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Sonia Sanchez

Professor Maenhardt

English 1050

July 14, 2017

Othering

People have been, and continue to be divided into groups. Whether this is due to; race,

gender, sexuality, religion, or culture differences, separation occurs. Although we like to think

that we have evolved and everyone is treated equally and has equal opportunities, this is not

completely true. Being treated differently just because you are not the norm is distressing.

Most of the people that make up the majority group look down, or at least do not see the

equality, between them and the minority group. In our textbook, we got to hear from some

people from different minority groups and it makes you wonder, how much has really changed

since then?

People who decide to migrate willingly from their countries to America, do so in hopes of

a better life. The world that these immigrants imagined was not always as beautiful as they had

portrayed it to be. No matter where foreigners migrated from the treatment was different for each

occasion. Even though millions of immigrants came to America, many thousands of people were

rejected (Gordon, 433). After people started migrating, Immigration Laws were passed,

constricting the acceptance of immigrants even more. Sometimes new immigration laws get

made or standing laws get adapted, some might argue this is to keep immigrants out.
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The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was one of our nations first significant federal

legislation restricting immigration. Many of the Chinese people that attempted to come to

America had to go through immigration processing on Angel Island. However, this became more

of a detention facility in which there was vigorous and stressful interrogations. It became so bad

they had to question why they came to the States in the first place. A poem by a Chinese

immigrant says:

I am distressed that we Chinese are in this wooden building. It is actually racial

barriers which cause difficulties on Yingtai Island. Even while they are tyrannical they

still claim to be humanitarian. I should regret my taking the risks of coming in the first

place.

This poem supports the idea as being treated as others by the majority group. As my

fellow classmate Jessica Cloward said;

Angel Island took anyone who was Chinese and basically locked them in a room for

months and even years because of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Americans were worried that the Chinese would take their jobs, just as currently

Americans feel that Mexicans are here to take their jobs. Every minority group will always be

thought of as trying to steal something from the American people. They do not understand that

the minorities simply want to progress and put food on their table, they arent here to steal

anything from anybody.

During the times where European immigrants arrived at Ellis Island, more immigration

acts were passed. These new acts made it so that newcomers had to prove, besides moral

correctness and financial solvency, their ability to read. (Gordon, 433). These people had to
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prove themselves to the inspectors, but still did not guarantee entrance. Most of the new

generation did not go through what the migrated people went through on Ellis or Angel Island.

However, the effects lasted and could be felt by the many generations that came after. Mary

Gordon supports the othering concept in her reflection of Ellis Island, she states;

But I suppose it is part of being an American to be engaged in a somewhat tiresome but

always self-absorbing process of national definition. And in this process, I have found in

traveling to Ellis Island an important piece of evidence that could remind me I was right

to feel my differentness. Something had happened to my people on that island, a result of

the eternal wrongheadedness of American protectionism and the predictabilities of

simple greed. (Trimbur, 434).

In reading Gloria Anzalduas How to Tame a Wild Tongue I noticed that othering

can happen in multiple ways. Gloria talks about how;

being caught speaking Spanish at recess-that was good for three licks on the

knuckles with a sharp ruler.

The fact that this was happening in the school system, shows that not only do minority

groups get singled out, but they are also stripped of their identity. By othering people start to

lose themselves because they try to please everyone, and if they do not, they get seen as ignorant

or broken. As classmate Brad Wilkinson said;

she felt as though it was her sense of self was being diminished from the constant

attacks on her language.

By being culturally, ethnically, or racially different, just to name a few, leaves you

vulnerable. There are people who do in fact treat everyone equally, we should not think everyone
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is the same. Our firsthand experiences shape our view of life, but those who are not willing to

learn and accept, are no better than those who segregate different groups. The world is changing

and I hope that we all learn to love each other equally, if not at least learn to respect each other.

Rhetorical Analysis

Gloria Anzalduas excerpt How to Tame a Wild Tongue comes directly from her book;

Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Gloria establishes her credibility because her

book is based off her real life, she experienced everything first hand. Throughout her essay she

describes how she must adjust to different dialectal situations. This text is emotional, but if the

reader does not know the language, it might be confusing. Pathos is displayed at the very

beginning when she includes a quote from Ray Gwyn Smith;

Who is to say that robbing people of its language is less violent than war?

We sometimes do not really think about or language as a privilege, we think of it as just an

ordinary part of life. On the contrary, we are fortunate we have the freedom to express ourselves

and our roots, even though they are sometimes frowned upon. Another thing Anzaldua mentions

that is miserable and hits home is when she talks about her teacher said;

If you want to be American, speak American. If you dont like it, go back to Mexico

where you belong.

As the reader, this appeals to my emotions because I can relate to this. There was an

instance when I used to work at Kentucky Fried Chicken when a gentleman refused to let me

take his order because of my ethnicity. He told me he wanted to speak to the manager, he said

this as he pointed to my Caucasian co-workers. I proceeded to explain to him that I was the

manager and he started clapping his hands as he said, You are not the manager, get me the
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manager! Dont you understand me?! DO you understand TACO!? Why dont you go back to

Mexico?! I did not know how to react, my heart ached, I had never been treated this way before.

As much as I wanted to lose my cool and stoop down to his level, I calmly said, Sir, there is no

need to talk to me in that matter, I understood your order perfectly and for your information I

was born here. I was not even mad at him, I was hurt, I can only imagine how that man treats

people who do not know English, I wanted to yell at him the way he was yelling at me, but as a

Hispanic person you must maintain your composure otherwise you give in to all the stereotypes

and make yourself look as uneducated and violent as others make it seem. Recently, I worked at

a homeless day center and I was speaking to a security guard in Spanish, for security purposes.

While I was talking to the security guard, a man walking by yelled stop Speaking Spanish we

are in America learn English! I responded to him in English of course, I said, What was that

you said? There is no need to be disrespectful, I am in no way disrespecting you so why are you

disrespecting me? He just looked at me astonished that I had understood what he had said.

Unfortunately, some people do not care to learn the facts, we all get categorized by the color of

our skin or the language we speak.

Throughout the whole book Anzaldua language is multi-dialectal. There are sentences

she writes in Spanish and does not translate. Her Spanglish literacy sets the tone about how

confusing and frustrating the cultural encounters at the borderlands (Brad Wilkinson) are.

There is more emotion behind the Spanish sentences she uses, but they can be lost in translation

if the reader does not comprehend. When she talks about the first time she heard two Puerto

Rican women talking; she says;

Even our own people, other Spanish speakers [want to put a lock on our mouths].
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Anzalduas sentences are mostly explanatory in English and her Spanish are mainly

expressions written as she was thinking them, or as they had been said to her. There are many

examples of the different dialects throughout her story. The main one is when she lists all the

languages that are spoken at the Borderlands. She also includes a brief story behind the use of

each of the dialects and when and where she, and other Borderlands habitants use them.

Anzaldua attempts to persuade the readers by making the text so confusing to read if not

a Spanish speaker. By doing so, it gives non-Spanish speakers a glimpse of how non-English

speakers might feel. In my opinion, Anzaldua succeeds in getting her point across and as a

Spanish speaker; it conveys a lot of emotion and relatability. Unfortunately, the downfall of non-

Spanish speakers not understanding, is that they do not really grasp the emotion, the intensity of

her words. I think everyone has their different opinion about what is fair or poor treatment of

others, but we should be conscious of the diversity there is within our nation, and treat everyone

as you would treat anybody within your inner circle. There are a lot of injustices in the world and

we should not be judged based on the color of our skin, or dialect, or anything for that matter.
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Works Cited

"Angel Island Immigration Station Poetry." Angel Island Immigration Station Poetry. University

of Washington Press, 1991. Web. 05 July 2017. <http://www.cetel.org/angel_poetry.html>.

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La frontera: the new mestiza. 4th ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute,

2012. Print.

George, D. and Trimbur, J. (2012). Reading culture. Boston, Mass. [u.a.]: Pearson.

History.com Staff. "U.S. Immigration Before 1965." History.com. A&E Television Networks,

2009. Web. 05 July 2017.

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