I Transfer and Go Underground
A love letter. Some random musings. Or a disjointed rant on the long awaited 4th Edition of “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color”, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. Un mil gracias SUNY Press!
My formal introduction to Indigenous and race-radical women of color feminism was violent, namely due to my own life experience as a survivor of sexual and state violence, my social location as a mixed-race queer woman of color from an urban working-class/working-poor background, and to the wider political conjuncture that was taking place when I was introduced to this activist tradition. Like many poor queer youth of color growing up in the ‘shadow of the prison’ in the 80s and 90s in “Golden Gulag” (Gilmore 2007a) California, feminism—or what I thought at the time was feminism—didn’t speak to me or to anyone else in my hood. It didn’t help me to understand why and how California became comprised overnight of over nine hundred miles of concrete prisons overflowing with the caged bodies of the ‘surplus population’ of young men and women of color victimized by ‘The War on Drugs’ and by other horrors that start with the letter ‘D’: devolution, downsizing, deindustrialization, and dehumanization. What I would later understand to be white, upper- middle-class, hetero “hegemonic feminism” (a.k.a. “whitestream feminism”) just didn’t do it for me like queer Black and Chicana feminisms and “This Bridge Called My Back” (Moraga and Anzaldúa 1983) feminist praxis would. While “a principled sense of mortal urgency” (Gilmore 2007a, 251) has continued to propel me to act, race-radical women of color feminist thought has continued to teach me to act strategically and tactically, to possess a healthy distrust of easy, instantaneous solutions, and—as sister Audre Lorde reminded us in her poem “A Litany for Survival” (Lorde 1995)—“to speak, remembering, we were never meant to survive.” Continue reading