Gloria E. Anzaldúa

By: William Nericcio
September 26, 2014

anzaldua

To say that This Bridge Called My Back, a 1981 collection of writings by radical women of color co-edited by GLORIA E. ANZALDÚA (1942–2004), was influential on women’s studies, Chicana cultural theory, queer theory, and post-colonial and feminist activism is like saying that Copernicus made some good points about the workings of the solar system. Compiled with love, verve, and genius by Anzaldúa and playwright Cherríe Moraga, the anthology of ground-breaking prose and poetry exposed the (white, American) homogeneity of late 20th-century feminism; feminism has never recovered from its impact, and that’s a good thing. Anzaldúa’s semi-autobiographical 1987 work Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, which discusses the invisible “borders” that exist between Latino/as and whites, men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, would inspire new critical fusions of poetics and analysis; it mesmerized a generation of social justice-loving feminist intellectuals of color. Anzaldúa mesmerized me in 1983, when I gathered with a group of fellow University of Texas undergrads, many of us slackers from upper-middle-class Mexican-American families who enjoyed the luxury of ignoring our roots and responsibilities, ostensibly to hear her deliver a lecture. Anzaldúa gathered us in a circle and — in a mad mix of performance art, feminist agit-prop proselytizing, and Latina superpowers — she prowled its center, shouting, pounding fist into palm: “Don’t you see it, don’t you feel it? From your heart and your soul and out your culo and through the earth and to its core runs a root that holds you to the planet, Mother Earth, like an umbilical, like an artery.” I saw it, I felt it; I still do.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Winsor McCay, Darby Crash, Emile Henry, T.S. Eliot.

READ MORE about members of the Anti-Anti-Utopian Generation (1934-43).

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