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Prof. Randall's Note: Since I have been adult, (especially as an African American woman professional) it seems like my whole life is centered around being a bridge between groups that can't seem to communicate directly. About two years ago, my friend Kim O'Leary (who was a former colleague here at the University of Dayton and who teaches at Thomas Cooley Law School) gave me a book This Bridge called by Back, Writings by Radical Women of Color. In it I read The Bridge Poem, by Donna Kate Ruskin.   All I could say was  Hallelujah!! Amen! February 15, 2006)

DonnaKateRuskin copy


The Bridge Poem
Donna Kate Ruskin

 I've had enough  I'm sick of seeing and touching Both sides of things  Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody 

Nobody  Can talk to anybody Without me 


I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister  My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists  The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks  To the ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the  Black separatists to the artists the artists to the my friends' parents. .

Then I've got to explain myself 

To everybody  I do more translating  Than the Gawdamn U.N. 

Forget it  I'm sick of it 

I'm sick of filling in your gaps 

Sick of being your insurance against  The isolation of your self-imposed limitations  Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners  Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches  Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people 

Find another connection to the rest of the world  Find something else to make you legitimate Find some other way to be political and hip  I will not be the bridge to your womanhood  Your manhood  Your human-ness 

I'm sick of reminding you not to  Close off too tight for too long 

I'm sick of mediating with your worst self  On behalf of your better selves

I am sick  Of having to remind you to breath Before you suffocate  Your own fool self. 

Forget it 

Stretch or drown  Evolve or die 

The bridge I must be 
Is the Bridge to my own power
I must translate My own fears
Mediate  My own weaknesses
I must be the bridge to nowhere 
But my true self  And then
I will be useful.