P.O.V. kicked off the discussion by asking
Dagoberto 6 initial questions, the same 6 we are asking all the
P.O.V.: In your work, you consider the notion of 'borders.' What
is a border to you?
Dagoberto: A border is the divide between two unblended, say, colors.
In my region, there is Mexican culture and there is American culture,
Mexican people and American people. I have lived in the interior
and on the exterior border of being Mexican and American. It is
a contrast and a tension of both the inner-self its phobias
and intuitions, its shake up of vanity and pride and an outer-world
of age-old resentments and unique opportunities.
P.O.V.: What's an important border that you've crossed in your
Dagoberto: I wanted to be intelligent, to feel smart. To be as wise
as a book. I started at a junior college with that as my goal. Often,
young and dreamy, I would see this as almost an icon, an image of,
like, an old, bespectacled man on a wooden ladder, in a dimly lit
library, reading a huge and forgotten yellow-paged book from the
top of a dusty shelf in the darkest corner. Am I intelligent now?
Did I get smart enough? (If anybody knows me and knows the answer,
please do not howl with laughter here and interrupt those thinking
I am in deep thought.) I learned I could never be that man in the
library. But from my yearning, blending it with what was me and
my experience and understandings, I grew (through reading old books
of wisdom but having to have jobs that had nothing whatever to do
with those books). And I did what I set out to do: I've written
books. Whether they are full of any wisdom or intelligent insights
whatever, whether they are just a passing entertainment, I became
a writer, the one I dreamed of being.
P.O.V.: If you could erase any border in your world, what would
Dagoberto: I don't like this question at all! It forces a nice answer
about the world, because what can you say about your beliefs here
that isn't self-absorbed and self-centered or silly, knowing that
there are so many in the world with serious trouble?
I WANT WORLD PEACE. I THINK THE BORDER OF HATE SHOULD BE ELIMINATED
SO THAT PEOPLE WOULD LEARN TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. or I WANT TO ERASE
THE BORDER BETWEEN LA PANZA AND LA CINTURA IN ALL MAN AND WOMANKIND.
or I WANT TO ERASE THAT STUPID SLASH (/) ESA GENTE DE LA VIDA LOCA
PUT WHEN THEY SAY 'LATINA/O' or 'CHICANA/O'. IN SAYING AND BELIEVING
THUS, IN SPIRIT OF INITIATIVE AND COOPERATION, I HEREBY DECLARE
THAT I SHOULD NO LONGER BE REFERRED TO AS A CHICANO OR LATINO WRITER,
BUT INSTEAD AS A CHICANA OR LATINA WRITER/PERSON.
P.O.V.: When and how are borders useful?
Dagoberto: When they are not clashing for attention, they create
a stunning, beautiful visual contrast of color or a taste
that is like a ceviche taco with Thai sauce. If the border is a
fence that had to be climbed over, after it's been cussed and cursed
and stoned, I honor the accomplishment, as physical challenge, because
the people who have crossed it have worked harder than is common,
and have therefore become stronger and more worthy for what they
P.O.V.: This episode of P.O.V.'s Borders concentrates on borders
as a physical reality, in terms of people moving from one place
to another and having to cross mental and literal borders to do
that. What, in your experience, is the most contested border?
Dagoberto: As valuable as it is to consider a "border"
a metaphorical line that each of us crosses some of us going
back and forth easily, documented so to speak, while others meet
it by need or in dread it can be too easy to forget that
there is a real border, a real linea, a legal and political fence
that is not just a symbol, but the international divide between
the United States and Mexico. Without commenting on the necessity
or inevitablity of this border, that real linea has a history of
war and consequent subjugation and has forced the "mental"
borders of both people whose lives have descended from the Mexican
side of it and those who have not. It has been and still is the
most difficult, dangerous border in the region.
P.O.V.: Expand our borders. What's a book, movie, piece of music,
website, etc. that challenges or engages with the idea of 'borders'
that we should know about but perhaps don't?
Dagoberto: Movie: "Giant," a history of a rich Anglo Texas
and the way Mexican people were treated and thought of up into the
50s. Book: "Pedro Páramo" by Juan Rulfo. Music:
I've been listening to Esteban Jordan recently.