When it comes to issues faced by people residing in or with connections to Latin America, the dominating culture, whether in language or identity, often takes precedence over smaller subcultures. Two examples of this are Snow Tha Product’s music video for her song “Bilingue” and Gloria Anzaldua’s How to Tame a Wild Tongue (p.33-37) from her book Borderlands/La Frontera. First of all, The “Bilingue” music video shows many items that mainstream Latinx media has dubbed as being an encapsulation of “Latinidad.” Sweet Bread, Corona Beer, Hot Cheetos, and many other foods shown in the video have become tokens of Latinx identity, christened by Latinx influencers as things that only “a true Latino eats.” This commodified Latinx identity bolsters the idea that there is a mold that one must fit into to be able to label themselves as Latinx. Secondly, Anzaldua’s How to Tame a Wild Tongue discusses the sanctity of the Spanish language that defines a large part of her Chicana/Latina identity. She recalls how “other Spanish speakers… would hold [them] back with their bag of reglas de academia” (p. 35), and while this quote recognizes the language struggles of many Latin Americans, it excludes how race plays into it. Many of the issues that Anzaldua discusses were and continue to be increasingly worse for people of color who may not speak Spanish at all, or who have developed a dialect in the way that Black Americans have developed AAVE. The backlash from the “purist” for one’s “mutilation of Spanish” is far more violent towards Black, Indigenous People of Color than Mestize/White Latinx people (p. 35). In sum, Bilingue and How to Tame a Wild Tongue are evidence of how one must learn how to bring issues to light with the recognition of its racial, class, and other types of complexities.
Tokens of Identity in Bilingue:
Tacos de Lengua (Tongue Tacos)
Concha (Sweet Bread known as “Shell”)