La Mestiza & African- American Vernacular: Cultural Assimilation in Regards to Literary Theory

In terms of theorist Gloria Anzaldua’s writing, what is being theorized, or attempting to be put into practice is this idea of “mestiza” or a “cosmic race”, which is not something that is, I would say, strongly present in our current culture. Yet ideally, or in theory, this concept would bring value to minorities. This relates to other theories we have studied in that it addresses the existence of concepts in both the conscious and unconscious self, à la Freud. Is racism a conscious or subconscious response to global culture, and how do we combat it in positive and socially appropriate ways?  Anzaldua writes “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react”, and advocates for a tolerance of cultural ambiguity and acceptance of contradictions, much like different facets of literary theory may negate themselves. Henry Louis Gates expresses how African- American vernacular is lost in the cultural assimilation into white society, and in terms of other aspects in literary theory that we have discussed, this analyzes the importance and value of language.  What is being theorized here, I think is the practice or malpractice of “black language” and how it relates and is used in non- black culture.

I find these theories compelling in that they both put into question and examine how minorities lose aspects of their culture in “white” society, and a part of that process seems to be the acceptance of that which is lost and learning to live with it- ambiguity and hesitancy to define. I’ve seen the effects of these theories play out in most of my classes- growing up in predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods as a minority, I’ve borne witness to the struggle that “others” face when expressing themselves and attempting to identify their culture.  I’m struggling a bit to find these relations, but I see both pieces as a type of performance/ practice in literary theory. They seek to understand how spoken and written language and society/ culture affects linguistics meaning amongst peoples and the ability for us to understand, accept and comprehend one another.


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