The idea of identity and culture has always been topical in the literature. Numerous authors have been cogitating about their culture and place in a particular country or community. For America, this issue acquired critical importance because of the history of the state and its multicultural nature. The diversity of people, cultures, and beliefs created the basis for the rise of multicultural identity and discussions about the nature of Americans and their origin. At the same time, the racial and discriminative issues that emerged at the first stages of the country’s evolution stipulated the appearance of biased attitudes to minorities because of their difference from the majority. Thus, Aurora Levins Morales and Gloria Anzaldua touch upon multicultural identity in their poems. They view America as a mixture of various cultures, offering different perspectives on it. However, they protect the critical importance of every individual and their right to life and fair attitude.
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Aurora Levins Morales, in “Child of the Americas,” introduces the concept of multicultural identity as the core idea for US society. From the first lines, the author introduces the main argument “I am a child of the Americas, / a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean, / a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads” (Levins Morales 1067, 1-3) She says that she is an immigrant, and this feature peculiar to all other people living here as they all arrived at these lands. In such a way, there are no pure Americans who can be viewed as the dominant class. Instead, everyone possesses some characteristics of other cultures. Using repetition and a strong metaphor, Levins Morales states several times, “I am a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew,” “I am Caribena, island grown,” “I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return” (1067, 4, 9, 15). It means that all people in the country possess a multicultural identity, but they are all Americans made by history.
The poem “To live in the Borderlands Means You” by Gloria Anzaldua also describes the multiculturalism peculiar to people living in America. From the start, the author says, “To live in the borderlands means you / are neither hispana india negra espanola / ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata,” (Anzaldua 1068, 1-3). These terms are usually used to describe people of different origins who live in the country. However, they have negative connotations and are viewed as labeling, meaning that people of various cultures might have difficulties linked to their origin. At the same time, Anzaldua rejects shaming and treating people because of their culture. She says, “to live in the Borderlands means knowing that the india in you,” emphasizing the importance of roots (Anzaldua 1068, 7). Repeating the phrase “living in the Borderlands means you” several times throughout the poem, Anzaldua shows the complexity of possessing multicultural identity but also views it as a critical part of America.
In such a way, both analyzed poems are devoted to a similar problem. The authors proclaim that there are no pure Americans who can say their origin is the only one that should be respected. Instead, Americans are people of various cultures and beliefs who arrived at these lands and formed a new society. The authors also introduced similar metaphors of “crossroads” and borderlands. Levins Morales uses the metaphor of “crossroads,” showing that America became the place where multiple cultures intertwisted (1067, 3). The concept of “borderlands” introduced by Anzaldua means the place where two different things overlap or where cultures clash and influence each other (1068, 1). These two symbols are vital for understanding the central message of the poems. Furthermore, using repetitions and metaphors, Anzaldua and Levins say that being an American means being ready to accept multiculturalism and the unique identity formed under the influence of various factors. Accepting this idea is critical for avoiding discrimination and eliminating barriers for improved collaboration.
At the same time, the authors use different tones and ideas to represent their ideas. The poem by Morales does not directly outline problems or discriminative issues that might emerge because of representing a particular culture. Instead, the author enumerates all cultures and shows that there is no reason for conflicts between people based on their nature. At the same time, Anzaldua uses another approach as she introduces offensive terms that are usually used to address people of various origins. She also shows how the depressed groups struggle to prove they are Americans and have the same rights. From this perspective, these pomes introduce various perspectives on the same issue as the tones selected by the authors are different.
Altogether, the analyzed poems revolve around the same issue, which is critical for America. Aurora Levins Morales and Gloria Anzaldua speak about the multicultural identity of all people living on these lands. The main idea is that there are no Americans who are better than others as it is the race of immigrants. However, once they arrived at the land, they became a single nation with features inherited from different cultures. For this reason, there should be no place for conflicts based on identity or origin. All people living in the state are the children of America, although they might have various skin colors, beliefs, or religions. The poems emphasize the importance of multicultural identity for the country and the necessity to respect it as the core issue influencing all spheres of social life.
Anzaldua, Gloria. “To Live in the Borderlands Means You.” Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, William Burto, and William E. Cain. 8th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. 1068. Print.
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Levins Morales, Aurora. “Child of the Americas.” Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, William Burto, and William E. Cain. 8th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. 1067. Print.