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Unformatted text preview: 166 Bea Medicine . 1979b. “Bilingual Education and Public Policy: The Cases of the American Indians.” In Bilingual Education and Public Policy in the United States, edited by Raymond Padilla. Ypsilanti, Michigan: Eastern Michigan University. . 1979c. “Issues in the Professionalization of Indian Women.” Paper presented to the American Psychological Association, Toronto. Metcalf, Ann. December 1978. “A Model for Treatment in a Native Ameri- can Family Service Center.” Oakland, CA; Urban Indian Child Re— source Center. Phillips, Susan. 1972. “Participant Structures and Communicative Compe- tence: Warm Springs Children in Conununity and Classroom.” In Font- tiom offset/{guano in the Classroom, edited by C. Cazden, V. Iohn, 8: D. Hymes. New York: Teacher’s College Press. Language and Female Identity in the Puerto Rican Community Ame Colin Zenrella Puerto Rican females are on the cutting edge of language change. Their many different patterns of bilingualism and bidialectalism provide a unique understanding of the role of women in the process of language change. These issues are examined here in the context of the social dimensions of Puerto Rican identity. Current statistics reveal that Puerto Ricans are the most disadvantaged ethnic group in the United States (Puerto Rican Forum 1981). In comparison with Whites, Blacks, Mexican-Americans and others, Puerto Rieans as a group have the highest percentage of families living below the poverty level, the highest percentage of families with children living in poverty, the lowest participation in the labor force, and die lowest median income. Instead of improving, the socioeconomic situation ofPuerto Ricans over the last decade has deteriorated. In 1975, die median income of Puerto Ricans was 59% of the national median income, but in 1985, Pucrto Ricans earned only 47% of the national incomefl—a 12% drop in ten years. The most disadvantaged members of the most disadvantaged group are Puerto Rican women, 62% of whom earn less than $5,000 per year. In the crucial area of job experience, Puerto Rican women are the least likely of Hispanic women to have had work experience. Today the number of Puerto Rican women over fourteen years of age in the labor force is roughly one-half that of other Hispanics. Compounding this lack of access to jobs is the fact that'twice as many Puerto Rican families (41%) are headed by women as other Hispanic families (Hispanic Research Center l984). Although researchers have begun to document the desperate socioeco- nomic conditions that most Puerto Rican and other Hispanic women endure, they have yet to explore the reasons why these conditions exist from the point of view of a comprehensive analytical framework. Most of the scarce research available has as its point of departure a static view of Hispanic culture that is divorced from the socioeconomic realities in which the cultural group is 167 lots Ana Celia Zentella acting and reacting. As result, study after study seems repetitively similar as each of them probes the source of the problems faced by Hispanic women .- (Andrade 1982). The “causes” which are frequently pinpointed include the Hispanic male’s niachismo, the Roman Catholic Church’s focus on female self-sacrifice, and the fatalism and personalism of the Spanish heritage. The - “conclusions” of these studies seem very convincing, since the structure of both the Hispanic family and the Church favor male development and female underdeveIopment. At first glance, it seems logical to explain the Puerto Rican femalc’s dismal statistics as a result of her learned gender roles. Andrade (1982) has documented at least four recurrent problems with the research which has isolated culture as the crucial variable in the study of Latina women: the view of the culture is too homogeneous, the research is ethnocentrically biased, the samples are small and limited to single communi- ties, and the methodology is culturally inappropriate. Moreover, it is un- doubtedly true that culture does play a role, and a significant one, but it alone does not determine Puerto Rican behavior and conditions. Latinas in the United States do not live in test tubes isolated from the conflicting influences of the socioeconomic structures around them, as illustrated by the changing nature of the labor market and the use of welfare for social control. Neither are Puerto Rican women immune to the effects of class, race, national origin, and linguistic difftrences. Identity Conflicts: Nationality, Race, Language The problems that Puerto Ricans share with all lower working class people are exacerbated by identity conflicts which are triggered by such forces as the colonial status of Puerto Rico, racism, and feelings of linguisrie inferiority. Puerto Ricans are prevented from achieving goals they set for themselves because they are made to feel in conflict with who they are, what color they are, and what language they should speak. This negative impact is likely to be more severe in each of these areas on Pucrto Rican women than on men because each corresponds to a domain that is traditionally considered female. The impact ofPuerto Rican migration on national identity is central to the identity crisis. Every group of migrants suffers the trauma ofuprooting and the consequences of cultural conflict, but the Puerto Rican migration is unique even among Hispanic groups in one fundamental way: the United States1 control of the governmental, education, and linguistic policies affect- ing Puerto Ricans predates their arrival in the United States. Since Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898, Puerto Ricans born in the United States or on the island are citizens of the United States from birth. As a result, American citizenship conflicts with Puerto Rican identity The Puerto Rican Community 169 even in the native land. But as far as the definition of identity is concerned, most Puerto Rican parents raise their children to believe that those who are born in Puerto Rico are Puerto Ricans and those who are born in the United States are “American.” This cleavage within families—often based on acci- dents of birth, given the massive back and forth migration-—contribute to the confusion of the children, especially if they find that they are not perceived as “real” Americans by others. The effect on women, because they are most frequently linked in poetry and politics to the “motherland,” is pronounced. Thus, there is confusion over WllATAM I? PUERTO RICAN OR AMERI- CAN? ‘ The racial aspect of the identity crisis that young Puerto Ricans in the United States race is shared by all other peoples of color, but it conflicts with traditional Puerto Rican values. Here in the United States, Puerto Ricans learn that United States racial categories convert Hispanic culture into a race—a nonwhite race—“when they are asked to select among Black-White Other, or Black-WhitesHispanic, on census and other questionnaires. Such classifications ignore the fact that, unlike the United States, where genotypic theories classify persons with one drop of Black blood as Black, Hispanics are a mixture of three races. In contrast, in Puerto Rico, people with fair features are considered “blancos” (‘white‘), those whose features are African are con- sidered “negros” (‘Blaclt’), and the more prevalent combinations of these groups and others, including Native Americans and Asians, are recognized with a multitude of terms, for example, “tregeno” (‘olive skinned’), “indio” (‘lndiaii’}, and various mixtures of black and white, such as “grifo,” “jabao,” L"mulato," “moreno,” and so on. Whereas racial identification supercedes cultural identity in the United States, the reverse is true for Latin America, where people ai‘c identified primarily by their culture (Rodriquez 1989). This inversion of the primary factors of identification contributes to the identity conflict of Hispanics in the United States, particularly among the second‘ generation and among females, who are more concerned about standards of beauty. A darker-skinned male is less exposed to the tyranny of “hay que mejorar la raza” (‘wc must better the racc’), that is, by marrying’a light- skinned rather than a dark-skinned female. In short, there is confusmn over WHAT COLOR AM 1? WHITE OR BLACK? In response to the three-way conflicting pressures they feel between their parents’ cultural identity, the United States denigration of blackness, and the Afro-American reaffirmation of Black pride, many Puerto Rican youth of all complexions have chosen to identify themselves as neither White nor Black but as “nonwhite”. These identity conflicts are further exemplified by the linguistic insecurity resulting from consistent attacks on me way Puerto Ricans speak. One of the most effective lessons that Puerto Rican children learn in United States classrooms is to be ashamed of the variety of Spanish spoken both in their I m Ana Celia Zentella native land and in their home by their parents. This is achieved through such praCtices as constant correction and denunciation of Puerto Rican Spanish pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Puerto Ricans are told that they speak a dialect of Spanish that is not “real” Spanish, harkening back to the antilinguistic postures held by the first United States colonial administrators of the island who were horrified when they did not find Puerto Ricans speaking the Spanish of Castile (chtella 1981a). Today’s detractors are as unaware as the first colonial administrators were oi” basic notions ol‘language variety and its social correlates. Speakers ofevery language share certain licatures of pronunciation, grammar, and word forma- tion with others in their community, and these become important symbols of membership in a particular group. This variety is what is meant by the word dialect; dialects distinguish each geographical region, class, ethnic group, and race from others. Just as people of Great Britain say “flat” and “qestionnaire” for what North Americans call apartment and pronounce “questionnaire,” l‘uerto Ricans say “china” and “graciah” instead of “naranja” and “gracias.” Except in the minds ot'some arch anglophiles, British English is not consid- ered superior to American English. Similarly, Puetro Rican Spanish should not be considered inferior to any other Spanish dialect. l‘uerto Ricans in the United States are caught in a linguistic double bind; their Spanish is considered unacceptable and so is their English. Many New Yorkers with characteristic New York accents ridicule the Spanish accented English ot'islaiid—born and island-reared I’uerto Ricans, and qualified teacher applicants from this group have received poor grades on the New York City Board of Education‘s oral exam because of their accents. Puerto Ricans are not blind to the fact that while many North Americans consider French and other accents of English elegant, Spanish accents are often considered laugh- able or repulsive. Inevitably, the adults lose confidence in their ability to speak and learn English, and their children——the second generation—learn to be ashamed of their parents because of the latter’s accents. Many parents, par» tieularly mothers, must depend on young children to negotiate for them in their encounters with bureaucracies. Such experiences tear at the strong fam- ily fabric that is characteristic ol‘l’uerto Rlean culture, and they help destroy traditional notions of “respeto” (‘rcspect’) in adult-child relationships. Yet another aspect of Puerto Rican English that is subjected to attack is the assimilation of the second generation‘s English to the surrounding Black dialect (Wolfram 1973). Many young l’uerto Ricans learn to speak like the Alto-Fmiericans with whom they share the schools and ghettoes. These Puer- to Ric-an youngsters become the object of a new epithet: “You sound like a spic” is replaced by “you sound like a nigger.” Males tend to adopt Black street speech more readily than females because of its covert prestige as rough and masculine; Females tend to use the local white vernacular dialect in their The Puerto Rican Community 171 formal s eakin 5 le (Poplack 1981). Thus, there is confusion over WHICH LANGIEAGE §H%ULD I SPEAK, SPANISH OR ENGLISH? WHICH SPANISH SHOULD I SPEAK, PUERTO RICO’S OR SPAIN’S? WHICH ENGLISH SHOULD I SPEAK, BLACK OR WHITE? Language Socialization in El Barrio In East Harlem, New York City—the Puerto Rican community known as El Barrio—where I conducted research between 1.978 and 1981 (chtella 1981), children are exposed to a very rich linguistic environment. There is constant activity and interaction in varieties of Spanish and English. In the midst of overflowing garbage cans, ripped out doorways, and gaping mail- boxes, several intimate social networks gather against the backdrop of tene- ments and housing projects. Age and gender are the bane linking factors in these social networks for both children and adults, and each one IS identified with Spanish or English. Each network established hy- age and gender has its own favorite space and time on the block for socializing, and good weather brings everyone down to “janguear” (‘hangout’) for a while. When the wom- en between forty and sixty years of age take time out between their household chores to chat, they congregate in the hallway vestibules that house the mailboxes and face the street. Their conversations are in panish because they are Spanish dominant. Some are monolingual. The Spanish-dominant men of the same age stand or sit around a domino table apd‘ parked cars located in front of the “bodega” (‘grocery store’) and “banca ( numbers parlor’). The “young dudes” in their early twenties are English dominant. Lovers of disco and salsa music, they lean against parked cars or stand outSIde yideo arcades with their “boxes” (large radios). The y0unger mothers- are English-dominant women in their late teens and early twenties who sometimes lean against omet cars or sit on the narrow stoops or steps of the tenements, or on park benches, with their baby carriages alongside. Teenagers congregate in‘ the video arcade along with Afro-Americans or move to sit on cars during private discussions. The young children (three to twelve-year-olds) have the run of the area in Front of their building. They whirl about from one area to the next and thus are always subject to the supervision of one of the networks. As a result, the childrenrare intermittently addressed by monolingual standard orlnonstan- dard Spanish speakers, monolingual standard and nonstandard English speak- ers, and by bilingual and bidialcctal speakers of both languages: because of the linguisric diversity on the block, the children grow up to be bilingual and bidialectal. I I Firm-generation adults from the island‘s larger towns and from families better off man most constitute one segment of the community. Because they 1?2 Ana Celia Zentella were privileged enough to be able to pursue their education beyond the elementary grades, they speak the standard Spanish of Puerto Rico (referred to as PRS from here on). Other block residents who were born and raised of poorer families in Puerto Rico, often from rural areas, share most pronunci- ation features with their more educated neighbors, along with a few nonstan- dard characteristics such as the substitution of “l” for “r” at the end 0 syllables, for example, “coltal” for “cortar” (‘to cut’). The second-generation children of both groups tend to speak more English than Spanish; thus their Spgnish vocabulary and grarrunar are more heavily influenced bv English. I here 15 a greater divergence in the varieties of English spoken tin the block than in the varieties ofSpanish. Both first and second generations speak PR5 but those who were reared in Puerto Rico speak a variety ofEnglish which i; marked by Spanish—language interference phenomena, while the second gen- eration speaks two kinds of nonstandard English: Puerto Rican English (FIRE) andlor Black English Vernacular (BEV) (Wolfram 1974). PRE is the prn‘iCipal linguistic code shared by those who were born and raised in the United States. Despite the fact that each social network is generally identifi- able by one code only, (eg, older females with PRS, voung dudes with BEV and elementary school—age children with PRE), members often speak mort: than one variety, depending on interlocutors and speech situations. Dialeetal varration is charactrisric of many speakers on the block. With such language diversity on the block, how do children decide what to speak to whom? Children learn to respond to older adults in accordance with the community norm “Speak the language spoken to you,” which is required by both the presence of monolinguals and the cultural importance of “re- speto” (‘respect’). it is more likely that female children are expected to comply with this norm than males because “respeto” implies notions of politeness apd polite behavior is expected of females in most cultures (Brown 1980)? 1 hus, it is more polite to address others, especially adults, in the language they know best. The girls who were the main subjects of my research developed fairly accurate strategies for identifying the primary or dominant language of people whom they did not know. Specifically, thev used three reference pornts: the physical characteristics that distinguish Pherto Ricans and other Latin Americans from North Americans, the age—related classification that assumes infants and the elderly speak only Spanish and all others know English, and the gender—related patterns that link women with speaking Spanish and men with speaking English. Differences in bilingual language behavior and proficiency can be account- ed for by many variables (Zentella in press), but the socialization of Puerto Ric-an children into appropriate female and male roles is particularly signifi- cant. This process provides girls with more exposure to and participation in Spanish than their brothers, for example, greater testriCtion to the house and“ The Puerto Rican Community 173 or mother, play and friendships with females, caretaking responsibilities with infants, attendance at Spanish religious services, and inclusion in female dis- cussions and activities like cooking, cleaning, sewing, taking clothes to the laundromat, and watching the “novela” (‘soap opera’). Distinct periods in the maturation process favor one language or another, or the ability to switch from one to another (Flores et al 1983). As children go through school, English becomes their dominant language; as they accompany their mother in her round of appointments at hospitals, agencies, schools, and so on they become keenly aware of the survival value of English in the world of educa- tion, housing, social services, and employment. Female teens become particu- larly adept at alternating between Spanish and English to maneuver in public and private domains and to accomplish varied discourse objectives (see code— switehing below). Young mothers are reintegrated into the older women’s Spanish-speaking network as they discuss childbearing and take up the re- sponsibilities of home management. Thus, the older a woman gets in the community, the more Spanish she is likely to use. Twenty~year—old Vicky was typical of many of the young women in this regard. She was born and raised in New York City and had never been to Puerto Rico, but her parents were Spanish dominant and spoke to her in Spanish. Vicky answered in Spanish and English, but was much more fluent in the latter; she spoke English to her sisters and brothers and close friends. When she met and fell in love widi Tito, another Puerto Rican born and raised in New York City, she spoke English to him and his sisters and broth- ers, but Spanish to his monolingual mother. When they married and had children, Vicky was in daily contact with her mother-in-law because they lived in the same building, and she became a regular participant in her mother-in- law‘s network of older women who offered advice, recipes, first aid, and spiritual support. When their son Eddie was born, Vicky and Tito spoke to him in English, but Eddie was always around his modter when she was speaking Spanish to the older women. She believed that her children should speak the language which the person they were talking to spoke best, but because Eddie’s Spanish was very limited, this was not enforced. When it became obvious that Eddie had some difficulty speaking, his mother ex- pressed the opinion that there should be no restrictions on her son’s choice of language; her overriding concern was that he speak the language that he knew best, which was English. Eddie’s gender, his young age, and his speech problem absolved him from the community norm that requires children to speak the best language of their addressee. Vicky’s position may change as Eddie grows, if his English becomes clearer, and if he learns Spanish. Significantly, Vicky’s own Spanish fluency is increasing as she takes on the duties of older women, for example, attending family funerals in Puerto Rico, and she gradually becomes part of their l?-l Ana Celia Zentella network. This, in turn, may Strengthen her children’s knowledge ofSpanish. ' On the other hand, she may be joined by the mothers of other third-genera» tion children who may reject the “best language of your addressee” norm as an imposition andi’or interference with the child’s linguistic development. Schools play a big role in the oration of these attitudes because, contrary to the research linking bilingualism to greater cognitive and verbal flexibility, several mothers have been told by teachers that speaking to the children in two languages will impede their language development. There are already some children on the block, like Eddie, whose Spanish is so limited that they have a hard time addressing each interlocutor in the proper language; but most make some attempt to do so. Very often children manage greetings and routine exchanges in Spanish, but switch to English shortly thereafter. What are the cultural implications ofthc children’s increased dominance in English? Will Puerto Ricans share the fate of other linguistic minorities who have lost their mother tongue by the third generation? The preeminent role of women in child rearing, their immersion in Spanish-linked activities, their responsi- bility for contacts with the family in Puerto Rico, and the traditional associ- ation of the home or “we” language with feelings of personal intimacy and group solidarity, make women the culture bearers, that is, those given most responsibility for maintenance of the home language and cultural survival. Puerto Rican Cultural Identity and Language Principal responsibility for the maintenance of the Spanish language places a heavy burden on Puerto Rican females. Given the influence of more than four hundred years of Spanish rule, the United States’ imposition of English, and die lack of other means of national identity, the survival of Spanish has become inextricably linked for many with the survival of Puerto Rican identi- ty and that of the Puerto Rican nation itself. As one United States Puerto Rican sociologist explained it, “To be Puerto Rican is to be inseparable from your language, so it is particularly offensive to any Puerto Rican to listen to anyone who claims to be Puerto Rican and does not know the language” (lletances quoted by Ghigliliotty 1983). Paralleling the consistent identifica- tion of Puerto Rican identity with the Spanish language is a concern for the repercussions of extended contact with English. Many of the island’s intellec- tuals and others believe that English has had a continuously deteriorating effect on the Spanish of the island and that Puerto Rico’s national identity itself is being threatened. This debate is especially heated and guarded when returnees—those who have lived in the United States and returned to Puerto Rico—are considered. The Puerto Rican Community 175 The widespread interest in the returned migrant “problem” and the increased intensity of the attacks on Spanish and English in the island’s media do not appear to be disconnected. The returnees too have strong views on the matter. In a recent study conducted by the author (ZentCUa 1986), forty- thtee bilingual teens (twenty-three females, twenty males) who had returned to Puerto Rico and were in high school were queried about their View of their use of Spanish. More than 87% of them rejected the idea that they are negatively influencing the island’s Spanish, and 76% of them said that they were not damaging the English language either. Those who agreed that they Were having a deleterious impact on the languages could mention only slang words as evidence, obviously confusing lexical variation with deterioration. Another more fundamental insight was gleaned from their position on the link between language and culture. . ‘ I ‘ When interviewed about the fiature of Spanish in Puerto Rico, approxi- mately 40% of the teen returnees who were surveyed agreed with the predic- tion that Spanish would not be spoken on the island in fifty years. The majority were not distressed by the prospect of a non~Spanish-speakmg l’uer- to Rico in the future. Fifty-six % stated that it would not bother them if the prediction mentioned previously came true. Young Puerto Poems in Puerto Rico have obviously extended the New York Puerto Ricans’ acceptance of a Puerto Rican identity without Spanish (Attinasi 1989). This IVICW is not popular in Puerto Rico’s academic, artiStic, or political Circles; it. is vehement- ly rejected by those whose every fiber cries out against the v1510n of non- Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico. But any analysls of the returner: versus island~ er conflict must be viewed in the context of the political and economic forces that have resulted in the massive displacement and replacement of Puerto Rican people from their island. A people’s language, attitudes, and behav10r are shaped by the nature of their experiences With the soc1al structure around them and the roles they are forced to play in it. Adolescents, particularly females, caught in the middle of the transfer of people and payments can be expected to reflect this conflict in their notions of identity and‘language. They attempt to resolve the conflict via their comrriitment to bilingualism and biculturalism, only to encounter hostility to this solution both in the United States and in Puerto Rico. 1 Our survey of language attitudes held by adolescent returnees in Puerto Rico revealed some interesting differences between males and females. Al- though the majority of both sexes agreed on most questions, females were more conservative in matters of language loyalty. For example, the only respondents who stated that English monolinguals could not be considered Puerto Rican were women. Also, females supported the notion that Spanish is indispensable to Puerto Rican identity more than did the males (48% versus 30%). Although the women were equally divided as to whether they would I76 Ana Celia Zentella care if Spanish were spoken in I’uerto Rico in fifty years, the men showed less ambivalence; 67% of them would not care. Our sample was too limited to allow us to assert that language loyalty is stronger among Puerto Ric-an bilingual females than males. There is, how- ever, enough sociolinguistic evidence about female participation in the main- tenance of appropriate linguistic norms in other communities to make us confident that further investigation will corroborate our tentative findings (Labov 1972; Trudgill 193%). Sociolinguistic research on gender and lan- guage suggests that women are more aware than men of the link between social status and speech. This may be so becaue it constitutes important knowledge for those responsible for preparing children to succeed. In this way, women serve as proprietors of the standard dialect. One reflection of women’s sensitivity to the issues of language and class is the fact that women are more resistant to changing their way ofspeaking iflinguistlc change in the community is moving away from the prestige norm. For example, ifa com- munity begins to pronounce a word differently, women will continue using the original pronunciation longer than men. On the other hand, women are usually the leaders oflinguistic changes that correlate to ptesfigious ways of speaking or a prestigious language varety. As one example, educated South- ern women are now using more “r’s” after vowels in their speech than male Southerners—cg, “car” (Nichols 1974). In sum, women are alert to the approPriate norms which may be the most conservative in the conununity or the ones on the cutting edge of change. In either case, they seem to take the language pulse of the community and guide their children accordingly. In the New York Puerto Rican comn‘ninity1 women who are faithful to their tradi- tional role as keepers of the culture speak more Spanish and express more loyalty to it, but they also adapt to the need of the English-dominant society by becoming fluent bilinguals and proficient code-switchers. Code-switching is the bilingual alternation of words, phrases, and sen- tences. Unfortunately. it is the most misunderstood behavior in language minority communities in the United States. Perhaps the most frequent liti- guistic accusation hurled at young Puerto Ricans in the United States is that they speak neither English nor Spanish, but Spanglish, meaning a haphazard mixture of which they in turn become ashamed. In fact, as children develop the ability to switch between the sounds and grammars of the two languages which they know in Order to address different people, they also learn to extend this ability to switch for stylistic purposes and to accomplish it within the boundaries ofa sentence (Zentella 1983). Often code-switching is misin- terpreted as evidence of a lack of linguistic knowledge, but a spate of recent research has proved that switching serves many significant social and dis- course functions beyond that of filling in forgotten words or phrases (see collection in Duran 1981). Nor does code-switching signal the deterioration The Puerto Rican Community 177 ofone or both of the languages involved; in facr, switchers display formidable knowledge of sentence structure (Poplack 1979; Sankoff and Poplack 1980). in a bilingual community such as El Barrio, code-switching allows Puerto Ricans to make a graphic statement about the way they live with a foot in each of“Dos Worldsffwo Mundos,” as the title of I’adron’s (1983) poem reflects. Our data and that of the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquefios (Poplack 1981) showed that the most prolific intrascntential code-switchers were also the best speakers of English and Spanish, and that these were usually women. This evidence contradicts Robin Lakoff’s contention that switchers never become fluent in either ofdaeir codes and mat they waste time and energy in deciding which code is appropriate for each situation (Lakoff 1975). Lakoff was referring to monolingual women who learn to switch between speech styles because they are criticized as weak when they “talk like ladies” but are in turn labeled “unfcmininc” when they do not. This analogy is also applicable to bilingual code-switchers in the Hispanic community. The very survival of Puerto Rican children often depends on how they present themselves and how they speak. The responsibility for such rearing is placed squarely on the shoulders of women, both by the traditional culture and the sexist divisions of labor in the United States. The situation is aggravated by the fact that almost one-half of the families are headed by women alone. If Lakoff is right, the Puerto Rican woman’s concern about maintaining the home culture and preparing her children for the dominant outside culture, about being prof - cient in both English and Spanish and switching between both, can be debili- tating and stress producing. This is the stereotypic picture painted in the research that was discussed at the beginning of this essay. But contrary to prevalent stereotypes, the reality is that most Puerto Rican women do succeed in raising their children to be healthy people, despite the triple jeopardy of gender, race, and class, and despite the conflicts about national origin and linguistic and cultural differences. When we seek out the wellsprings of the coping strength of these women, we find that bilingualism and code-switch- ing are vital. Neither the maintenance of Spanish nor the ability to code- switch have a noxious effect on the development of the individual or the community, except when these are accorded differential power and respect by the dominant society. Like their Taino, Spanish, and African sisters before diern, todast Puerto Rican female survivors turn what others see as their liabilities into their strengths. For many of flame who “make it,” poverty, racial mixture, female status, and linguistic difference become sources of power and confidence. Accordingly, such women can represent a vital contri- bution to the achievement of greater equality in the United States. The appreciation that Puerto Rican women have of the value of bilingualism and their commitment to cultural pluralism has led them to the leadership of the movement for equity and excellence in education via the bilingual model. l 78 Ana Celia Zentella Similarly, their survival in alien institutions can help to teach poor childre overcome formidable obstacles, and their mixed Indian African and Eur;1 I: an blood can help bridge the United States polarization benveen black :fi'id white. Their ability to speak bodi Spanish and English is an invaluable asset as the}; struggle to survive in their two worlds and to accomplish these laudable goa 5. 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