This Bridge Called My Back

I read the book (This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color) when I was in college, still have my copy around somewhere (but not all the books have been unpacked yet, a year and a half after moving). It’s really an amazing book and I’d re-read it if I knew where it was. It was an important part of my consciousness-raising, of my learning that I am a white middle-class woman, 4th-generation college educated, and that many other American women don’t share those experiences. (And here’s a review of the sequel, 20 years later, called This Bridge We Call Home.)

I came home tired tonight, after writing emails to connect/update/transform several people/groups/situations/projects, and once I got home I had to put on my other head/hat to do the same thing for my family members. I used to call myself the “switchboard,” in my first few years at Berith Sholom, because I helped people plug into each other. Now, 10 years later, I REALLY know folks, often know who to call or email to get things done; I have ideas and lists that others (often) find useful and I sit down at the computer and figure them out and send them off. (And enough is asked of me that things do slip through the cracks, and I’m sorry about that …) It’s very exciting to do this work, but it’s a lot, and I’m tired.

So I came home and thought of this poem, “The Bridge Poem” by Donna Kate Rushin.

(And here’s a very sweet review of the original Bridge, written just a few years ago, in 2004. I mention it here because the author quotes quite a bit of the book, which gives you a good flavor of it. And she ends with one of my favorite pieces, written by Aurora Levins Morales, which I can never remember where I saw it so I’m glad I stumbled over it tonight:

“Sitting in a kitchen in oh-so-white New Hampshire with old friends, mother and daughter, Ceci says ‘It takes three generations. If you resolve your relationship with your mother you’ll both change, and your daughter will have it easier, but her daughter will be raised differently. In the third generation the daughters are free.’ I’m not thinking then of this essay, but days later when I sit down again to work, the phrase keeps ringing: In the third generation the daughters are free.“)