Written by Tiffany McFadden
In the speech “Speaking In Tongues…” Gloria Anzaldua addresses women writers of color and the “dangers” that they must confront in order to make their voices heard. As women of color, their status is one of invisibility. They are not seen in the white male mainstream world and or the white feminist world. In the beginning of the speech, Anzaldua tells her audience that their risks are different from white women because being colored means “we don’t have as much to lose – we never had any privileges”. To be colored is to be invisible. And to be invisible is to be “inaudible”. Therefore, women writers of color are not seen and are not unheard.
Anzaldua states that some women writers of color “are in danger of contributing to the invisibility of our sister-writers” in the process of trying to make their voices capable of being heard in the white feminist world. The message is for women writers of color to not sell-out, but to embrace their own language and culture; to not conform to the standards of a world that does not want to hear or see you. For women writers of color to conform to the standards of the white male mainstream world and or white feminist world will only perpetuate the invisibility and silencing of the class. The women writers of color must “forget the room of one’s own—write in the kitchen, lock yourself up in the bathroom” and write in your own tongue.
There are many parallels that can be drawn between Anzaldua talks of the dangers that must be confronted by women writers of color in “Speaking In Tongues” and Sapphire’s Push (1996). I feel that Sapphire tackles the issues of invisibility and inaudibility head-on by using the Precious actual voice; the voice of a young black female that has been unable to excel in school due to the emotional and physical abuse of her mother and father. Although Precious does not speak standard American English, she still has a story to tell about her experience. In her tongue (language), Precious is able to capture the minds and hearts of audience.