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.