Liberation never comes from oppressing someone else, and this anthology has everything you need to really get started learning about the lives and realities of others and thinking about how to make the world a better place for all of us. When I finally picked up This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherríe L. Moraga Gloria E. Anzaldúa, I felt nourished and like I was finally seeing a bit more of reality than I had before. Seeing reality versus the lies I’ve been indoctrinated with has been my life’s work.
There are so many parallels between the lives and thoughts of the authors in this anthology and my own, and there are many differences, some that are wrongs that need to be righted with regards to respect and access and opportunity, and some that are differences to be celebrated and embraced, not assimilated. For too long, the dominant culture in U.S. society has tried to coerce everyone it oppresses into believing in its awful values of competition, cruelty, and inequality. It’s told all of us that it hates that our highest goal should be assimilation, trying to get a seat at the table of power and privilege (really, a seat on the floor adjacent to that table or under it or serving the people at it…), but many wise people have rejected assimilation and rejected the dominant values of our, frankly, diseased and disgusting culture.
I really cannot overstate the importance of listening to people describe themselves instead of listening to other people describe them! The essays and poems in this anthology tugged at many questions I’d heard discussed by white adults when I was a child and teenager, questions like “Why do black people name their kids some of the names they do?” which, as I was reading, I realized the absurdity of white people asking other white people and engaging in hypothetical, eurocentric, white supremacist debates amongst themselves when of course we are the absolutely wrong people to ask. Not that I am encouraging anyone to run out and start asking individuals to explain themselves! The great thing about living in 2018 is that you can find answers to your questions in texts other people have already taken the time, care, and love to prepare for you! This anthology is a great start, and any time you have a question, you can ask the internet until you find people actually answering for themselves instead of other people making up answers for them!
I read the Fourth Edition of This Bridge Called My Back, and it had a wonderful new introduction by Cherríe Moraga where she talks about the many gains since the first edition was released and all her hopes for the future. I almost couldn’t stand it, since the Pussy Grabber had already been elected to office, and I felt so devastated, but I knew Moraga was right and I was wrong. There are many many many reasons to hope and to keep working and pushing back and embracing each other with love, openness, and compassion. As a huge bonus for me, who’d also been reading works by white feminists that included infuriating TERF (trans exclusive radical feminist) views and slander, Moraga seemed to have zero problems continuing to include an author who had since come out as a trans man. How easy is that? What a great model for the rest of us. We are all in this together, and we need to respect and celebrate our differences and lift each other up!