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43 Stan. L. Rev. 1183 (1990-1991)
Beside My Sister, Facing the Enemy: Legal Theory out of Coalition

handle is hein.journals/stflr43 and id is 1199 raw text is: Beside My Sister, Facing the Enemy:
Legal Theory Out of Coalition*
Mar J. Matsuda**
The Third Annual Conference on Women of Color and the Law, held in
October 1990 at Stanford Law School, was coalition: individuals from diver-
gent social backgrounds and positions coming together to work toward a
common goal. From all comers of the country hundreds of women and
dozens of men came. For the most part, they were law students, but their
differences in size, shape, color, hair, speech and attire were so wondrously
dramatic that no one wandering into the large auditorium where they gath-
ered would have thought, Ah, a meeting of law students. No, it looked
more like a convocation of proud tribes. Sitting in the sun on perfect Stan-
ford lawns, conference participants laughed and talked politics as though
they did this every weekend. White with Black, native with immigrant, les-
bian with straight, teacher with student, women with men-as though the
joy of communing across differences was their birthright.
Conference organizers and volunteers-themselves as diverse as their
guests-buzzed about busily in their official T-shirts, arranging rides, watch-
ing the clock, shepherding speakers, smoothing over misunderstandings.
Watching these students work so easily with each other almost made me
forget that a year of struggle, anger, tears, fears, and consciousness-raising
had brought them to their day in the sun. Each one had asked at some point
during that long year preceding the conference, Is it worth it?
Is it worth it? is the question every person who works in coalition
confronts.' This essay introduces the work of three writers who themselves
* This title was inspired by a line from PABLO NERUDA, Los VERSOS DEL CAPITAl( (The
Captain's Verses) (New Directions ed. 1972):
y en medio de la vida estare' siempre, junto al amigo, frente al enemigo
(and in the midst of life I shall be always beside the friend, facing the enemy)
This essay was written at the request of the Conference organizers, who sought an
introduction to the Trask, Inuzuka, and Parker presentations.
** © 1993 by Man J. Matsuda. Professor of Law, University of California at Los Angeles
School of Law. The author thanks the organizers of the Stanford Conference on Women of Color
and the Law, and the following colleagues who commented on drafts of this essay: Kimberl6 Cren-
shaw, Clarel Cyriaque, Charles R. Lawrence III, Lisa Lim, and Stephanie Wildman.
I. Bernice Johnson Reagon, in her well-known essay on coalition, said, You don't go into
coalition because you just like it. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Coalition Politics: Turning the Century,
in HOME GIRLS: A BLACK FEMINIST ANTHOLOGY 354 (Barbara Smith ed. 1983). She goes on to
state: And you shouldn't look for comfort. Some people will come to a coalition and they rate the


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