Escaping the Eurocentric American Stranglehold
Ethnic variety is one of the defining characteristics of the American people. The American people, however, define themselves based on their cultural background. Armando Rendón and Judith Ortiz Cofer are two writers with passionate perspectives on encroaching Anglo assimilation. Rendón reflects on his near loss and reclamation of cultural identity in his essay, “Kiss of Death,” while Cofer's heritage is tested and strengthened through her encounters with Anglo judgment in her essay titled “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria.” In Rendón’s “Kiss of Death” and Cofer’s “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria,” Euro-centric America threatens to drain the color and life out of Latin American culture simply due to lack of understanding and tolerance.
The childhood experiences of both writers show how their cultural identity was at risk of being erased. In his essay “Kiss of Death,” Armando Rendón articulates his brush with Anglo cultural dominance and his willingness to abandon who he was by stripping himself completely of his heritage (91). While Rendón’s childhood serves as an excuse to allow his cultural fire to die out, Judith Cofer expresses her confusing adolescence in “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I just Met a Girl Named Maria,” in stating, “I suffered from what I think of as a ‘cultural schizophrenia’” (391). Rendón’s Mexican-American heritage is intentionally forgotten in an attempt to blend in with his fellow classmates, to assimilate into the Eurocentric American culture. Cofer’s Puerto Rican parents, on the other hand, are very strict in ensuring that she lives her life as a Puerto Rican in America. Cofer’s Puerto Rican background leads to a cultural clash with her environment where she is viewed as an outsider because of her choice of clothing and her Latino appearance. From childhood onward, both writers grow to understand their cultures in a...
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