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Abstract

Anzaldúa emphasized, and presenters on the panel confirm, that true revolution and social transformation can only take place when we are willing to imagine paradigms that disrupt the rigidity of either/or constructions. The notion of "borderlands" is, of course, central to such a disruption. When I first encountered Anzaldúa's poem "To live in the Borderlands means you," I felt I was returning to one of my earliest memories, a story I had heard often in my childhood and youth. Anzaldúa concludes her poem with the words "To survive the Borderlands,/ you must live sin fronteras/ be a crossroads." I appreciate her urging the reader to dwell in the crossroads, to refuse to be placed within any one camp, to resist being categorized and labeled, but I am puzzled by Anzaldúa's use of the word "survive." That word suggests that there is something unpleasant about the borderlands; that it is a place in which one would rather not be if one were not forced to remain in it. To see the borderlands as an unwelcome place is to capitulate to the dominant paradigm that demands that we choose which side we're on, that sees as weakness the need to recognize value in diverse, even conflicting, perspectives. So, I say to Anzaldúa, I choose not just to survive the borderlands, but to relish it. I proudly persist in it defiantly and triumphantly. There is power in the borderlands, potency in the middle spaces. Let us not minimize the great energy of the in-between.

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