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- 1 2017-12-18T02:19:52+00:00 Sylvia Guan 4de2793c199773bf30d0153336f1df9abbea7299 Metaphor of lines used throughout the book to connect to past anthologies like The Black Woman and This Bridge Called My Back Sylvia Guan 1 plain 2017-12-18T02:19:52+00:00 Sylvia Guan 4de2793c199773bf30d0153336f1df9abbea7299
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Reception and Legacy
The receptions of these anthologies then and now reveal the lasting impact they have as well as the power to create a community that spans through generations of readers. One book review of This Bridge, published in 1982 by deborah aslen jamieson, highlights the strikingly intimate connection she felt in reading and finishing the anthology. The headings in this book review – “redefining,” “a passage through,” and “not alone” –show the unique reflections and connections a woman of color can feel in finishing the anthology. As a woman of color, jamieson engages with the text and begins a conversation with the pieces, asking, “Yet, how can we, when we start the process of redefinition, examine the lives of our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, etc. and not be feminist - not want the oppression to end for them and for ourselves” (jamieson 6). In this quote, jamieson invokes a sense of collectivity through the combined effort of examining the lives of the women they are related to, which thus would draw connections to even a larger community outside of the anthology’s readership. While jamieson seems committed with ending oppression for herself, the anthology seems to encourage her in helping to end the oppression of others as well. She continues on to say, “We must find our way to each other, strengthen each other and form a unified front so that we can accomplish what is important to us” (jamieson 6) This focus on collective freedom shows how effective This Bridge is in not only community-building but also the formation of community identity and power through mutual engagement with one another.
Even decades later, The Black Woman still holds the power to resonate with its audience, showing how these anthologies can build community and connections through the generations. Marquis Bey, in their/his article titled “A Series of (Un)related Events: Forty-Five Years After The Black Woman: an Anthology,” invokes a sense of community that The Black Woman initially sought to seek through Bey’s series of disjointed snapshots of numerous Black women, past and present. Similar to the curating of works in the anthology, Bey places their/his memories of Black women in their/his life alongside the lives of those like Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, and Claudia Rankine. Although it has been forty-five years, the work still speaks to those at its core. Even more striking is that Bey in this very recent article still references the relation between The Black Woman and This Bridge:
Bey’s continuation of this metaphor shows how they/he is thinking about these past anthologies in the context of our present moment. This reference highlights the lasting power and influence that these anthologies still hold today.
The role of Black women throughout the early and mid-20th-century was that of a bridge. The backs of Black women, Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa have noted, were bridges on which everybody and their dogs treaded. They were explanatory crosswalks, Black women, explaining things to fathers, sisters, white feminists, brothers, artists, Black separatists—whomever. (Bey)
The lasting impact of these anthologies has left a legacy on its readers as well as anthologies to come after. One anthology that draws direct connection and inspiration from The Black Woman and This Bridge is the anthology Revolutionary Mothering; Love on the Front Lines, edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams and published in 2016. In the introduction, Gumbs positions this anthology “in the legacy of [these past] revolutionary anthologies” (Gumbs, “Introduction,” 9). The anthology, using the metaphor of lines, wants to continue the conversation that the Black Woman and This Bridge began by focusing on fostering a community of revolutionary mothers of color. Similar to the previous works, the editors of Revolutionary Mothering include a variety of pieces like essays, poetry, and even photography, further complicating the idea of scholarship. However, according to the copyright page, the anthology takes its content to a new level by including works that have not yet been previously published, showing the anthology's commitment to placing power in and elevating the voices of those who most need to be heard: mothers of color. By building off of the strategies of the previous, Revolutionary Mothering is able to create a community with the past but also show how the contemporary moment fits into an ongoing conversation on feminism and women of color.