Adventures In Feministory: Cherrie Moraga

Cherrie Moraga is featured in this week's Adventures In Feministory because she is one of the most influential and visible Latina feminists of our time. Moraga revolutionized the feminist movement in 1981 with the release of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color, a collection she co-edited with Gloria Anzaldua. She is a writer, a lesbian, an editor a poet and an activist. She's not just those things, though, and they are not mutually exclusive. That "not just" qualification is what Moraga is most known for.

Moraga is half white and half Mexican; a lesbian and a Chicana activist; she came from a poor family but was not necessarily poor herself; her mother was illiterate where as Moraga herself went to college. It is from these many striking dualities that Moraga theorized the overlapping nature of problems that plague feminists. In her essay La Guera she says, "In this country, lesbianism is a poverty-as is being brown, as is being a woman, as is being just plain poor." Moraga explored the divisiveness these sources of oppression could bring into the feminist community: the racism in some aspects of the women's movement, the fact that some homosexuals of color sometimes had to "choose a side" to fight for. With the release of Bridge, these problems were brought to the forefront. She spoke about internalized oppression and the reality that even as liberal activists, some groups still oppressed other groups who were different. Moraga literally made herself the bridge between many this-or-that combinations that were both fighting for justice in a world full of "-isms", many that affected her personally. "I am a woman with a foot in both worlds," she said in La Guera. "And I refuse the split."

Moraga is also a playwright, artist and current artist in residence at Stanford University. The subjects of her work are vast. She started writing lesbian love poems in college, wrote a book about queer motherhood in her 40s and was most recently granted $50,000 by United States Artists. I can't wait to see what is next.

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Great article-I'd never actually heard of Cherrie Moraga previously. It's always great to find activists who acknowledge the the complexities of identity politics and the difficulties that can arise from certain forms of self-categorization.

On another note, I can help but be struck by the irony that Moraga, CA had more "yes on 8" signs than anywhere else I saw during the last election. Boo.

Q&A with Moraga

Hi Ashley et al. I was super chuffed last October when I got the press release from the UO Women's Center that Moraga was coming to speak in Eugene. She was gracious enough to grant me an interview, which we posted as a Q&A on our website. Here's the link.

And here's a sample:

Students need to require more progressive agendas from their teachers. Teachers can give them analysis and tools that will help them develop democracy in their country and not develop the status quo. And do the teachers practice what they preach, or are they ivory tower folks? It’s this process of becoming more educated and having your consciousness raised and moving out of your comfort zone that requires some kind of engagement in organizations or projects or coalition work, whether it’s about the war or the economy or after school programs.

It really is about getting out of that place where we’re comfortable because the country is based on convincing us that that’s what we want. If a part of your identity is disenfranchised, that might be the aperture for you begin to do some work, but if those identities aren’t what move you, are there sites that need mending or need development? Whatever city or town you live in, there’s plenty of work to get done.

I'm so glad you're honoring her here. Reading Cherrie Moraga helps me feel like there's a community of brilliant people in the world fighting the various tentacles of oppression. Talking with her was definitely one of the best times I've had since I became a journalist.