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Chicana poet and writer Ana Castillo was born and raised in Chicago but has spent most of her writing career studying her Mestiza heritage In her first novel The Mixquiahuala Letters 1986 Castillo explores the relationship between two women who travel to Mexico in search of a better understanding of their place in both the US and Mexican societies The novel written in the form of letters between the two women is considered the landmark novel that made Castillo a leading Chicana feminista writer winning the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation Castillos interest in race and gender issues can be traced through her writing career culminating in Massacre of the Dreamers Essays on Xicanisma published in 1994 In this collection of essays Castillo explores the notion of Xicanisma a term she herself created in order to give name to the struggles of Brown women in the racially polarized US In the US much debate of racism becomes constructed in a Black-White paradigm leaving little room for others In Massacre of the Dreamers Castillo explores the Chicana feminist movement of the 70s and where that movement is headed Castillo notes that US history especially seems to neglect the struggles of Mexico and the indigenous peoples who became involuntary migrants into what is now the Southwestern US By exploring the history of Mexico and Central America Castillo hopes to integrate ideas about the patriarchy and oppression of these societies with that of the United States looking at how Brown women must cope in both societies Castillo was schooled in Chicago for the most part attending the Chicago City College for two years before entering Northwestern Illinois University Here she received her BA in art After receiving her degree in 1975 Castillo moved to Sonoma County California to teach In 1977 she moved back to Chicago and earned an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Chicago Throughout this
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