What I’m Reading: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color

This Bridge Called My BackIn between writing another round of a section for a new book proposal—wo/man, writing book proposals are tedious, especially when you have to justify your mere existence to editors, explain your language, your culture, your self, your…—I found myself in dire need of inspiration. So, after about two decades, I decided to pick up an anthology I had not visited in almost two decades: This Bridge Called My Back.

Reading the pages were kismet, somewhat sad, and an illustration of just how little things have changed despite the best efforts of those women who came before us to explain us. Twenty years. In this span of time, I birthed two children, embarked on a writing and filmmaking career of my own, married my best friend, gotten a miseducation, spent a good deal of time unlearning things, unteaching my daughter the same things, talking to people, traveling, finding my self, reconciling with my father, learning about motherhood by not having my own be a present figure in my life. I learned how to have pride in the potential of where I come from as a dominiyorkian, and at once, be okay with hating that our potential has yet to be realized. I’ve met people of all races—those that Viktor Frankl identifies as belonging to the “decent” and “indecent” categories—I can go on.

As I read the book, I suffered a momentary bout of despondency because, well, the walls many of these Sheroes—Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, Mitsuye Yamada, Audre Lorde—have devoted their lives in knocking down, are well, still mostly impenetrable. Communities of color are still suffering from an identity crisis, one that, until we overcome it, will keep us divided and unengaged with each other and society. Until we learn to love, to make peace, with who we face in the mirror, I think that another two decades will pass with little spiritual progress.

So many passages felt as if someone were reading me, if you will, from another dimension. I felt as if I were having a conversation with women I knew well, with mothers I’ve not known and with friends struggling with the same issues. Anzaldua herself, a child of Yemaya and now, posthumously, a spirit guide for women who refuse to live in a box, read me with the following passage:

The mixture of bloods and affinities rather than confusing or unbalancing me, has forced me to achieve a kind of equilibrium. Both cultures deny me a place in their universe. Between them and among others, I build my own universe, El Mundo Zurdo. I belong to myself and not to any one people.

Comments 1

  1. Thanks again, Raq, for your clarity, wisdom, and warrior spirit.
    You are what we all had in mind when we wondered who could carry this work forward and expand on it in ways we knew nothing about. You have truly offered yourself as a bridge and you’ve gone a step further by having the capacity to do what needs to be done to reach many more people. You are an inspiration.

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