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The Gloria Anzaldúa Memorial Quest

May 2004:

Dear Comadres, Compadres, Friends, and Estudiantes:

I'm writing to you with sorrowful news about the passing of our querida hermana/maestra/visionary sister-writer, Gloria Anzaldúa. I am sorry to have to pass the news in this "electronic" way. Several days ago, Gloria died in her home due to, what we understand to be, complications from the diabetes she suffered for many years.

To some of you Gloria was an dear friend; to others, a teacher on the page. To all of us, she was a source of profound inspiración in the way she made writing her life's warrior work.

Sunday night, a small group of friends gathered together in Oakland and built an altar in Gloria's honor. We prayed for her passage...that it be full of light, that as she greets her ancestors, may it be the powerful homecoming she so deeply deserves.

What I ask, in Gloria's name, is that where ever you are... In your home, on campus, in your organizations that you build an altar for Gloria, as well. With flores, her writings, photos, velas, the ways you wish to honor her and help her make this passage.

I'm sure as the news settles, larger memorials will be organized around the country, especially in Tejas and California...Nueva York, the places where Gloria resided. In the meantime, honor her with your prayers, as you believe.

Con todo corazón,
Cherríe Moraga

Gloria Anzal-who-a?

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa was a prolific and skilled author who produced children's stories, essays, poetry, honest and brilliant pieces of autobiography, critical theory, and groundbreaking anthologies. Her best-known works are probably Borderlands/La Fronter: The New Mestiza -- which her obituary describes as "a hybrid collection of poetry and prose which was named one of the 100 Best Books of the Century by both Hungry Mind Review and Utne Reader" -- and This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, a stellar anthology which she co-edited with Cherrie Moraga.

As one of the preeminent openly lesbian Chicana writers at a time when the feminist movement was largely straight and white, Gloria Anzaldúa also worked hard to support a feminism which focused on the connections between racism, classism, homophobia, and sexism in the world, and on building coalitions between the groups which had been increasingly excluded from this movement. This Bridge Called My Back was first published in 1981, and has been reprinted many times since, as well as having been re-released in a special anniversary edition. It is one of the central texts of the various feminist, womanist, and neofeminist movements, because -- as the best-beloved texts of these movements tend to do -- it has given many people a vision into a world in which they belong, a world in which they are fierce, visible, loved warriors who are achieving great things. Discovering this vision after a lifetime of erasure by mainstream culture would have a tremendous impact on anyone, but Anzaldúa's work is so clear, vivid, and full of fire that it acts upon its readers like a lightning bolt, making her into a sort of goddess.

El Altar

"(Anzaldúa) was within weeks of completing her dissertation and was planning to publish volumes of poems and short stories in the near future. A profoundly spiritual person whose grandmother was a curandera (traditional healer), she was devoted to la Virgen de Guadalupe, Nahuatl/Toltec divinities, and to the Yoruba orishás Yemayá and Oshún, to whom she had been introduced by Luisah Teish. Although she was deeply concerned with cultural identities, she resented labels and would fly out of any box in which others sought to trap her. Exemplary of her fiercely independent spirit were her insistence on the acceptance of bisexuality and her deep friendships with gay men and transpeople."

--AnaLouise Keating and Randy Connor

This quest is Everything2's altar to Gloria. What should quest submissions include? Well, any good altar should have candles. How about noding the luminaries of This Bridge Called My Back? (Parenthetic links indicate that someone's been noded a little already but could use a really bang-up job.)

Cherrie Moraga                                          Aurora Levins Morales
Gloria Anzaldúa                                         Jo Carrillo
(Toni Cade Bambara)                                   Gabrille Daniels   
Donna Kate Rushin                                       Judith Moschkovich 
Nellie Wong                                             doris davenport
mary hope lee                                           Audre Lorde
Rosario Morales                                         hattie gossett
Naomi Littlebear                                        Barbara Smith
Luisah Teish                                            Beverly Smith                           
Genny Lim                                               Cheryl Clarke
Mitsuye Yamada                                          Barbara Noda
Anita Valerio                                           Merle Woo 
Barbara Cameron                                         Mirtha Quintanales 
Norma Alarcon                                           Combahee River Collective
Andrea Canaan                                           Pat Parker

Already well-noded: Chrystos  

And what about some religious icons and statuettes -- the divine people, god/desses, and groups that serve as touchstones throughout Anzaldúa's work? These ones are related to or mentioned in "This Bridge," but I advise looking through anything by Gloria Anzaldúa for inspiration.

Virgen de Guadalupe
Nahuatl/Toltec divinities
the Yoruba orishás Yemayá and (Oshún)
Before Columbus Foundation
Kitchen Table Press
Combahee River Raid
(Chaka Khan)
(Ma Rainey)
(Mujerista/Feminista Movement)
Maria Stewart
Lil Hardin
Sister Rosetta Thorpe
Dinah Washington
Big Maybelle
Fannie Lou Hamer - a quest entry!
Ruby Doris Smith Robinson
Sara Gomez
David Walker
Denmark Vesey
Lester Prez
(Stephen Biko)

Already well-noded: Ida Cox, Malcolm X, Tammi Terrell

An altar, like Anzaldúa's work, is nothing without a good handful of personal experiences. Whether it is a photo of someone you love, a feather from a well-remembered walk, an acorn that symbolizes something powerful for you, or a story you can tell people about it all. There are already many pieces here that reflect the radical honesty, visibilizing, and incredible writing that Gloria Anzaldúa symbolizes:

But these gems can be difficult to find. In honor of this amazing woman's life, let's fill in some of the gaping holes in this database. Write about something related to radical women (and other people) of color. If you don't have personal experience to share in that area, go learn a little about one of the glowing and powerful people and organizations and events listed here, and node what you now know. Light some of those candles. Fill the site with sugar skulls and glitter and flowers and food for the soul.

Rewards, besides the spiritual glow of having contributed and learned and grown, come from incredibly fabulous people including haze, Chiisuta, and Cool Beans, oh and me, and include:

  • At least one C! and blessing per good solid writeup submitted (if a writeup is too short or misses the gist, I will let you know what more it needs to qualify);
  • "Pentious upvotes" and node audits for anyone who contributes more than once;
  • At least one C! and mention here for any already-posted writeups that qualify.

    The quest ends June 1, 2006 at midnight server time so get writin'! Msg me with any questions.

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