This Bridge Called my Back – Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa.

Without getting too personal, I have to admit I grew up with identity issues.I guess most women of colour living in the West do have such moments, especially seeing as how we are under-represented in many areas of society. Not only that, we also have to contend with stereotypes and being caught between cultures. As such, this book was very important to me. It is an anthology featuring different types of works (poems, speeches, short stories) by gay and straight women of colour (African-American, Asian, Native American, Latina). What I found surprising is how all these groups of women have similar problems despite their ethnic differences.

The book is indeed radical. It is very candid and unapologetic. It’s also exhorting. It talks about the frustration that women of colour have faced when their concerns and experiences have not been included in traditional feminist theory.

I found the book to be very inspirational. It was actually written over 30 years ago so things have changed quite a bit but some of the concerns remain the same.The main change I have seen is women of colour gaining awareness of themselves, their place in society and their strength. As Mitsuye Yamada says, “I would like to think that my new awareness is going to make me more visible than ever.”

Gloria Anzaldua encourages women of colour to write and share their stories and concerns. One of her quotes was so beautiful: “Pen, I feel right at home in your ink doing a pirouette, stirring the cobwebs, leaving my signature on the windowpanes. Pen, how could I ever have feared you. You are quite housebroken but it’s your wildness I am in love with.”

Despite the book being aimed at women of colour, I believe it is a good book for all women to read. Very educational and enlightening

The Bridge Poem
by Donna Kate Rushin

I’ve had enough
I’m sick of seeing and touching
Both sides of things
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody
Can talk to anybody
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then
I’ve got the explain myself
To everybody

I do more translating
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world
Find something else to make you legitimate
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood
Your manhood
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick
Of having to remind you
To breathe
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self

Forget it
Stretch or drown
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be
Is the bridge to my own power
I must translate
My own fears
Mediate
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere
But my true self
And then
I will be useful

-from This Bridge Called My Back
             edited by: Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua

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