Transculturation - Hybridity and the Chicano Future

Hybrid Identity

Remember that whole American Melting Pot thing I mentioned earlier? Well lets revisit that right before we jump into this period of hybridity. As I said earlier, the AMP is a huge misnomer and it doesnt exist as a real cultural process. The cool term people are using nowadays is the American Tossed Salad. This term basically means that rather than us all melting into one singular American identity, we instead are more like a tossed salad  in how we each contain different cultural pieces, identities, and ways of thinking inside of us. In more simpler terms, we have multiple fragmented identities within our singular self. These identities effect how we function between different cultural literacies, ways of thought, speaking, etc. Other then making us very confused individuals, it also opens up new possibilities - an overall participatory culture. This is made possible by a cultural process called Transculturation where members of disticnt cultural groups  (dominant or minority) borrow elements from each others identity to legitimize themselves (Pratt 33). Spanglish is a product of this, so is Chicano rock, and even the very popular sitcom The George Lopez Show offered an example of the intermingling of the Mexican/American cultural binary. The intermingling has caused an emergence of a in-between zone within the binary, an organic development that has many interesting posssiblities for the future.

Cultural Fluidity and the Post-Modern Effect

Arturo Islas
So by now, you're probably wondering where the shift occurred. Like how do we go from rigid Chcano nationalism to this newfound process of transculturation. Well to be frank, it has not occured without alot of sorrow and emotional weight. Also, it is not an absolute for everyone there is still large amounnts of Chicanos who believe this cultural hybridity will lead to a complete watering down of culture. Whether this is true or not, only time will tell. Well on a semi-lighter note, the realization of the possibility for hybridity within the Chicano identity began within the pages of a book. This book was called The Rain God written by Mexican-American writer Arturo Islas in 1991. There are two unique and revolutionary things that Islas did/was that made this book so meaningful. The first was that  he completely deconstructed the "traditional" rigid Mexican/Chicano culture in an almost ridiculing fashion. This deconstruction resulted in an open question to the reader if an honoring of your culture and speration from its rigid bounds was both possible - or if a more fluid identity was possible. The second thing was that Islas was openly homosexual. This fact revolutionized not only the genre but also the identity as a whole. I mean could you be both Chicano and gay? Could you navigate the cultural discourse of the Chicano world and gay world at once? More broadly, can you navigate seemingly opposite discourses and still honor both? Well the fact of the matter is that regardless of anyone's opinion it is occuring at an increasing rate. We see it in Chicano Rock:

We see it in adds:

Heck, we even see it in job postings:

Participatory vs. Oppositionary Culture

Okay so this is where I try to sum up my entire project up into a single epic sentence! Kidding of course, can't be done! Much like the development of hybrid identity versus tje conservation of a rigid identity, there is no clear right or wrong way to approach your identity. On a personal note, I believe that cultural hybridity and intermingling of discourses is a uniquely positive thing for society as a whole. It kind of moves us past the oppostional and othering of people from different cultural discourses. In other words in advocates a participatory discourse, a narrative of understanding almost. Through this process, literacy can promote change and empathy among cultural opposites. To get a better look of this I'll invoke and include some words from renowned Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldua, who wrote following the 9/11 tragedy:

"Each violent image of the towers collapsing, transmitted live all over the world then repeated a thousand times on TV, sucked the breath out of me, each image etched on my mind's eye. Wounded, I fell into shock,  cold and clammy. The moment fragmented me, disassociating from myself. Arresting every vital organ within me, it would not release me. Bodies on fire, bodies falling through the sky, bodies pummeled and crushed by stone and steel, los cuerpos trapped and suffocating became our bodies, As we watched  we too fell, todos calmos."

From Anzaldua's the collective use of we and how it envelops all of society we gain a persepective on this perspective of cross cultural empathy. It is here where the future of the Chicano identity lies and it is here where the identity will continue to develop in a mirror image of the spirit of La Raza.
With this bright prospects lets conclude it all with a video of Transculturation at its best, an Anglo man singing to a Mexican accordion with Spanglish lyrics:


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