- Purchase/rental options available:
Discourse 25.1&2 (2003) 294-303
[Access article in PDF]
"A New Connection, a New Set of Recognitions":
From This Bridge Called My Back to this bridge we call home1
By all accounts, 1981 was a turning point for women's writings. This was the year the first edition of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, was published by Persephone Press, a Massachusetts-based, white feminist press. Bridge began in 1979 as a response by Anzaldúa to feeling like an outsider, as the token woman of color at a women's retreat just north of San Francisco. What began as a retreat conversation of encouragement between two individuals turned into group activism, bringing together the voices of women of color as a response to the Left's "shaky and shabby commitment to women" and white feminism's exclusion of issues of race and class (Moraga, Preface xiii ). Bridge was a revolutionary statement in its formation and in its intention. "This Bridge Called My Back," wrote Moraga and Anzaldúa in the introduction to the first edition,
[. . .] intends to reflect an uncompromised definition of feminism by women of color in the US. We named this anthology 'radical' for we were interested in the writings of women of color who want nothing short of a revolution in the hands of women—who agree that that is the goal, no matter how we might disagree about getting there or the possibility of seeing it in our own lifetimes. (xxiii-xxiv ) [End Page 294]
In the intervening two decades since its publication, the voices recorded in the anthology have reached an international audience although for years the volume remained out of print. Now two parallel bridge publications are available to readers.
On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the first Bridge, a third edition was published in 2002 by Norma Alarcón's Third Woman Press of Berkeley, California. In her Publisher's Note, Alarcón writes:
In the Spring of 2000, Third Woman Press began conversations with the co-editors in order to acquire the rights to put in print, once again, This Bridge Called My Back. Both editors believed it appropriate that a press run by women of color print the revised third edition. It is very unfortunate that Third Woman Press founded in 1979 has become virtually the only press of color surviving from that earlier feminist activist period. It is our great pleasure to publish Bridge in the year of its 20th anniversary. Though the copyright will read 2002. (vi)
Invoking appropriateness, Alarcón thus lays claim to this new version of Bridge. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Alarcón's press had become one of the leading publishers of individual works and collections by women of color. This new edition of Bridge includes timely individual forewords by both editors, drafted soon after
9/11. The original essays, poems, and stories are enhanced by a collection of women's art work from the 1970s through 1990s curated by Celia Herrera Rodríguez. The original bibliography, "Third World Women in the United States—By and About Us: A Selected Bibliography by Cherríe Moraga" is supplemented by "Bibliography, 2001—Twenty Years Later: Selected Writings by Women of Color (1981-2001)," compiled by Mattie Udora Richardson with the assistance of Yolanda Venegas, Karina Cespedes, and Letizia Rossi. The valuable new 42-page comprehensive bibliography includes entries on film and video.
Also in 2002, what has been termed a "sister volume" to Bridge, this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation edited by Gloria E. Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating was published by Routledge (it is interesting to note that the sister volume was included in the bibliography for the 2002 Bridge). One same editor, a similar title, a similar vision—all in repetition of the original. this bridge we call home thus emerges from the 1981 model text. In her Introduction, AnaLouise Keating provides...