family were brought to the attention of many and then criticized for not being able to accept the culture of the place in to which we migrated to. Barriers to migration not only prevent us from enacting embarking on the journey of migration but they may in fact be the driving force for it. One may be trying to escape the cultural barriers of one’s home only to flee ones’ fears to a synonymous new home in that represents a different culture.
On the border of the US and Mexico stands a region to bethat is its own separate entity in regards to areas in which migrants pass through. In Gloria’s story, she sees the border cities as something apart from both the US and Mexico;, she states, “the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country- a border country… it is a constant state of transition” (25). These two worlds stated by Anazaldua give migrants a taste of what to expect in an area that is considered home, but a new home. And this leads to a migrant feeling blessed or tainted by other ideals they see in a zone of transition. In this blending Gloria sees the opportunity in the US whereas individuals in the US would end up seeing in Gloria and many migrants just people who are fleeing their fears. Although some see it in just black or white, in regards to migrants achieving desires or fleeing fears, the in reality of these areas of transition with blended cultures are a mix of people in the action of both fleeing their fears and achieving their desires at the same time.
Within my family history in lLinking to the story of Gloria in her struggles in the zone of transitions, my family was to attempting to achieve thier their hopes for the next generation and escaping the hardships of the current. At the time of my family’s move in the mid-20th century, opportunity was present in working in the Ranchero Bracero program in which citizens of Mexico may come to the US for work in the fields. This strenuous work and the difficulty in moving to another country did not faze my family members;, as Gloria states, “The Welfare of the family, the community and tribe is more important than the welfare of the individual” (40). The zone of transition in Mexico did prove an obstacle, but in the face of opportunity and the fears of letting the next generation live amongst the current hardships, my family and other migrants had their reasons for migrating across the border to achieve their goals and escape their hardships regardless of what other barriers may cross paths and challenge individuals to turn back. And as my mother always tells me when I am met with a challenge, “No puedes dejar, neccesitas terminar algo que te empiezaste”.
A cultural barrier that was pivotal in preventing the migration of Gloria to the US was language. Every day people communicate through language, however the struggle in communicating for migrants is that not all the time do they have experience in the host country’s language. In Gloria’s case, language was a cultural barrier as well as a physical one as she states in an experience with a teacher when she was young, “If you want to be American, speak ‘American’, if you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong” (75). Language is not only a physical barrier; in a sense as it can represent be a cultural one as well. In the USUS, it is a common belief that to be American is to abide by Anglo values such as speaking English, however much like Gloria experienced if one speaks another language not only will people not understand what you are communicating, they will not understand “Who you are” or where you come from. Being a cultural barrier, language may prevent people from migrating to a place in regards to being afrom fear of not being accepted, contrasting countering their desires and thus preventing migration from taking place.
Language played a key part in influencing my family’s migration to the United States and my own life as a cultural barrier. Being raised in Mexico, my family only had limited experience outside of Spanish with a series of English speaking classes. Within a short period in a border city they could get by speaking English. My struggles in speaking both English and Spanish were more difficult, being since I was raised to speak Spanish at home, but only speak English to those around me when I am was out of the house. In the recent years whenever I am around my family on a visit to Mexico, my mother says, “Ellos son tu primos, y neccesistas habla y practicar tu espanol con los, porque ellos neccesitan practicar englis contigo mijo. Entiendes?”. As a cultural barrier, my heretical language of Spanish can sometimes prevent me from connecting with family because of my inadequate practice in it, thus attributing to my fear in migrating to and from Mexico as it makes me feel like I stand on a bridge between two canyons, thus dividing myself both culturally and physically with from my family. This divide also causes conflict with my life outside of my home in the English world in regards to how an individual such as myself struggles to connect with others because of the physical and cultural barriers that language brings. This struggle between migrants and their descendants can influence further migration of one’s family to other areas as a fear to come if the migration is to take place.
The Virgin Mary Guadalupe played a key role in unifying many Latinos even after they left their homeland for the US as she provided an anchor for those in a new country to endure their newfound hardships. Being raised Catholic, Gloria being a raised Catholic depended on the Virgin Guadalupe for cultural faith and guidance;, she like many other Mexicans believed that Guadalupe stood for something greater than themselves. She states, “To Mexicans on both sides of the border, Guadalupe is the symbol of our rebellion” (32). What is meant by rebellion is acting against the oppressive people who exploited Mexicans at the time Guadalupe was conceived and seen by the natives. Guadalupe in the eyes of Gloria is a symbol of unity amongst the Mexican people in both faith and customs that hold the communities together in times of strife, even when families are separated by physical barriersphysical barriers separate families.
My family’s Catholic faith and the symbol of Guadalupe caused my family to remain united even when we went our separate ways. My grandmother, Mama Lupe, was always faithful no matter what and she always said to both me and my cousins, “vamos a la mesa para rezar”, and whenever we kidskid complained she would reply in a stern voice, “Tienes fe no? Si, vamos con dios ahora”. My grandmother to this day holds significant sway in my personal faith, as she came into the US with nothing but faith, and now has everything she ever wanted because of it. In a way, someone’s faith may be all they come with to a new world, and in that world, perhaps because of their faith they can achieve their desires much like my family did. And Nnow my family is held together by our faith and Guadalupe is a symbol in this regard, to keep our family whole even when we are apart.
Gloria had one more characteristic in her migration story that blended in regards to achieving one’s desires in another country — , that is to retain her heritage amongst strangers and defend it. Many migrants assimilate completely into another culture when they migrate, but Gloria in the presence of those who mock her culture states, “I’ll defend my race and culture when they are attacked” (43). Migrants often lose themselves when they move to a new place because of the social pressures there. Issues of acculturation or assimilation pressures may cause conflict among migrant families and the host communities;, these conflicts pose aspresent barriers for migrants, and their fear of losing who they are in assimilating into their host culture may outweigh the desires they intend to achieve by migrating there.
Following the same progress of Gloria, my own family has had their struggles in assimilating into our culture. When my cousins and I were young, we faced a lot of discrimination for being able to speak only Spanish and no English, when we would come home to our parents and cry, “los oltro chicos no me gustan porque no hablo englis y no los juegan con nosotros”. Our parents would reply, “por supuesto no hablan englis, Uds no practican en la clase de englis y nadie hacen la tarea. Alli porque los oltro chicos no queren jugar con uds”. Over time when we did learn English we would became bilingual, but would have the occasional slipup in our speeches and whatnot. We did acculturate to the common language, but whenever we came under scrutiny again, my family would fiercely defend the values we were raised upon with because it made us who we are and will contribute to our goals. Which iIn the essentials blending our culture with another made our family strong in the hardships we faced and helped us reach our desires in the US.
Among faith, barriers, familyfamily, and language are the many struggles and hardships that migrant families such as my own and Gloria E. Anazaldua embrace in coming to a new world. The struggles to embrace a new world are many, but in life in general we are all in a state of migration, as we are always trying to do our best to achieve our greatest desires and goals and keep our fears and hardships at bay. Soy un hombre, un hermano, un athleta y un hijo. En un dia, un mes, o un ano quero mover y entonces continua mi vida.