American writer and activist (born 1952)
Cherríe Moraga (September 25, 1952) is a Chicana writer, feminist activist, poet, essayist, and playwright.
- The amazing efficacy of patriarchy is that it is a covert operation. It is entre nos, just between us - man and woman, sister and brother, father and daughter, queer and not so queer. It takes place behind closed doors, inside la hacienda and back there in the slave quarters. It is so seamlessly woven into the fiber of our lives that to pull at that dangling thread of inequity is to rip open an entire life.
- Native Country of the Heart: A Memoir (2019)
- Both my essays and plays attempt to explore a political question or contradiction through the mind or the heart. By that I mean, both genres require analysis and a heart-felt honesty. But the essay is fundamentally one-voiced perspective, my own…
- On her general distinctions between essays and plays in “VG Interview: Cherrie Moraga” (University of Minnesota: Voices from the Gap; January 2000)
- …The road that I have walked in my life as a mixed blood Chicana and as a lesbian has more and more put me…(pause) I am always the blood quantum that I am. But culturally and the life that I’ve lived and the values with which I’ve raised my own children , the relationship I have with my family and my partner and all those other things is pretty Chicano. So I don’t feel like it’s prescriptive – how one deals with being biracial. When I said I refuse the split, I really felt like typically what happens in a white dominated society is that you’re encouraged to assimilate anyway. So as a mixed blood person, you can get an incredible amount of benefits from that assimilation…
- On debate regarding assimilation and cultural authenticity in “Interview with Cherrie Morraga [sic]” in Divisadero (Spring 2012)
- After publishing Loving in the War Years (1983) which was very autobiographical, my own story had finally been told on the page. This allowed space within me for character (some one other than myself to enter) my unconscious…
- On her foray into drama in “VG Interview: Cherrie Moraga” (University of Minnesota: Voices from the Gap; January 2000)
- …It’s more that the conventionality of the model makes it a domesticized view of desire and also that really what we want is the same things as heterosexuals: the nuclear family, marriage; all of these components which from a feminist perspective we’ve already critiqued. Not every lesbian is a feminist, but if every lesbian were a feminist they shouldn’t want this either, because it really contradicts a whole movement that critiqued the nuclear family and the hierarchy of the nuclear family…
- On how she believes that queer sexuality is at odds with the notion of gay marriage in “Interview with Cherrie Morraga [sic]” in Divisadero (Spring 2012)
- I don’t think femme-butch categories necessarily reproduce male-female gender relations and stereotypes about lesbians. I’m not sure Medea really thinks this either, but she does get angry at Luna when she perceives her as trying to act like a man and then resents Luna when she does not assume the power of a man. In other words, she is confused and a realistic, frightened character, afraid of losing her son and her land forever.
- On her character Medea in The Hungry Woman in “VG Interview: Cherrie Moraga” (University of Minnesota: Voices from the Gap; January 2000)
- Class, I think its class above all else. Because the way class operates in this country is related to race. What I have noticed is that when white women and white lesbians relate to women of color what they’re really sort of connecting with is that they’re middle class. What really divides queer people in general not just lesbians is class. If you look at working class lesbians, including white women, that’s a really different world…
- On how lesbianism is shaped by class in “Interview with Cherrie Morraga [sic]” in Divisadero (Spring 2012)
- I still believe in a Chicano literature that is hungry for change, that has the courage to name the sources of our discontent both from within our raza and without, that challenges us to envision a world where poverty, crack, and pesticide poisoning are not endemic to people with dark skin and Spanish surnames
- From The Last Generation, quoted in De Colores Means All of Us by Elizabeth Martinez (2017)
- I read all the work of white women and the "bibles" of feminism, Marxist feminism, radical feminism, and social feminism. They were all providing a base of analysis for me to understand feminism and to figure out how Marxism coheres with that or how it doesn't. I wanted to get a handle on understanding my own oppression, the oppression of the women around me, and of my culture. So what happens is that you read all that stuff, and then you ask, What's missing in the picture? That's what then made me primarily reflect on black feminism. By and large, black feminists at that time were not writing theory, with some exceptions, of course. I was reading the poets and the novelists like Toni Morrison, Pat Parker, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker. I read Walker's Meridian in the early days. At that time black feminists were the only ones who were articulating a kind of class, race, and gender analysis. So that's sort of your natural progression. You think about what is missing in that picture, and you bring it to your own kind. Those were my first influences. In recent years I read much more Native American women's work than anything else; for example, Leslie Marmon Silko and Linda Hogan. I feel an affinity within to these women's work. Their writings run closer to the Chicano experience, given the fact that we both have native roots here in the United States.
- Interview in Chicana Ways (2002)
- I thought I knew my history, but 500 Years taught me more than I could imagine. In these pages, La Chicana emerges from historical erasure as spirit-warrior, artist, and revolucionaria. This book won't rest quietly on a coffee table, but belongs on the kitchen table, in the factory lunch-room, the school library, the clinic waiting room, the painter's studio. It is a book to be used, to remember and record Chicanas struggling to make home in our Native América.
- in 500 Years of Chicana Women's History by Elizabeth Martinez
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Fourth Edition (2015) edit
- When I finally lifted the lid to my lesbianism, a profound connection with my mother reawakened in me. It wasn't until I acknowledged and confronted my own lesbianism in the flesh, that my heartfelt identification with and empathy for my mother's oppression-due to being poor, uneducated, and Chicana-was realized. My lesbianism is the avenue through which I have learned the most about silence and oppression, and it continues to be the most tactile reminder to me that we are not free human beings.
- Within the context of the late 1970s utterly white-middleclass-dominated genre of feminist writings (mediated by white instructors), Bridge was the logical and necessary critical outcome to my feminist studies. The book was an enormous collective "fill in the blank"-of so much that had been missing in my own education. It was what never appeared on a reading list. (2014)
- What drew me to politics was my love of women, the agony I felt in observing the straight-jackets of poverty and repression I saw in my own family. But the deepest political tragedy I have experienced is how with such grace, such blind faith, this commitment to women in the feminist movement grew to be exclusive and reactionary. I call my white sisters on this. I have had enough of this. And I am involved in this book because more than anything else I need to feel enlivened again in a movement that can finally, as my friend Amber Hollibaugh states, 'ask the right questions and admit to not having all the answers.'
- Sometimes in the face of my own/our own limitations, in the face of such world-wide suffering, I doubt even the significance of books. Surely this is the same predicament so many people who have tried to use words as weapons have found themselves in-Cara a cara con el enemigo, qué valen mis palabras? This is especially true for Third World women writers, who know full well our writings seldom directly reach the people we grew up with. Sometimes knowing this makes you feel like you're dumping your words into a very deep and very dark hole. But we continue to write-to the literate of our people and the people they touch. We even write to those classes of people for whom books have been as common to their lives as bread. For finally, we write to anyone who will listen with their ears open (even if only a crack) to the currents of change around them. The political writer, then, is the ultimate optimist, believing people are capable of change and using words as one way to try and penetrate the privatism of our lives. A privatism which keeps us back and away from each other, which renders us politically useless. (1983)
- Coming to terms with the suffering of others has never meant looking away from our own. (1983)
- to change the world, we have to change ourselves-even sometimes out most cherished, block-hard convictions. I must confess I hate the thought of this. Change don't come easy. For anyone. But this state of war we live in, this world on fire, provides us with no other choice. (1983)
- My real politicization began, not through the Chicano Movement but through the bold recognition of my lesbianism
- The danger lies in attempting to deal with oppression from a theoretical base. Without an emotional, heartfelt grappling with the source of our own oppression, without naming the enemy within ourselves and outside of us, no authentic, non-hierarchical connection among oppressed groups can take place.
- What grew from from that discussion was the realization that in order for him to create an authentic alliance with me, he must deal with the primary source of his own sense of oppression. He must, first, emotionally come to terms with what it feels like to be a victim. If he-or anyone-were to truly do this, it would be impossible to discount the oppression of others, except by again forgetting how we have been hurt. And yet, oppressed groups are forgetting all the time. There are instances of this in the rising Black middle class, and certainly an obvious trend of such "unconsciousness" among white gay men. Because to remember may mean giving up whatever privileges we have managed to squeeze out of this society by virtue of our gender, race, class, or sexuality.
- it wasn't until long after my graduation from the private college I'd attended in Los Angeles, that I realized the major reason for my total alienation classmates was rooted in class and culture. CLICK.
- What the oppressor often succeeds in doing is simply externalizing his fears, projecting them into the bodies of women, Asians, gays, disabled folks, whoever seems most "other."
- But it is not really difference the oppressor fears so much as similarity. He fears he will discover in himself the same aches, the same longings as those of the people he has shitted on. He fears the immobilization threatened by his own own incipient guilt. He fears he will have to change his life once he has seen himself in the bodies of the people he has called different. He fears the hatred, anger, and vengeance of those he has hurt.
- my deepest sense of myself has not quite "caught up" with my "woman-identified" politics
- Time and time again, I have observed that the usual response among white women's groups when the "racism issue" comes up is to deny the difference. I have heard comments like, "Well, we're open to all women; why don't they (women of color) come? You can only do so much..." But there is seldom any analysis of how the very nature and structure of the group itself may be founded on racist or classist assumptions. More important, so often the women seem to feel no loss, no lack, no absence when women of color are not involved; therefore, there is little desire to change the situation. This has hurt me deeply. I have come to believe that the only reason women of a privileged class will dare to look at how it is that they oppress, is when they've come to know the meaning of their own oppression. And understand that the oppression of others hurts them personally.
- I think: what is my responsibility to my roots-both white and brown, Spanish-speaking and English? I am a woman with a foot in both worlds; and I refuse the split. I feel the necessity for dialogue. Sometimes I feel it urgently
- I keep wanting to repeat over and over and over again, the pain and shock of difference, the joy of commonness, the exhilaration of meeting through incredible odds against it.
- I am not talking here about some lazy faith, where we resign ourselves to the tragic splittings in our lives with an upward turn of the hands or a vicious beating of our breasts. I am talking about believing that we have the power to actually transform our experience, change our lives, save our lives. Otherwise, why this book? It is the faith of activists I am talking about.
- Silence is like starvation.
- The "unknown" is often depicted in racist literature as the "darkness" within a person. Similarly, sexist writers will refer to fear in the form of the vagina, calling it "the orifice of death." In contrast, it is a pleasure to read works such as Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior, where fear and alienation are described as "the white ghosts." And yet, the bulk of literature in this country reinforces the myth that what is dark and female is evil. Consequently, each of us-whether dark, female, or both-has in some way internalized this oppressive imagery. What the oppressor often succeeds in doing is simply externalizing his fears, projecting them into the bodies of women, Asians, gays, disabled folks, whoever seems most "other."
A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness (2011) edit
- I urge my students que se aprovechen el momento of their college years; to look beyond conventional career-oriented concerns toward something deeper, toward the discomfort and wonder of real conciencia, which comes, as the educator Paulo Freire understood, through a self-determined, self-defined education. I never let my students forget that their elite education wants them to do otherwise, to look away from the pueblo-self as the source of knowing. Through the practice of creative writing, I have found students uncovering glimpses of knowledges heretofore obscured and untouched.
- Maybe to the young ones, I simply want to say, "Work tirelessly when your bodies do not yet ache at night. Do not waste your lives, your good health, strong bones, and resilient muscles. Use them." (p33)
- the conditions of invasion, war, and terrorism have existed for people of color in this hemisphere since the mistaken arrival of Columbus to our shores.
"Art in America, Con Acento" (1992) edit
Anthologized in Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean edited by Jennifer Browdy
- How can I, as a Latina, identify with those who invade Latin American land? George Bush is not my leader. I did not elect him, although my tax dollars pay for the Salvadoran Army's guns. We are a living breathing contradiction, we who live en las entrañas del monstruo, but I refuse to be forced to identify. I am the product of invasion. My father is Anglo; my mother, Mexican. I am the result of the dissolution of bloodlines and the theft of language; and yet, I am a testimony to the failure of the United States to wholly anglicize its mestizo citizens.
- Chicanos with memory like our Indian counterparts recognize that we are a nation within a nation. An internal nation whose existence defies borders of language, geography, race.
- Revolution is not only won by numbers, but by visionaries, and if artists aren't visionaries, then we have no business doing what we do. I call myself a Chicana writer. Not a Mexican-American writer, not an Hispanic writer, not a half-breed writer. To be a Chicana is not merely to name one's racial/cultural identity, but also to name a politic, a politic that refuses assimilation It acknowledges our mestizaje-Indian, Spanish, and Africano into the US mainstream.
- The challenge is to remain as culturally specific and culturally complex as possible, even in the face of mainstream seduction to do otherwise.
- One of the deepest wounds Chicanos suffer is separation from our Southern relatives. Gloria Anzaldúa calls it a "1,950-mile-long open wound," dividing México from the United States, "dividing a pueblo, a culture." This "llaga" ruptures over and over again in our writing, Chicanos in search of a México that never wholly embraces us. "Mexico gags," poet Lorna Dee Cervantes writes, "on this bland pocha seed." This separation was never our choice.
- I hold a vision requiring a radical transformation of consciousness in this country, that as the people of color population increases, we will not be just another brown faceless mass hungrily awaiting integration into white Amerika, but that we will emerge as a mass movement of people to redefine what an "American" is. Our entire concept of this nation's identity must change, possibly be obliterated. We must learn to see ourselves less as US citizens and more as members of a larger world community composed of many nations of people and no longer give credence to the geopolitical borders that have divided us, Chicano from Mexicano, Filipino-American from Pacific Islander, African-American from Haitian. Call it racial memory. Call it shared economic discrimination. Chicanos call it "Raza,"-be it Quichua, Cubano, or Colombiano-an identity that dissolves borders. As a Chicana writer that's the context in which I want to create.
Quotes about Cherríe Moraga edit
- The vision that impels feminists to action was the vision of the Grandmothers' society, the society that was captured in the words of the sixteenth-century explorer Peter Martyr nearly five hundred years ago. It is the same vision repeated over and over by radical thinkers of Europe and America, from François Villon to John Locke, from William Shakespeare to Thomas Jefferson, from Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels, from Benito Juarez to Martin Luther King, from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Judy Grahn, from Harriet Tubman to Audre Lorde, from Emma Goldman to Bella Abzug, from Malinalli to Cherríe Moraga, and from Iyatiku to me. That vision as Martyr told it is of a country where there are "no soldiers, no gendarmes or police, no nobles, kings, regents, prefects, or judges, no prisons, no lawsuits... All are equal and free."
- Paula Gunn Allen The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions (1986)
- What you could say is that in the sixties and the early seventies the Chicanos were at the controls. They were the ones who were visible, the Chicano leaders. Then in the eighties and nineties, the women have become visible. I see a lot of Chicanas when I travel. They come up to me, and while we are talking I ask them about their role models. They mention names like Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa and other Chicana authors. It is, and will continue to be, women that they are reading, that they respect. Not the guys. So it-the Chicano Movement-has shifted into the Movimiento Macha.
- Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands (1999)
- In response to an upsetting confrontation between Jewish women and women of color in a New England regional Women's Studies Conference,** Cherríe Moraga (et al.) wrote in Gay Community News, "We don't have to be the same to have a movement, but we do have to be accountable for our ignorance. In the end, finally, we must refuse to give up on each other."
- Evelyn Torton Beck "Why Is This Book Different from All Other Books?" in Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology (1982)
- In the case of Moraga, her dream of a "unified Third World feminist movement" reflects a similar longing for immediacy and "harmony... consensus and mutual understanding." Here, Moraga would do well to take up Iris Marion Young's call to envision the political as "a relationship of strangers who do not understand one another in a subjective and immediate sense, relating across time and distance."
- Cristina Beltrán The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity (2010)
- Working-class women's literature, women of color, specifically Latina women's writing like my friend Ana Castillo's, or my friend Cherrie Moraga's, Helena Viramontes's, Elena Poniatowska's, and Marguerite Duval's sends me all the way to my typewriter as much as Manuel Puig's stories.
- Sandra Cisneros 1990 interview in Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers edited by Hector A. Torres (2007)
- It will be six years next month since the vision of KTP (Kitchen Table Press) became a reality through the hard work of Barbara Smith and Cherrie Moraga and Myrna and the others.
- Audre Lorde, "Burst of Light" (August 12 1986)
- The most striking change during the past 20 years can be seen in attitudes toward homophobia. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, an almost total silence hung over gay and lesbian advocacy. No openly gay person could be a movement leader. Today homophobia persists; most progressive, straight Chicanos as well as Chicanas still fail to see gay and lesbian rights as another struggle of other oppressed people. Too still fail to see homophobia as a sometimes murderous force of discrimination. But the situation has improved, especially in some major cities, in academia and among youth. A lesbian caucus of NACCS was formalized at its 1992 national conference in Albuquerque, thus establishing an official rejection of homophobia toward lesbians. Gay and lesbian Raza groups and individuals are out there now, as they never could be before. The work of Chicana lesbian artists and intellectuals such as Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga has been crucial to this liberation, with benefits going beyond las lesbianas. Wherever one finds strong voices for women among Chicanas, they often come from Lesbians.
- Elizabeth Martinez, De Colores Means All of Us (1998)
- Cherrie 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)
- Today Moraga's love poems, her commemorations of love between women, include silver laughter, tear-stained despair and homegirl entanglements. Through these and other writings she presents us her vision of a Queer Aztlan: a Chicano homeland that can embrace all its people, including its gays and lesbians.
- Elizabeth Martinez, De Colores Means All of Us (1998)
- Cherríe and I — for about, I don’t know, a year or two — were a two-woman writing support group. We just got together and shared our work, which was wonderful. So that I was somebody who was in her life when she and Gloria [Anzaldúa] got together and talked about putting out This Bridge Called My Back.
- The works of Chicana lesbian writers Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherrie Moraga, Emma Pérez, Ana Castillo, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Carla Trujillo, and many others bring out the pain and isolation, but, as important, their joys, self-respect, courage, and dignity.
- Vicki L. Ruiz, From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America
- We realized we were on our own and started bonding together, Latina women writers like Cherrie Moraga, Jewel Gómez, black writers like Audre Lorde and Ntozake Shange, who wrote For Colored Women, we understood we had to support each other or nobody would.
- Luz María Umpierre I'm Still Standing: Treinta años de poesía/30 Years of Poetry (2011)
- This book is an answer to Cherrie Moraga's valiant Loving In The War Years.
- Luz María Umpierre The Margarita Poems (1987)