On White Anxiety and the Fear of a ‘Migrant Caravan’

Oct 18, 2018
2:05 pm

This past weekend, I had the privilege of rereading Gloria Anzaldúa’s classic text Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. I read it in preparation for Frontiers and Borderlands a graduate course taught by Dr. Emily Lutenski, professor of American Studies at Saint Louis University.

On Tuesday, class discussion centered on the following poetic passage:

This land was Mexican once
was Indian always and is
and will be again.

Anzaldúa’s words foreshadow a time when the United States will no longer be a land dominated by white supremacy. They bring hope for some. And, understandably so, evoke anxiety for a white other.

What an apt historical moment to read these words. The very next day, the following photograph made its rounds via social media:

Migrantes centroamericanos. Brown-skinned mestizos making their way northward, en route to the U.S. Southern border. Determined. Bearing flags, bearing hope, bearing dreams. The picture yells, “¡Allá vamos! Here we come.”

Today, a white other speaks. A particular white other.

Less poetic than Anzaldúa, no doubt.

White anxiety speaks.

And still speaks loudly.

***

Carlos Ruiz was born in Mexico City and grew up in Nashville, TN. He is a DACA recipient and currently a PhD student in American Studies at Saint Louis University.

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