The Rebellious Tongues Silence as Social Control and Resistance

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The Death of the Profane by Patricia Williams also explores the power of silence. Williams experiences the silencing of her personal experience of racial prejudice and discrimination. These authors interpret silence in diverse ways, although they generally agree that silence is a powerful means of cultural assimilation that no minority group should condone. Silence can be a mark of social control or resistance, and people refuse to accept silence through developing and using their own languages privately and publicly or insisting to preserve their native languages. these are actions that are empowering, because the oppressed expresses to the rest of the society that they exist and intend to survive with their racial identities fully intact. Silence is a mark of social control over disenfranchised members of society. Anzaldua remembers silence as a form of social control for women and minority groups. For instance, she grows up learning that people who talk too much are called gossipers and liars (Anzaldua 34). Well-bred girls also hold their tongues and are expected to not answer back (Anzaldua 34). She remembers so many bad words about women that are not applied to men, which emphasizes the repression of women’s wild tongues, a manifestation of gender inequality in patriarchal societies. In addition, Anzaldua criticizes how Chicano Spanish or Tex Mex is undermined by purists as a mutilation of Spanish (35). Purists want to silence the use of Chicano Spanish that bastardizes pure Spanish or English. Anzaldua defends Chicano Spanish as a border tongue, which has its roots from the Chicano’s need to identify [themselves] as a distinct people (Anzaldua 36). It has a life of its own, because it as an opportunity to fight their silence. The American society wants them to learn English and lose their accents, while the Spanish and Mexican societies do not want them to use their own variants of the Spanish language. Anzaldua stresses that Chicano Spanish is a reaction to all these forms of social control. It is a language that intends to be heard and to be written. Williams also believes that silence is a form of social control. She is disappointed with a law review that aims to edit out her racial identity. She calls it censorship, but the editor explains this omission as a matter of style (306). She shares similar concerns as Anzaldua’s, because they both do not want their racial identities to be removed from their experiences. Silence can be interpreted as a form of resistance too. While Anzaldua and Williams refuse to be silenced, Kingston possesses power through her own silence. Kingston depicts that she is silent, because she struggles with the process of learning a new language that is supposed to replace her Chinese language. Her mother even narrates to her that she has cut her tongue, so that the latter would not be tongue tied. She wants her daughter’s tongue to be able to move in any language (1). Her mother is saying that her daughter should be able to suppress her accent and learn English the way Americans speak it. But Kingston does not want this foreign American language. Her silence in her American classes acts as her psychological defiance for the new language and culture that aims to change her identity. Kingston narrates her three years of covering her school paintings with black paint. This can be