This Bridge Called My Back
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This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color is a feminist anthology edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa first published in 1981 by Persephone Press.
- Page numbers refer to the Fourth Edition (SUNY Press: 2015)
- Why am I compelled to write? Because the writing saves me from this complacency I fear. Because I have no choice. Because I must keep the spirit of my revolt and myself alive. Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and hunger. I write to record what others erase when I speak, to rewrite the stories others have miswritten about me, about you.
- Gloria E. Anzaldúa, "Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers," p. 166
- For a woman to be a lesbian in a male-supremacist, capitalist, misogynist, racist, homophobic, imperialist culture, such at that of North America, is an act of resistance.
- Cheryl Clarke, "Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance," p. 126
- It is inappropriate for progressive or liberal white people to expect warriors in brown armor to eradicate racism. There must be co-responsibility from people of color and white people to equally work on this issue.
- Barbara Cameron, "Gee, You Don't Seem Like An Indian," p. 46
- Grassroots feminists continue to be undermined by single-issue liberals who believe that by breaking a class-entitled glass ceiling—'beating the boys at their own game'—there is some kind of "trickle down" effect on the actual lives of workingclass and poor women and children. This is the same "trickle down" of our share of corporate profit, secured by tax benefits for the wealthy, that has yet to land on our kitchen tables, our paychecks, or our children's public school educations. Social change does not occur through tokenism or exceptions to the rule of discrimination, but through the systemic abolishment of the rule itself.
- Cherríe Moraga, "Catching Fire: Preface to the Fourth Edition," p. xvii
- In a uniquely distinct way, Audre Lorde's and Toni Cade Bambara's presence in Bridge also impacted Bridge's success. Audre and Toni were exemplary sister-writers, emblematic of that great surge of Black feminist writing spilling into our hands in 1970s and 80s. As "sisters of the yam"... they stood up in unwavering solidarity with the rest of us "sisters of the rice, sisters of the corn, sisters of the plantain" and that mattered. It helped put Bridge, coedited by two "unknown" Chicana writers, on the political-literary map. All in all, it was a brave moment in feminist history.
- Cherríe Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back 4th edition (2014)
Quotes about This Bridge Called My Back
- Haciendo Caras is more of a bridge to other racial and ethnic groups and does not address white people or try to educate them as much as Bridge does.
- Gloria E. Anzaldúa interview in Backtalk: women writers speak out by Donna Marie Perry (1993)
- Persephone Press developed an impressive booklist consisting of anthologies, fiction, and poetry. Its 1981 anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, a groundbreaking collection of writings from Chicanas, black women, and Asian and Native Americans, challenged racism within radical feminism; it remains one of the most cited books of feminist theorizing. Nice Jewish Girls similarly used the anthology format to examine contested issues within feminism, exposing multiple viewpoints of grassroots activists, writers, and scholars. Like Bridge, it enjoyed a breakthrough success, becoming an organizing tool for Jewish lesbian feminists.
- Joyce Antler Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women's Liberation Movement (2018)
- In an interview, Irena Klepfisz and Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz acknowledged that in books such as This Bridge Called My Back, "women of color laid the groundwork" for bringing cultural differences to the forefront of the feminist movement, inspiring Jewish women to explore such topics as anti-Semitism and internal oppression.
- Joyce Antler Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women's Liberation Movement (2018)
- Women of color may join together in struggle with white women against their common oppression as women. However, the racism embedded in white women's cultures may operate to silence women of color, to erase, subjugate, colonize their independent voice. The book This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color was, in part, impelled by this reality.
- Bettina Aptheker Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989)
- My own book Women, Race and Class was one of many that were published during that era, including, to name only a few, This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga, the work of bell hooks and Michelle Wallace, and the anthology All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies. So behind this concept of intersectionality is a rich history of struggle. A history of conversations among activists within movement formations, and with and among academics as well.
- Angela Davis Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement (2015) p 19
- Within Gay culture the same excellent use of separatism is happening with people of color, and people of differing ethnicities. We can thank separately founded institutions such as Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, and various Black journals, Hispanic anthologies, Jewish magazines, and most notably the anthology This Bridge Called My Back for the increasingly strong multicultural voices now gathering and being heard.
- Judy Grahn Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds (1985)
- This Bridge Called My Back, the groundbreaking collection
- Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz "Crossover Dreams" (1988) in The Issue is Power (1992)
- Cherríe Moraga's first book, co-edited with Gloria Anzaldúa, was This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, and it made history when published by Kitchen Table Press in 1981. The two pioneering lesbian authors passionately celebrated relationships between women, and their dream, as they said in their foreword to the second edition, was of "a unified Third World feminist movement in this country." Up until then you heard little, if anything, spoken publicly in Chicana/o circles about feminism, much less lesbianism. Such taboos weakened as Chicana feminism evolved in its varying forms and different camps.
- Elizabeth Martinez, De Colores Means All of Us (1998)
- An encouraging number of anthologies of writings by women of color have appeared in recent years, with This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga, leading the way. That development ended decades of invisibility. Now comes Jennifer Browdy's book, offering new reasons to celebrate.
- Elizabeth Martinez 2003 preface to Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean
- I remember that there was some resentment about the success of the book. From women of color...who saw publishing with a white women’s press or publishing and becoming famous in itself is a sort of abandonment.
- I feel This Bridge has that quality of accessibility, also. Many grassroots organizations and people who have used it seem to feel that way too. I think they are very different books because they come out of very different visions. Home Girls was originally a third world women's issue of Conditions magazine. Therefore it had, from its inception, a different, much broader focus than This Bridge, which was conceived as a collection of writing by radical women of color. So they served different kinds of functions.
- 1984 interview in Conversations with Audre Lorde (2004)
- Persephone Press was an important and successful white, lesbian, radical feminist press, founded in 1976 in Watertown, Massachusetts. The publication of This Bridge Called My Back with Persephone was made possible by the support of two key white lesbian feminist writers. Sally Gearhart, the lesbian activist and educator, had published Wanderground with Persephone Press in 1978 and brought This Bridge Called My Back (under a different title at the time) to the press's attention. Sally had been my mentor, teacher, and advisor at San Francisco State when I was in graduate school there. Around the same time, Adrienne Rich had read my essay "La Güera," which I had sent to her as the first essay written for our women-of-color collection. At this time, Rich had just written the foreword to The Coming Out Stories, to be published by Persephone in 1980 and edited by Julia Penelope and Susan Wolfe. She recommended "La Güera" for inclusion in the anthology, and also encouraged Bridge's publication with Persephone. With the support of these two writers, Bridge found a viable publisher with national distribution, and the book was published in 1981. By 1983, however, Persephone abruptly disbanded and was sold to Beacon Press. Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press (which I co-founded with Barbara Smith, Audre Lorde, Hattie Gossett, and others) was established, in part, to reissue the collection through an autonomous women-of-color enterprise. Since that time and with the closure of Kitchen Table Press, Bridge has gone in and out of print.
- Cherríe Moraga A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness (2011)
- White feminists have read and taught from the anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, yet often have perceived it simply as an angry attack on the white women's movement. So white feelings remain at the center. And, yes, I need to move outward from the base and center of my feelings, but with a corrective sense that my feelings are not the center of feminism.
- Adrienne Rich Arts of the Possible (2001)
- The pivotal anthology This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, is replete with painful, searing tales of encounters between feminists of color and Anglo liberationists.
- Vicki L. Ruiz, From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America