Praise for Yours in Struggle

From Monisha Das Gupta, Dissonances, (September 30, 1996)

Minnie Bruce Pratt's "Identity: Blood Skin Heart" in Yours in Struggle…is a fine example of a rigorous search for the histories of oppression and struggle that hide beneath the security of an identity, home and community.

From Mervat Hatem, The Women’s Review of Books:

Its critical analytical stance pushes the consciousness of all the parties involved beyond the self-righteousness and indignant protestations that have sabotaged previous discussions of the subject. It sets new goals for the next stage by identifying the problems and you and I as members of different groups have to confront if we are to succeed in combating anti-Semitism and racism….[T]he result is a dialogue that propels us all forward.

From Booklist (American Library Association):

Yours in Struggle makes an important contribution to the development of feminist ideology and to the growth of an anti-oppression ethic.

From Sojourner:

"A book we must all read."

From Barbara Houston, In Defense of a Politics of Identity (University of New Hampshire)

Minnie Bruce Pratt, a white, southern, Christian-raised, lesbian woman, in her essay "Identity: Skin Blood Heart" in Yours In Struggle, addresses the urgent obligations surrounding identity politics. In her struggle to reject the rigid identity of her father, which sustains an appearance of stability by defining itself in terms of what it is not: "not black, not female, not Jewish, not Catholic, not poor…" Pratt has this dream:

On the night before my birthday, I slept and thought I heard someone walking through my apartment. I wanted it to be my lover, but it was my father, walking unsteadily, old, carrying something heavy, a box, a heavy box which he put down by my desk. He came through the darkness, smoking a cigarette, glints of red sparks, and sat down on my bed, wanting to rest: he was so tired. I flung my hands out angrily, told him to go, back to my mother; but crying, because my heart ached: he was my father and so tired. He left, and when I looked, the floor was a field of sandy dirt, with a diagonal track dragged through it, and rows of tiny green seed just spouting.

The box was still there, with what I feared: my responsibility for what the men of my culture have done, in my name, knowing my responsibility to change what my father had done, without even knowing what his secrets were. I was angry. Why should I be left with this? I didn’t want it; I’d done my best for years to reject it; I wanted no part of what was in it — the benefits of my privilege, the restrictions, the injustice, the pain, the broken urgings of the heart, the unknown horrors.

And yet it is mine: I am my father’s daughter in the present, living in a world he and my folks helped to create. A month after I dreamed this, he died. I honor the grief of his life by striving to change much of what he believed in; and my own grief by acknowledging that I saw him caught in the grip of racial, sexual, cultural fears that I am still trying to understand in myself.

I think we do need micro-narratives that tell the story of interlocking oppressions, stories of just the nature provided by Minnie Bruce Pratt.

Initially I resisted the suggestion that [we need] principles to order these conflictual, fragmented identities, however, as I read more of Patricia Williams, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Maria Lugones, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Adrienne Rich and Gloria Anzaldua, I think that there may be a principle after all. And it is a simple one. It is one that Vivian Paley uses in her kindergarten class: "You can’t say you can’t play."

What does "You can’t say you can’t play" mean? Well, first and foremost, it is a principle of non-exclusion. No identity can be excluded. If indeed as one writer claims, postmodernism is "the return of the repressed," then I think we are better off allowing the repressed into our conscious awareness.

Pratt… practices a form of identity politics that exemplifies an "enlarged mentality." It is an identity politics in which the individual takes responsibility for her situatedness, and location. It is an identity politics that involves a material, historical, bodily specificity about the interconnections between our own well being and the existences of others. It recognizes how our identities are partly fungible [capable of being used in exchange] with the lives of others, past and future. It involves asking the questions: "What is the moral content of [my] cultural identity" and "What are the political consequences of this moral content and cultural identity?"

Order Information
Yours In Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives On Racism And Anti-Semitism,
with Elly Bulkin and Barbara Smith
paper ISBN 0-932379-53-2
cloth ISBN 0-932379-54-0

Is available from:

SPD/Small Press Distribution, Inc.
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Phone: 510-524-1668
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