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  • Editor’s Introduction
  • Paula J. Giddings

we prayed for thunder to clear the air

———Chrystos, Not Vanishing

"A country like this forces you to find your underground spring to survive," wrote the late South African-born writer Bessie Head. The epigrammatic words, quoted on the cover of her novel When Rain Clouds Gather (1968), refer to Head's adopted home of Botswana; but as is true with all fine writers, her specificity is a loose-fitting garment, a thing that may be worn across a multitude of boundaries.

Head's words are particularly propitious at a time like this. Aboveground, rain clouds have indeed gathered, and they are accompanied by a rising gale of reactionary forces. The certainties of fundamentalism, the exclusions of globalization, and the militarism of mindless markets push against us. The landscape, however, is too heavily seeded by courageous activism, groundbreaking scholarship, and protest fashioned into art to yield. Historically the thunderclap borne of such tensions portends trans-formative moments, periods of unprecedented creativity and insight. Revealed are numerous sites of the underground spring with its own inexorable will to rise. As the new editor of Meridians, I feel the responsibility—and excitement—of sustaining the journal's mission to be one of these sites.

I am fortunate to inherit the editorship of a journal whose boards—especially the editorial founding board—as well as staff, peer reviewers, and two former editors, Kum-Kum Bhavnani and Myriam J. A. Chancy, have, with commitment, hard work, and skill, set Meridians on such an extraordinary course of excellence. Since its inception under the Smith presidency of Ruth J. Simmons in 2000, they have been remarkable stewards in sustaining the task set out in the introduction of the journal's first issue: "to provide a forum for the finest scholarship and creative expression by and about women of color . . . enabling women to build bridges between one another's work, to forge links across different generations, and to make connections among our institutional and social locations." In December 2004, Meridians was recognized by the Council of [End Page v] Editors of Learned Journals, receiving its Phoenix Award for "Significant Editorial Achievement."

Building on this strong foundation, I look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence as well as adding to it. We look toward publishing special issues around emergent themes that frame race, feminism, transnationalism, and/ or communities of place and culture to provide a comprehensive, interdisciplinary reading of subjects within a single issue. As an editor who often looks to history and primary sources for inspiration and knowledge, I believe that this is a time to also look back as well as forward, to remember, document, and to pass on the experiences, passions, and revelations that set us on our course, as well as to look toward the revisionist callings of the future. I would like to see Meridians be a site for coming-of-political-age narratives; news of archival, oral history, and other primary source material; and state of the scholarship and culture writings. In my own loose-fitting garment as an African American feminist, I also bring to the editorial table a tradition of thought in which gender is foregrounded to connect, rather than separate, communities of men and women trying to make their way within, as James Baldwin prophesied, the "last white country the world will ever know."

Finally, we will work to make Meridians a point of departure to create a palpable sense of community among scholars and writers who are engaged in our mission. Too often we come together over concerns that have more to do with thorny institutional and practical issues and less with sharing our ideas and ideals with one another. I am aware that common political perspectives are merely one lane on the bridges that must extend within as well as across our communities.

This is a "transitional" issue of Meridians, as it was the preceding editor, Myriam J. A. Chancy, who either solicited or oversaw the development of the texts and poetry in this issue as well as the marvelous cover by Yovannah Diovanti. I am particularly appreciative of Myriam's meticulous efforts in preparing the pending materials to make...


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