This Bridge Called My Back

feminist anthology

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.

I write to record what others erase when I speak, to rewrite the stories others have miswritten about me, about you. ~ Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Quotes edit

Page numbers refer to the Fourth Edition (SUNY Press: 2015)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The relationship between mother and daughter stands in the center of what I fear most in our culture. Heal that wound and we change the world. A revolution capable of healing our wounds. If we're the ones who can imagine it, if we're the ones who dream about it, if we're the ones who need it most, then no one else can do it. We're the ones.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Quotes about This Bridge Called My Back edit

  • 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.
  • 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)
  • This Bridge Called My Back...dispels all doubt about the power of a single text to radically transform the terrain of our theory and practice. Twenty years after its publication, we can now see how it helped to untether the production of knowledge from its disciplinary anchors-and not only in the field of women's studies. This Bridge has allowed us to define the promise of research on race, gender, class and sexuality as profoundly linked to collaboration and coalition-building. And perhaps most important, it has offered us strategies for transformative political practice that are as valid today as they were two decades ago.
  • 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
  • This Bridge Called My Back...has served as a significant rallying call for women of color for a generation, and this new edition keeps that call alive at a time when divisions prove ever more stubborn and dangerous. A much-cited text, its influence has been visible and broad both in academia and among activists. We owe much of the sound of our present voices to the brave scholars and feminists whose ideas and ideals crowd its pages.'
  • 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, I mean, that was just started by two or three people. You know, and it’s sort of amazing what happened. And who would have predicted it? They didn’t predict it, they just wanted to do it! They wanted to publish something and so they did.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • On the strength of what happened with This Bridge, I was suddenly credentialed. Suddenly I had the authority to speak about my own life and get paid a lot of money by a university to do so. Because that book had broken into — had been picked up by women’s studies all over the country and was being taught.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • This book is a manifesto-the 1981 declaration of a new politics 'US Third World Feminism.' No great de-colonial writer, from Fanon, Shaarawi, Blackhawk, or Sartre, to Mountain Wolf Woman, de Beauvoir, Saussure, or Newton could have alone proclaimed this 'politic born of necessity.' This politic denies no truths: its luminosities drive into and through our bodies. Writers and readers alike become shape-shifters, are invited to enter the shaman/witness state, to invoke power differently. 'US Third World Feminism' requires a re-peopling: the creation of planetary citizen-warriors. This book is a guide that directs citizenry shadowed in hate, terror, suffering, disconnection, and pain toward the light of social justice, gender and erotic liberation, peace, and revolutionary love. This Bridge transits our dreams, and brings them to the real.

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