Being a Librotraficante through and through, the first thing I wanted to see when I stepped on to the University of Texas-Pan American Campus in Edinburg was the monument to its star alum-Mexican American literary icon Gloria Anzaldúa.
Yes, of course, her book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza was part of the brilliant Tucson ISD Mexican American Curriculum that was prohibited under Arizona House Bill 2281, but her work had barrio cred, academic cred, and artistic cred way before that.
She was born in Hargill, Texas, a small town in the Rio Grande Valley, and attended UT Pan Am for her under graduate degree. That's like saying that Emily Dickens attended your school.
That's why I was stunned to find out that there was no monument to La Gloria at Pan Am, there was no building, there was no marker.
But perhaps this was just one more test that she prepared us for. If there is anything we learn as writers and activists from her ground breaking book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza that is to get mad at injustices and do something about it.
So we are.
The Librotraficante Movement is uniting with the young leaders of the Mexican American Studies Club at UT Pan Am and a few hundred of our brothers and sisters who will be attending The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas Foco 2013 at UT-Pan Am February 21 through 23. We will join to launch the Gloria Anzaldúa Librotraficante Under Ground Library.
Of course, as traffickers of contraband thought, as scholars of the Borderlands we know this name shall morph and blossom in order to achieve our communal goal. The name of this nascent monument might change so that administrators can more easily deal with mind-altering pros on its campus. The name might shift so that our people from the community can feel more at home when they visit the stock of books that oppressors have tried to keep away from them. And should, as happened in Tucson, an administration send in officials to confiscate these weapons of mass instruction, well then we Librotraficantes would have to return to take back what's ours.
But first YOU have to donate books to this pyramid of books in honor of Gloria Anzaldúa.
Ruben Garza, Vice President of the MAS Club put it this way,
The Gloria Anzaldúa Sin Fronteras Library is our way of responding to recent trends that marginalize Mexican and Mexican American identity and cultural practices. The attack on MAS and the banning of books in Arizona made us realize that, even long after the Chicano and Civil Rights movements, we are still fighting to defend our identity and to legitimize our role in this country. It is a sad realization that the struggle for justice and equality in the United States continues into the twenty-first century, and that today our nation is more divided than ever.
We invite all those who were inspired by La Gloria to come to perhaps share their favorite Gloria Anzaldúa memory, story or poem. Members of her family have been invited to bless this endeavor. We ask folks to attend and donate books ranging from their favorite work by Gloria to copies of the books that were banned in the Tucson Unified School District. (Click on the drop down menu under "Future" for an annotated bibliography of the banned books.)
The launch party takes place:
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2013
SESSION V 10:30-11:45AM
5I. Creating the Gloria Anzaldúa Sin Fronteras Library: A Roundtable (UTPA MAS Club)
LOCATION: MAGC 1.318
Chair: Laura Lee Oviedo, University of Texas, Pan American
Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante
Emmy Pérez, University of Texas, Pan American
Eloy González, University of Texas, Pan American
Rúben Garza, University of Texas, Pan American
John Michael-Torres, La Unión Del Pueblo Entero
You can also mail books to: The Mexican American Studies Club @ P.O. Box 1651 Edinburg, TX 78540
And while some folks automatically assume that our opposition to Arizona House Bill 2281 is simply to impose our culture on others, we would point out two things.
The Librotraficante Movement professes Quantum Demographics, which inspires us to build bridges to all cultures, as La Gloria taught us. But we are still at least a few decades from that moment, especially when we are defying book bans and the erasure of our culture.
VP Garza, puts it best,
We chose to honor Anzaldúa not only because she is a native of our community, but because her works teach us to move past the things that divide us (race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, etc.). This process begins with self-awareness, what Anzaldúa calls "reaching a new consciousness," or a "Mestiza Consciousness." Through self-awareness individuals learn to appreciate themselves as well as others, and from this appreciation and love of self/others we can begin to work towards true equality and justice. Our community is not self-aware, but we strongly believe a library dedicated to works by and about our community will help us get there someday. That is, this project is our way of trying to recapture pride in our people and community, while also setting the framework to reach meaningful social change.
We hope you will join us to ring the Latino Literary Renaissance with the launch of the Gloria Anzaldúa Sin Fronteras Library.
Everyone is welcome. Gloria would have wanted it that way.