By Julie Avril Minich
A quantity within the American Literatures Initiative
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Extra info for Accessible Citizenships. Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico
These gendered and racialized hallucinations, which overtake her mind as her life draws to a close, demonstrate the hatred she feels for her own body. The “monster” that she births—which represents a horror of the body that sustains misogyny, heteronormativity, and the oppression of people with disabilities—appears to Miguel Chico in a dream before Mama Chona’s deathbed scene (but after her death chronologically). The monster “put his velvet paw in Miguel Chico’s hand and forced him to hold it tightly against his gut right below the appliance at his side” (159), urging Miguel Chico to jump off a bridge.
To argue, however, that the novel predicates its reformulation of Chicano nationalism on disability and privileges the queer members of the Angel family is not to argue that its principal character, Miguel Chico, is consistently positive about his ethnicity, his disability, or his queer sexuality. Miguel Chico struggles throughout the text with the impact of internalized racism, homophobia, and able-bodied supremacy. At certain points Miguel Chico’s hatred of his body is violently apparent, as in this distressing early passage: Miguel Chico did not care whether or not he survived the operation they planned for him.
Describe it. Describe it as best you can in Spanish or English or both. (“Afterword” 24) Here his emphasis on personal expression directly contradicts the injunction in El Plan for writers and artists to create “literature and art that is appealing to our people and relates to our revolutionary culture” (3). Yet despite his refusal to envision the writer as a vehicle for a singular, essentialized communal voice, and despite his brutal criticisms of Chicano nationalist writers, these essays reveal Islas to be struggling with the role of literature in the formation of community.