||This article's introduction section may not adequately summarize its contents. (June 2013)|
|Cherríe L. Moraga|
September 25, 1952 |
|Subject||Feminism, Chicana studies|
|Notable works||This Bridge Called My Back, Heroes and Saints|
|Notable awards||Critics' Circle; PEN West; American Book Award|
Cherríe Lawrence Moraga (born September 25, 1952) is a Chicana writer, feminist activist, poet, essayist, and playwright. She is part of the faculty at Stanford University in the Department of Drama and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Her works explore the ways in which gender, sexuality and race intersect in the lives of women of color.
Moraga was born of mixed blood parentage on September 25, 1952 in Whittier, California located approximately 10 miles southeast from Los Angeles. Raised in California’s San Gabriel Valley, Moraga felt the effects of her mixed ethnicity—Mexican and Anglo—from an early age. Her early writing acknowledges the complex relationship of being able to "pass" for white, while emotionally deeply identifying with the non-white part of her identity and her extended Chicano (Mexican American) family. In her article, "La Guera," she compares the difference between her life being fair-skinned, with her mother's life as an easily identifiable Hispanic woman. For a long time, she used her Anglo looks to her advantage, until she realized that, "it is frightening to acknowledge that I have internalized a racism and class-ism, where the object of oppression not only someone outside of my skin, but the someone inside my skin."  In those moments, she realized that she herself had been undermining her Chicana culture, by conforming to an Anglo culture, as she calls it. Her family has remained a large focus of her writing—her Mexican American mother, specifically, who was forced to leave school at an early age to support her younger siblings. As a working class writer, Moraga's acknowledges that the main inspiration to become a writer was her mother, who was an eminent storyteller. Moraga earned her Bachelor's degree from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, California, a nonsectarian college, which Moraga describes as "Radical Catholic." She graduated in 1974 earning a Bachelor's Degree in English. Soon after attending Immaculate Heart College, she enrolled in a writing class at the Women's Building and produced her first lesbian poems. In 1977 she moved to San Francisco where she supported herself as a waitress, became politically active as a burgeoning feminist, and eventually found her way to women of color feminism. She earned her Master's Degree in Feminist Writings from San Francisco State University in 1980. This was the same period of her association with Gloria Anzaldúa, and the project of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, which would be published in 1981.
Moraga was one of the few writers to write and introduce the theory on Chicana lesbianism. Her interests include the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race, particularly in cultural production by women of color. There are not many women of color writing about issues that queer women of color face today: therefore, her work is very notable and important to the new generations. In the 1980s her works started to be published. Since she is one of the first and few Chicana/Lesbian writers of our time, she set the stage for younger generations of other minority writers and activists.
After her college years, Moraga openly accepted her lesbianism, after hiding it from others and herself, and was then when she compared those feelings and emotions she was experiencing to her mother’s feelings. She was making a connection between the way that the society was discriminating her by being a lesbian and the feelings her mother faced by the oppression of being poor, a women of color and with a lack of education. “My lesbianism is the avenue through which I have learned the most about silence and oppression, and it continues to be the most tactile reminder to me that we are not free human beings” describing lesbianism as poverty, just as being dark, women or simply poor. Her own acceptance as a lesbian made her embrace her ethnic background and sexual orientation, which later helped and guided her through the struggles she faced. She understood that even in her generation, women continued to be discriminated against and were not free since there are still many standards that the U.S society has constructed and strengthen throughout the years.
Moraga began writing early in her life, but did not get serious until after she “came out” as a lesbian. She then got involved with the feminist movement. She writes about having to choose between referring to herself as a “Chicana lesbian” or a “lesbian Chicana”–linguistically, only one of these two identities can serve as the essential part of her being, while the other can only serve as a modifier. Knowing and being proud of her sexuality was easier for Moraga to express her feelings and thoughts on writing. Her work has been part of who she is a women that identifies as a Chicana and a lesbian. In Loving in the War Years, Moraga cites Capitalist Patriarchy: A Case for Social Feminism as an inspiration when realizing her intersecting identity as a Chicana lesbian, saying, "The appearance of these sisters' words in print, as lesbians of color, suddenly made it viable for me to put my Chicana and lesbian self in the center of my movement." 
Moraga's perspective on most of her work and writings exploring multiple intersecting identities as a “Xicanadyke” in the U.S., which composes the “raza” identity and sexual orientation, and how this has shaped her interactions with both the gay and lesbian movement and the Chicano movement. Nevertheless, the oppositional consciousness that she brings in her work has served as one of her most important characteristics. This “oppositional consciousness” is in stark contrast to the assimilationist core of many of the activist movements that Moraga criticizes.
She is perhaps best known for co-editing, with Gloria Anzaldúa, the anthology of feminist thought This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color in 1981; which was one of her most successful books that won the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 1986. Along with Ana Castillo and Norma Alarcon, she adapted this anthology into the Spanish-language Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos. Writings in the anthology, along with works by other prominent feminists of color, call for a greater prominence within feminism for race-related subjectivities which included her complex bicultural position to Anglo and Chicano culture, and ultimately laid the foundation for third wave feminism or Third World Feminism in the USA. Her first sole-authored book, Loving in the War Years: lo que nunca pasó por sus labios (1983), a combination of autobiographically modulated prose and poetry, is also an influential critical work among Chicana feminists and other feminists of color, and among scholars working in Chicano Studies.In this book she establishes the connections between her mother and herself, her sexuality and the influence her mother had on her life Her play Giving up the Ghost, published in 1986, focuses mainly on Chicana lesbianism and the main heroine embracing her lesbianism rather than denying it. The play was presented and premiered at the Theater Rhinoceros in San Francisco from February 10 to March 12 in 1989; it was directed by Anita Mattos and Jose Guadalupe Saucedo. In a plug for the show, political activist Angela Davis recently said, "[Ghost] is an emotionally haunting encounter that asks us as women to look back over our shoulders and face the unforgettable. Cherrie Morgan drums up the pulse of the past in all of us." It is important because during this time, the civil rights movements were at its climax. Integrating all women’s issues into one and cooperating in solidarity.
She published A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings, 2000-2010, in 2011. Her play New Fire: To Put Things Right Again had its world premiere January 11–29, 2012, in San Francisco, California. Cherrie Moraga was named a 2007 USA Rockefeller Fellow and granted $50,000 by United States Artists, an arts advocacy foundation dedicated to the support and promotion of America's top living artists. She won a Creative Work Fund Award in 2008, and the Gerbode-Hewlett Foundation Grant for Playwriting in 2009. The Last Generation (1993) is a politicized and intensely personal collection of poetry and prose that argues for a reconceptualization of on gender, sexuality, and ethnic identity, race, art and nationalism and the politics of survival.
From 1994 to 2002, she published a couple of volumes of drama through West End Press of Albuquerque, NM. The first one was Heroes and Saints (1994), which won an award. This play focuses on the issues faced by the large immigrant population working in the fields poisoned by pesticides. The Hungry Woman (2001) she makes the links between the mystical and the Chicano politics with her own perspective as a queer feminist. Watsonville/Circle in the Dirt (2002) these plays bring together the struggles of farmworkers and their resistance to cultural domination as well as the threat of economic enslavement. Her plays have been shown throughout the Southwest, in Chicago, Seattle and New York. Another work was done in 1995, "Heart of the Earth," where her adaptation of the Popol Vuh, the Maya creation myth, opened at the Public Theatre and INTAR Theatre in New York City.
Moraga has taught courses in dramatic arts and writing at various universities across the United States and is currently an artist in residence at Stanford University. Her play, Watsonville: Some Place Not Here, performed at the Brava Theatre Company of San Francisco in May, 1996, won the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Fund for New American Plays Award, from the Kennedy center for the Performing Arts. Barbara Smith, Audre Lorde and Moraga started Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1983, a group which did not discriminate against homosexuality, class, or race. it is the first publisher dedicated to the writing of women of color in the United States.
Moraga is currently involved in a Theatre communications group and was the recipient of the NEA Theatre Playwriting Fellowship Award Her plays and publications have won and received national recognition including a TCG Theatre Residency Grant, a National Endowment for the art fellowship for play writing and two Fund for New American Plays Awards in 1993. She was awarded the United States artist Rockefeller Fellowship for literature in 2007.In 2008 she won a Creative Work Fund Award. The following year, in 2009 she received a Gerbode-Hewlett foundation grant for play writing.
- A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings 2000-2010 (2011). Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-4977-9
- Watsonville: Some Place Not Here; Circle in the dirt: el pueblo de East Palo Alto (2002). Albuquerque: West End Press. ISBN 0-9705344-5-0.
- The Hungry Woman (2001). Albuquerque: West End Press. ISBN 0-9705344-0-X
- Waiting in the Wings: Portrait of a Queer Motherhood (1997) Ithaca: Firebrand Books. ISBN 1-56341-093-1.
- "Art in America Con Acento" (1994). Anthologized in Women Writing Resistance: essays on Latin America and the Caribbean (2003). Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-708-5.
- Heroes and Saints and Other Plays (1994). Albuquerque: West End Press. ISBN 0-931122-74-0.
- The Last Generation: Prose and Poetry (1993). Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-467-1
- The Sexuality of Latinas (co-editor, 1993). Berkeley: Third Woman Press. ISBN 0-943219-00-0.
- Shadow of a Man (1992)
- Giving Up the Ghost: Teatro in Two Acts (1986). Los Angeles: West End Press. ISBN 0-931122-43-0.
- Cuentos: Stories By Latinas (co-editor, 1983). New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. ISBN 0-913175-01-3.
- Loving in the War Years: Lo que nunca pasó por sus labios (1983). Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-195-8.
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (co-editor, 1981). Watertown, Massachusetts: Persephone Press. ISBN 0-943219-22-1
- Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos (co-editor, 1988). San Francisco: ism press. ISBN 978-0-910383-19-6.
Selected critical works on Cherríe Moraga
- Alarcón, Norma. “The Theoretical Subject(s) of This Bridge Called My Back and Anglo-American Feminism.” Criticism in the Borderlands: Studies in Chicano Literature, Culture and Ideology. Eds. Héctor Calderón and José David Saldívar. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1991. 28-39.
- Allatson, Paul. “‘I May Create a Monster’: Cherríe Moraga’s Hybrid Denial.” Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies 11-12 (1999/2000): 103-121.
- Allatson, Paul. “Cherríe Moraga.” The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature. Ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005. Vol. 3: 1520-23.
- Gilmore, Leigh. Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Women’s Self-Representation. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994.
- Ikas, Karin Rosa. Chicana Ways: Conversations with Ten Chicana Writers. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2002.
- Negrón-Muntaner, Frances. “Cherríe Moraga.” Latin American Writers on Gay and Lesbian Themes: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook. Ed. David William Foster. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994. 254-62.
- Vivancos Perez, Ricardo F. Radical Chicana Poetics. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
- Yarbro-Bejarano, Yvonne. “Cherríe Moraga.” Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 82: Chicano Writers First Series. Eds. Francisco A. Lomelí and Carl R. Shirley. Detroit: Gale/Bruccoli Clark Layman, 1989. 165-77.
- Yarbro-Bejarano, Yvonne. “De-constructing the Lesbian Body: Cherríe Moraga’s Loving in the War Years.” The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. Ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Ana Barale and David M. Halperin. New York: Routledge, 1993. 595-603.
- Yarbro-Bejarano, Yvonne. The Wounded Heart: Writing on Cherríe Moraga. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.
- National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Scholars Award, 2001.
- David R. Kessler Award. The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, City University of New York. (In honor of contributions to the field of Queer Studies), 2000.
- The First Annual Cara Award. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center/ Cesar Chavez Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction in Chicana/Chicano Studies, 1999.
- The Fund for New American Plays Award, a project of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 1995 and 1991.
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Ellas in Acción, San Francisco, 1995.
- Lesbian Rights Award, Southern California Women for Understanding ("for Outstanding Contributions in Lesbian Literature and for Service to the Lesbian Community"), 1991.
- The National Endowment for the Arts Theater Playwrights' Fellowship, 1993.
- The PEN West Literary Award for Drama, 1993.
- The (Bay Area Theatre?) Critics' Circle Award for Best Original Script, 1992 (Heroes and Saints).
- The Will Glickman Playwriting Award, 1992.
- The Drama-logue Award for Playwriting, 1992.
- The Outlook Foundation, Literary Award, 1991.
- The California Arts Council Artists in Community Residency Award, 1991-2 /1993-5.
- The American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1986.
- The Creative Arts Public Service (CAPS) Grant for Poetry, New York State, 1983.
- The Mac Dowell Colony Fellowship for Poetry, New Hampshire, 1982.
- Black feminism
- Chicana feminism
- Third-world feminism
- List of Mexican American writers
- List of women writers
- (Spanish) Pignataro, Margarita Elena del Carmen (Arizona State University PhD thesis). "Religious hybridity and female power in "Heart of the Earth: A Popol Vuh Story" and other theatrical works by Cherrie Moraga." (Spanish: El hibridismo religioso y la fuerza femenina en Heart of the Earth: A Popul Vuh Story y otras obras teatrales de Cherríe Moraga) (Dissertation/Thesis). 01/2009, ISBN 9781109102925. UMI Number: 3353695. - This work has an abstract in English and is written in the Spanish language.
- Pignataro, p. 1. "Cherrie Lawrence Moraga: Introduction"
- "Cherrie Moraga". University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- Moraga, Cherrie. "La Guera". jonescollegeprep.engschool.org.
- Moraga, Cherrie (September 1979). "La Guera" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- "Cherríe Moraga & "The Welder"". Literature of Working Women. Workingwomen.wikispaces.com. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- "Cherrie Moraga: Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies". Stanford University. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- Moraga, Cherríe L. (1983). Loving in the War Years. Boston: South End Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-89608-195-8.
- "Cherrie Moraga: Assimilation and Activism". Introduction to Comparative Queer Literary Studies. 2013-03-10. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- "Cherrie Moraga". Voices From the Gaps. University of Minnesota. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- Yarbro-Bejarano, Yvonne. The Wounded Heart: Writing on Cherríe Moraga. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.
- A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings, 2000–2010
- Manus, Willard (March 13, 1998). "Giving Up the Ghost, About a Chicana Lesbian, Opens Mar. 13 in San Diego". Playbill.
- Ivan Villanueva (December 13, 2011). "Cherrie Moraga Aims to Ignite a New Fire". The Advocate. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
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- Céspedes, Erika Vivianna (2012-01-13). "Moraga Returns With A New Fire; To Put Things Right Again". Silicon Valley De-Bug. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- "Cherrie Moraga Biography - (1952– ), This Bridge Called My Back: Radical Writings by Women of Color". JRank Articles. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- "Moraga, Cherríe L.: Heroes and Saints". NYU School of Medicine. 1998-02-19. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- "THE HUNGRY WOMAN - Cherrie Moraga". Small Press Distribution. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- VG/Voices from the Gaps Project: Merideth R. Cleary and Erin E. Fergusson
- Short, Kayann. Coming to the Table: The Differential Politics of "This Bridge Called my Back", Genders 19 (1994): pp. 4-8.
- Official site
- Cast Out: Queer Lives in Theater (University of Michigan Press, edited by Robin Bernstein) includes Moraga's essay, "And Frida Looks Back: The Art of Latina/o Queer Heroics."
- Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos (co-editor, 1988). San Francisco: ism press. ISBN 978-0-910383-19-6 (paperback); ISBN 978-0-910383-20-2 (hardcover)