Before time runs out, it’s a pleasure to introduce my book for the month, which will be one of the greatest literary goldmines on my shelf for a long time to come. Below is an excerpt from Making Face, Making Soul: Critical Perspectives by Women of Color:
“¡LA CULTURA! ¡LA RAZA!
Sometimes all it means to me is suffering. Tragedy. Poverty. Las caras de los tortured santos y las mujeres en luto, toda la vida en luto. La miseria is not anything I want to remember and everything I cannot forget. Sometimes the bravery in facing and struggling in such life is too little. The courage with which a people siguen luchando against prejudice and injustice is not glory enough…” – Edna Escamill, Corazon de una Anciana
The book is a collection of writings by women of color from all across the United States, gathered and edited by the late, great Gloria Anzaldua.
I had the fortune to learn about the book after a dear friend of mine shared one of its essays with me: Aleticia Tijerina’s Notes on Oppression and Violence. In it, Tijerina speaks of her life with imprisonment since the age of twelve, and describes the herculean feat of finding and maintaining love for herself before an unrelenting enemy, both in the state and in herself. I was riveted by the power of Tijerina’s voice, which was filled as much by rage as it was by beauty.
“We were all imprisoned for various crimes against the State: impersonating men; escaping abusive homes; setting fires; taking drugs; robbery ’cause we were hungry…Most of our so-called “crimes” were acts of resistence or rebellion against an oppressive family, school, society; for many of us, our cultural identity had been battered and abused since birth.”
Though I couldn’t fully comprehend it at the moment, I knew on hearing Tijerina’s voice from the page that I’d found a living, breathing genius, who — most importantly– was in close proximity to my community. Little did I know how many more writers just like her were out there.
In Gloria Anzaldua’s Haciendo Caras, there’s an entire generation of women –like Tijerina but also substantially different– who have published their voices after a lifetime of being silenced.
There’s no doubt about the brilliance of each voice in this endeavor. Gloria Anzaldua and her contemporaries show themselves to be masterful writers who have not only studied their subjects, but who have also taken the time to weave them in terms that pulse vividly with life for the reader.
She sat cross-legged and still on top of the hill, at first watching and then becoming part of the moonlight, the brilliant sun. Tall yellow grasses stood stiff and dry and were blown down by the first harsh winds of winter. When the rains came, the earth sprouted in green and tender innocence. She listened to the meditative soul of winter and felt the quickening of spring and each of the seasons in turn: she knew that Time was inside of her.
Journeying alongside each writer in Making Face, I found myself humbled to learn of their intricate arguments, which reveal difficult positions on how to achieve a total humanity between male, female, and other identities alike.
For example, how should ‘women of color’ identify themselves as women who are distinct from the dominant white women’s feminist movement at the same time that they search for the mutual liberation of both white and non-white women, i.e. all women?
And how can women of color increase the publication of their perspectives when the major industries of publication are themselves caught in a power struggle between white females and their white male counterparts?
Similarly, how do women of color reconcile their relationships with others who call themselves allies, but who are only interested in their own personal gain from the movement?
And in Anzaldua’s words, how do women of color resist the imposition of internalized self-loathing on their counterparts?
Like the (colonizer) we try to impose our version of ‘the way things should be’: we try to impose one’s self on the Other by making her the recipient of one’s negative elements, usually the same elements that the Anglo projected on us. Like them, we project our own self-hatred on her: we stereotype her; we make her generic.
The response to these challenges vary from voice to voice, and themselves only represent a sample of the book’s many subjects, but Making Face manages to place its multiple different perspectives in a way that still indicates a true solidarity between them.
For this, I know that JIMBO TIMES is privileged to share the collection with the people of Los Angeles.
And to be sure, there’s far more that can be said about the collection — of its beautiful treatment of dreams and time and space, or of its historic lens across the decades — but of course, there’s only so much we can say before time runs out.
For now, check out Making Face, Making Soul for yourself; I assure you you won’t regret it!
With more soon,