Citation for Cherríe Moraga
Cherríe Moraga. Playwright and poet. Esteemed professor. Literary icon and fierce feminist. You tell a personal story, a universal story, by writing without secrets, by rethinking old myths.
We have so much to learn from you, especially in these times when division is more prevalent than inclusion, and boundaries can feel impossible to cross. When our differences define us in spite of best efforts to stay open and free. And because of this, we read you with all the more necessity and fervor, and we teach your work with pride.
Beginning in 1981, with the groundbreaking anthology you co-edited, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, you have given us something essential. You dedicate it to “all the women in it and all whose lives our lives will touch.” With Loving in the War Years, you examine coming of age as a Xicana and a lesbian as you opt for a life of activism. With Waiting in the Wings, you create a unique and intimate portrait of motherhood and family.
Your 2017 play, “The Mathematics of Love,” is a provocative and haunting exploration of colonialism and diaspora and the dilemmas faced by all who struggle to connect. And your most recent memoir, Native Country of the Heart, is as startling as it is profound — the story of your journey woven against the background of your mother’s magnificent life.
It is a privilege to teach your feminist anthem, “The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea,” which opens with this beautifully cosmic passage — “This is how stories begin and end … the innocence of an eagle feather stuffed inside a mother’s apron.” The play’s poetry and power never dissipate, and to observe our students as they grapple with its meaning is reason enough to do this job.
You live your own words. The revolution begins at home, you say. The passage is through — not over, not by, not around but through, you say. And you bridge the intersection of Xicana, feminist, and queer communities, not by blurring lines but by engaging fully with the roots of your heritage.
Barnard and writing have long been synonymous, with a legacy that makes us proud, and by virtue of this honor, we include you.
Professor Moraga, on behalf of my colleagues, the exceptional and inspiring Class of 2019, and anyone who has ever fought to find their place in the world, it is my great pleasure to award you the Barnard Medal of Distinction. You have our word.