who told you anybody wants to hear from you, you ain’t nothing but a black woman. – hattie gossett
Who am I, a poor Chicanita from the sticks, to think I could write. – Gloria E. Anzaldúa
As first generation writers, we defy the myth that the colour of our skin prevents us from using the pen to create. hattie gossett’s piece, the introduction to her first book, is presented here in recognition of that act of defiance. But it is not enough to have our books published. We must actively engage in establishing the criteria and the standards by which our work can be viewed.
Gloria E. Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: The Third World Woman Writer,” This Bridge Called My Back, p. 181
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO:
Dr. John Sharpe of London, who in 1957, a decade before physicians in England could legally perform an abortion for any reason other than the health of the woman, took the considerable risk of referring for an abortion a twenty-two-year-old American on her way to India.
Knowing only that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said, “You must promise me two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want to do with your life.”
Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I say this so long after your death:
I’ve done the best I could with my life.
This book is for you.
Race is a concept of having to be twice as qualified, twice as good to go half as far. And I feel like at this point, in these economic times, it’s like being three times as good to go half as far.
Barbara Smith, This Bridge Called My Back, pp. 123 – 124
But it is not really difference the oppressor fears so much as similarity. He fears he will discover in himself the same aches, the same longings, as those of the people he shitted on. He fears the immobilization threatened by his own incipient guilt. He fears he will have to change his life once he has seen himself in the bodies of the people he has called different. He fears the hatred, anger, and vengeance of those he has hurt.
Cherríe L. Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back, p. 30
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;