Migration and Cultural Identities

Carla Corona


"Dis/Grace My Race"

(Spanish Abstract)

I am visible-see this Indian face-yet I am invisible. I both, blind them with my beak nose and am their blind spot. But, I exist, we exist. They'd like to think I have melted in the pot. But I haven't, we haven't

-Gloria Anzaldúa
from Borderlands/La Frontera


On a quest to locate the grace in dis-grace within the performativity of self-identity and authenticity, an exploration into language as a plausible form and essential element to ethnicity is challenged. With so many various meanings of the word grace, it is obvious that the qualities in which make up an individual are similar to this definition. Grace refers to the character of 1. Elegance, beauty, and smoothness of form or movement and 2. A capacity to tolerate or forgive people. Racial categorization as a form of tolerance becomes the historical venue for Latinos in the United States. Why is there a certain grace correlated with a race? Why does it become disgraceful to the race as a whole if one doesn't speak the associated language? The grace within an ethnicity claims itself through the empowerment of the arts within the culture. This promotes, in essence, spaces that are less restrictive, spaces that are limitless, and spaces where language does not authenticate race.
The complexity of an/"other" Latindad, my identity contradicted an existence as an "American" girl; a display of "performance of identity" was challenged. The embodiment of self was not white, blond, or wealthy enough. This "performance of identity" is based on aesthetics because I was seen as la niña and not as "the girl next door." I embodied Mexican-ness, but I was a disgrace to the race. The language heard from my father, grandparents, and great-grandparents resonated within my aural sensory, but never made it farther than the music I heard, the food I requested, or the items I nick-named. The slightly painted skin, the gazing brown eyes, the trenzas that fell down my back characterized, essentially labeled me as la niña/la mujer, but the sound of English spoken from my voice found me as la pocha (white-washed Mexican-American or U.S. born Mexican), an/"other" Latina. The once confused child of self-identity matured into an adult of higher education and awareness and connection with the inner self. The role of higher education in self- awareness became relevant in conjunction to the politics of identity when an epiphany occurred that I am an "other" within an/"other" Latinidad. Language is an expression of identity, but this politics of identity dis-allowed me to connect with my history. This is complicated by the lack of this "acceptable" skill. Seeking and exploring to reclaim the roots that were buried by a mostly "assimilated" family unit are now in the forefront of investigation.
In Southern California as an Americana, a Mexican-American, a Chicana, a Latina, names used to categorize that which is alien, historically situated me in a liminal space. This feeling of the liminal has created a new Latinidad- an/"other" Latinidad. Aside from the first generation, the 1.5 generation , and the second generation, it is important that within the new millennium, we explore those born of participants in the Chicano movement as well as well as those reclaiming an identity. For the purposes here, the "call it what you want" generation are those whom constantly struggle with language as their border of authentication. Surprisingly, many of "us" exist, whether the hyphen falls in between the American of Mexican, Cuban, or Puerto Rican descent, it becomes a "call it what you want" group of individuals who are seeking and searching to find a way back into the stream of movements. These movements are in search of finding an acceptance into lost ethnicity. The arts, especially theater and music, create an avenue where this exploration is fluid and flexible. In this essay, an examination into language as a controversial legitimacy to race authenticity, utilizing the mediums of theater and music to link spatial boundaries and borders as symbolic positions for Latinos in the United States, and finally, language, specifically Spanish as a fetishized commodity for Americans and "the call it what you want" generation is addressed.
Focusing on the historical situation of Southwest geography, specifically California, the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, illuminates the situation of conflict and borders. This treaty negotiated the spatial borders and created conflict as well as resonating a sense of "not belonging" for the remaining population. More recently in the late 1960's into the 1970's, the Chicano movement set a new precedent for the politically, socially, and economically conscious communities. In essence, chicanismo defined liminality being betwixt the polarity of race, culture, nationalism, and language. These modalities of difference converge to create a space within defining categories and gave the dismemberment of a community a relevant attachment to a culture . Self-referentially, the liminality and displacement remain personalized notions since I am neither Mexican in citizenship nor American culturally. This idea of liminality is complex because in and of itself, a boundary needs to be on either end of the spectrum. In order to identify the liminal, within ethnicity, the identity resides among the in-between. However, the dichotomy of a two-sided spectrum perpetuates an allegiance to being Mexican or American.
The border-crosser must be prepared to move as swiftly between identities as [they] did between countries. In each case, it is 'traversing' the open space, the in-between ground that holds both the most promise and the most danger
The switching of identities also replicates the convenience of ethnic identity. For those Latinos that deny themselves their ethnicity, they switch within themselves because they cannot be of themselves in such a homogenized society. In essence, the hyphen politicizes a theoretical acceptance of One or the Other. Although, one is Mexican
(-)American, the embodiment is usually Mexican-ness and the desire is usually American. Border crossing and spatial crossing is a pivotal moment in citizenship and nationalistic attitudes. Within theater and music, visual and aural situations relate to ethnic identity as well as ethnic loss. Art forms such as music and theater cross the boundaries. Latin Americans become a part of "mainstream" and theater audiences find a haven in the "familiar" staging. Along with visual and aural, these textual properties and ideologies create a place of community as well as familiarity to an ethnicity. On the other hand, in order to authenticate a culture, the Spanish language must be apparent.
The theatre provided the Mexican-American with a type of entertainment that unified the community through language, themes based on familiar experiences and their history, fulfilled their sense of nationalism through identity with the mother country and through entertainment suitable for the entire family. On an even broader base, however, we can see that Spanish-language professional dramatic companies brought a wide spectrum of society to the theatre.

This statement supports an acceptance of the hyphenated self as in an acceptance with the America, but also with the homeland. Creating a comfort zone within the stage allows for survival within the liminal. As one crosses the border into the U.S., Latinos live in between and because of the stage and music, this is portrayed as more acceptable. It becomes more acceptable because of commodity, ideals, and categorizations. Cherríe Moraga states, "Los Estados Unidos es mi país, pero no es mi patria" (The United States is my country, but it is not my patria). This statement resonates, but I want to take it one step further to the affect of my upbringing. Because I was raised in America, it is a representative of my dwelling; however, I am displaced from parts of my self- the Mexican culture, the history, and the language. After all, these are complications, which define one as a disgrace to the race. Furthermore, the attitude of the liminal state is confined within two opposite ends; essentially spatial borders one being the U.S. and the other being the home country, in this case México. I am situated in the middle.
Exploring the terms of "Latinidad" allows for an openness and acceptance of a new self, an/"other" Latina. The term "Latinidad" includes the "the ensuing enactments, definitions, and representations of Hispanic or Latino culture." Also, "Latinidad" includes the ideology that people of the Spanish-speaking world, as well as, the community of Latinos create an identity-an/"other" Latinidad. An "other" exists while claiming an identity, after all, who has the authority to authenticate a race? Within Latinidad, so many times, this ideology solely relates to language. The "other" as noted in Latinos, INC: The Marketing and Making Of A People, "Responds to and reflects the fears and anxieties of mainstream U.S. society about its 'others', thus reiterating the demands for an idealized, good, all-American citizenship in their constructed commercial images and discourses." Identity is representative of white trepidation in search of the viable citizen, and identity is marked by language.

Music and Theater: The Role of Identity
Music and theater function as a bridge to a culture. These art forms serve as an identifier of similarities even of the differences. Music's cultural influence is divided into 4 areas: 'affect/performance/community/ memory-history.' Here, Josh D. Kun is referring to Guillermo Gómez-Peña's: Borderscape 2000, he interprets the work borrowing from Mark Slobin and Jeff Todd Titon's paradigm in which they divide music's cultural influence into the affects, as noted previously, for his use of music within the performance. "He (Gómez-Peña) deploys music for histories it embodies, the memories it encodes and displays, the emotions and attachments it reflects, and the cultural meanings and relationships it performs to the ear of the listener . In agreement with the interpretation of Borderscape 2000 (Gomez-Peña), Gómez-Peña states that "first the extent to which Latino/a identities have historically been commercialized and repackaged on both sides of the border and the border is mobile and fluctuating." This idea of a commercialized and the repacking Latino/a identity alludes to the use of language within music. This language is commercialized as well as marked. Music is very important within a culture; therefore, when music's synergisms of commodity and culture reach a crux, they make wave for a new identity. Mentioning mainstream artists such as Shakira, Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera, and Enrique Iglesias , they promote this idea of language, in fact, musical language as commodity. On the other hand, music is heard as a connection to ethnicity, especially when a sung in a language known as the "other". Again, music recalls memories, affects emotions, represents history, and creates relationships with its listener.
Music and theater have created an arena for artists to explore the politics of language in the construction of identity. The term of crossing-over is most associated with music and the mainstream. "Crossing-over" refers to the idea of crossing-over both a physical space and symbolic space. The physical space is indeed the U.S. border. The symbolic space that once one "crosses-over", they've conquered it all is the easily accepted notion. More recently with the "Latin Craze" of Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, and most recently colombiana Shakira, they have successfully crossed-over into and within the U.S.. Their careers that began with Spanish as a prime form of expression and communication have now switched to and include English. However, in the case of Aguilera, her career began solely in English, but has expanded into Spanish. Is her expansion an authentication of her 1/4 Latinidad? Have other artists abandoned an identity? To reiterate, once one makes it into the states including acceptance of the population "other", they've reached the golden treasure. Language has dollar signs. Language is a commodity. Language is the identity
It must be noted that although Enrique Iglesias is a native Spaniard he still is categorized as the Hispanic, arguably, interchangeable with Latino. In the 1970's, the term Hispanic was created to homogenize anyone who spoke Spanish because these individuals were a representation of Latinidad in the United States. The Latino consensus includes those that speak Spanish as the authentic group. This is the challenge with identity politics also because racial categorizations are easily mislead and homogenized to one "Other". The same idea relates with Spanish music being sold in one category, if the singer performs in Spanish, they are placed with the "world music". Spanish is the ethnic theme that sells. Racially categorizing groups accepts language as authenticator. T
Relating to these musical artists, for whose consumption have they crossed over? Crossing boundaries, specifically, with Latin Americans in the States, have helped in opposing the pedagogy of the liminal. These art forms fuse and share in an attempt to meld together, but in the end create anew. "The Chicanization of México and the Mexicanization of Chicano America" is a powerful element. It appears that it is either one or the other. In other words, they are inexplicable without each other. This idea epitomizes the washing away or putting on top of an identity. Essentially, it is a layering mechanism to fuse and forget. Musically speaking, these artists that I have aforementioned are crossing the boundaries by choosing a side.
Theater has also been an outlet to explore language, identity, and ethnicity. Within conventional theater, the use of bilingualism in the states specifically, in the West Coast, has become more common since the introduction of El Teatro Campesino in 1965 by Luis Valdez. Since then, many plays have been written about the Chicano experience . In Latina and Los Vendidos, the playwrights chose characters portraying assimilated Latinas. The protagonists completely deny their ethnicity and cultural background. As either a "sell-out" character or a character with perfect English, they examine a concern for lack of authenticity due to lack of knowledge for a language. Also, when plays are written about the Chicano or Latino experience it becomes more helpful in identifying the scenario when the language is in the "acceptable" language of the homeland. Huerta argues that when producing an "ethnically" thematic play, "the entire production team must have an understanding, a sensibility of the people and situations being portrayed. Otherwise our plays are not about us; they are about them." Thus, many more companies have introduced both Spanish and English in their text when relating to similar and related topics. I agree with Huerta that a common understanding must be present, however, if the "acceptable" language is missing or ranked unsatisfactory, has one become less authentic?
Another idea of crossing borders is to seek out the American Dream. What needed to be sacrificed in order to reach that fantasy? Language becomes one of the issues at the forefront. In order to assimilate and acculturate, language is often lost in the process. The desire to fulfill the American Dream is a just that, a desire. The protagonist in the play Simply María or the American Dream by Joséfina López, is a girl who leaves her cultural roots in Mexico in search of the American dream. She wants a land of opportunities, a place to expand her education, and heighten her intellect. She leaves México in search of this dream and in the end is faced with identity, language, and categorization as a struggle. The "American Dream" is a search because it is unknown if the quest will find a happy ending; however, María is willing to sacrifice for this fantasy.

Language and Identity as a Performance Space
Ngugi wa Thiong'o defines performance space in three ways. The first is to see performance space as a self-contained field of internal relations: the second way, is constituted by the totality of its external relations to these other centers and fields: and thirdly, which I will explore, is that its entirety of internal and external factors, may be seen in its relationship to time, in terms, that is, of what has gone before- history-and what could follow-the future. What memories do this space carry and what longings might it generate? The performative space of the hyphen equates internal politics. Many performances can be produced within the liminal, in fact, the liminal is essentially the hyphen. Even visually the hyphen (-) is set between two identities, for instance, the Mexican and the American, the Mexican (-) American. Using the hyphen, which is the liminal also acknowledges binary oppositions. The hyphen indeed categorizes, confines, and constricts, but living within the liminal creates a performance space. This space within language has created a history, a place, and a culture, again, an-"other" Latinidad. Furthermore, Spanish as a language becomes a space for performance through the connotations of the language. Whether authentic or not, it is an issue still to be determined.
Also, the idea of the spatial hyphenation is intriguing because literally the hyphen (-) forms the "boundary" in between two words; yet, it is also symbolic of the connection between two worlds. Through the hyphenation of a word this is an act of syncretism . The essence of hybridity is the core element of a hyphen. The person between the hyphen remains and is inclusive of both sides. However, personification of the hyphen takes affect due to the identity politics attached to that line between the words- the hypen. The population of hyphenated selves is that in which identity politics burden within categorizations, identifications, and specifications. However, these hyphens create uniqueness in their own right.

Language as Commodity-Fetish
The art, the language, the culture becomes the fetish. Language, especially Español has become a fetish for American consumption. It is a language romanticized and exotified. It is a language that is made popular by themes of commercial foods, music, and stereotypes. Language as a commodity fetish is an individualized concept. Using Marx's theory of the fetish as a commodity relating to the person in the liminal space is mysterious because "the commodity does not come from its use-value." Ironically, spoken language becomes a commodity. As language is a performance of the "everyday", the commodity fetish of this "everyday" space becomes unique for American consumption. "This fetishism of the world of commodities arises from the peculiar social character of the labour which produces them." Here, the idea of the artists within the mainstream relate as the labour, however, these artists are producing that which is fetishized- the language. In addition, commodities are not given value until they are exchanged; therefore, language is not given value until it is used for marketing and media, or has become a yearning. The value of language for me is by standards of loss, whereas, language for others may purely be a capital gain. Besides as simply a language as a form of expression, the language has become a profitable item.
If commodities could speak, they would say this: our use-value may interest men, but it does not belong to us as objects. What does belong to us as objects, however, is our value. Our own intercourse as commodities proves it. We relate to each other merely as exchange-values
In my argument, in fact, commodities do speak; they speak through language. In the music mainstream it is language that has offered a larger consumption through consumerism. And it is within theater that language has become of value for the continual connection with history, memories, and representations. In addition, language becomes fetishized as a concept for Americans as well as the new "Latinidad".
Language becoming fetishized by the American population as well as the "call it what you want generation" has two different significances. The first is that language in and of itself is categorized as a romance language. With the connotations that accompany the sound, this indeed gives reason for this language to become desirable. Whether spoken or heard, Spanish is a commodity. On the other hand, within Latinidad, I would like to argue that the "call it what you want" generation has fetishized the Spanish language, symbolizing their mourning and loss of ethnicity. For instance, Urban Latino and Latina endeavor to authenticate ethnicity by dominating these textual situations with a promotion of Spanish and English. Here we see how Spanish is promoted to maintain an authentic arena, but English is the microcosm of nationalism. The beauty of the language, the sensuality of the language becomes desirable to the American consumers. This desire comes for the new "Latinidad" because a new generation exists that cannot fully relate to the usual Latinidad; therefore, bilingualism places or replaces into the liminal. They can buy and sell us. Describing the two magazines, Urban Latino and Latina, as
For Latino people who also speaks English…this also reinforces the notion that all Latinas speak Spanish and that, while some may also speak English, English is ancillary to their use of Spanish, which in their view rightly defines anyone as Latina. Spanish also provides a central political symbol that unifies U.S. Latinness in the United States."

In association with citizenship as well as media and advertising, the idea of authentication becomes clearer because language is openly used for categorization. Acceptance of the English language symbolizes the categorization of Latinos/as in the United States. Just as I continually will be categorized as la niña/la mujer, Latinos in the United States will be remade for the excessiveness of American consumption.

Authentication in Language

La pocha is an identity in which a person doesn't speak Spanish or speaks Spanish "poorly". Primarily native-born Mexicans, who apply it derisively to U.S.-born Mexicans, have used the term pocha. Not surprisingly, many Mexican-Americans and Chicanos find the term offensive. The word refers to a person of Mexican descent who speaks little Spanish or who speaks Spanish 'poorly.'" Again, the issue of the betwixt and between two identities becomes an issue for categorization and disgracefulness to a race. La pocha becomes the unwanted category for the "call it what you want" generation. It is important to understand that the derisive nature of the term only fabricates the essentiality of language as authentication. "'Authenticity' or 'originality' do not necessarily depend on purity. They are claimable as 'uniqueness' and both pure and mixed traditions can be unique." Within the topic of authenticity, for whom do we have to be authentic for? Remember this the next time an-"other" Latina becomes doubtful of their acceptance into their race. Authenticity from language for many hyphenated Latinos is the mourning of a loss, but also it is a longing to find.


CONCLUSION
I am visible-see this Indian face-yet I am invisible. I both, blind them with my beak nose and am their blind spot. But, I exist, we exist. They'd like to think I have melted in the pot. But I haven't, we haven't.

Re-referencing this quote, it is a milestone for me to grasp the notion of the visible versus invisibility. In relation to internal and external concepts, visibility and invisibility becomes a source for survival. I will always be a reflection of my ancestors, for I am the image of my roots, my history, and my past. I am the empowered, but powerless; the feared, but the fearless; the threat; but the threatened. I haven't melted in the pot, but I have discovered a revived recipe of authenticity. The "call it what you want" generation is not a disgrace to the race, but a reminder of the grace within my race. The beauty found within is moved with style and promise. Also, with the encouragement of rekindling a lost spirit, I have been able to not authenticate myself with a categorized self, but explore the existence of the liminal and proclaim its value.
I proudly claim myself as a Chicana, a Latina, a Mexican-American, a "call it what you want" mujer. It is viable that the phrase disgrace to the race is connected to language as a form of authentication, but searching and omitting the "dis", one can find the grace of the phrase. Furthermore, theater and music becomes an avenue of expression in visual, aural, and spoken interpretation of language as a prime connection with race and identification. Because in American society the "other" is easily commodified and fetishized, as well as buried and altered, it is important to strive for political, economic, and social balance because "I exist, we exist." I am an/"other" Latinidad, but this another horizon for my race. It is in this exploration that resistance and challenges appear and it is in art forms that successfully symbolize the notion of validation