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

... at some point in our lives we have to be crazy, we have to lose control, step out our ordinary way of seeing, and learn that the world is not the way we think it is, that it isn't solid, structured, and forever... Extend your boundaries. Live on the edge for a while.
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg, p. 164

Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released… And your main obsessions have power; they are what you will come back to in your writing over and over again. And you’ll create new stories around them. So you might as well give in to them. They probably take over your life whether you want them to or not, so you ought to get them to work for you.


Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg, p. 47

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.

“… death is always with us and what matters is not to know whether we can escape it but whether we have achieved the maximum for the ideas we have made our own… We are nothing on Earth if we are not in the first place the slaves of a cause, the cause of the peoples, the cause of justice and liberty.”


Frantz Fanon, quoted in “Frantz Fanon (1925 – 1961),” Teodros Kiros, A Companion to African Philosophy, 217

That which is to give light must endure burning.
Viktor Frankl
There resided here for some time an African called Antonius Wilhelmus Amo who belonged in the household of his Royal Highness. As he had before then thoroughly mastered the Latin language, he very diligently and with great success studied here in the School of private law. As a result, he became most accomplished in that field. With the knowledge and consent of his patrons, who had maintained him up till that time, he registered with Dean von Ludewig to give a public defense of dissertation under him. To make the argument of the dissertation appropriate to his status and circumstance, they approved for him the them “De Jure Maurorum in Europa”: in other words, on the rights of Black Africans in Europe. In it, not only has he shown, basing himself upon Law and History, that African kings were once vassal to the Roman Emperor, and that every one of them had an imperial patent, which Justinian, too, had granted, but he especially also examined the question to what extent the freedom of service of Africans in Europe, who had been purchased by Christians, accorded with laws commonly accepted at that time. – Notice of Amo’s Dissertation, University journal at Halle. Source: “Anton Wilhelm Amo,” William E. Abraham, A Companion to African Philosophy, p. 192.

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