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review 2017-01-27 15:02
Sister Outsider
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches - Audre Lorde

his book is everything. It's been slow going to figure out how to review it or just talk about it. It just has everything in here from systemic issues in government and society to systemic issues within feminism itself.

I'd been meaning to read Sister Outsider for a while but kept putting it off until I made it my Letter S read for Litsy A to Z. That's the beauty of reading challenges, they make you actually sit down and decide that now is when I'm going to read this or that book that I'd been meaning to pick up.

I was a little underwhelmed by the first essay, which is mostly about a visit to Russia. What I did appreciate about this was the acknowledgement that communism isn't the answer either. Capitalism has many issues, but I'm hardpressed to consider them lesser problems to communism, but maybe that just where I lean right.

After the essay on Russia, every essay got me more pumped. It was the perfect book to be reading while gearing up for the women's march last weekend. There were so many lines and paragraphs that have given language to things I was seeing but not quite able to fully digest, like this one:

Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs upon the reasons they are dying.

It is so powerful. And it's like this over and over again with different topics.

The essay about raising a son echoed many of my own concerns about my son, who is only 6 now. I took him with me to the women's march and I hope that he's glad he went when he's old enough to understand what we were doing there. It's a concern that he'll not see it when he gets older (unless we've somehow reached equality by then but I don't see it as likely) but I am certainly less worried about the things that she is. It's a contrast that must be remembered when we choose what to take a stand.

Much of the book brings about questions about how the treatment women of color. It makes me more aware of the fact that sometimes I could hurt things when I'm trying to help. It's a reminder not to speak for women of color but to find ways to propel their voices.

It did tweak me a bit that Lorde consistently neglected to capitalize America, but I get it. By tweak, I do not mean annoy. It's a style choice and it makes it's own statement. It did it's job to demonstrate the demotion in importance of the country as opposed to the black population, as she consistently capitalized Black when talking about the population. I understand it, though you can see that I can't quite bring myself to do it. It is one of the subtleties of an essay written by a poet.

As mentioned in my TTT on Tuesday, I already know that this is one of those books whose sentiments will not leave me any time soon. Since the first time I poked a toe into the world of what feminist politics mean and what they mean to me, the divide between white feminists and black feminists has been a point of contemplation and discussion. The terms perturb me and I more often call myself an intersectional feminist, since I am neither black nor completely white and my ideals don't completely line up with either. As Lorde indicates, though, we do not have to completely agree on all problems, how to handle them, or how to prioritize them in order for us all to work together as feminists. But we do need to remember both our differences and our similarities to do this adequately.

It's hard to have a "favorite part" in a book like this, but it is this paragraph that my mind keeps coming back to as the sentiment that I've seen in many places about integrating the rest of the population with the white feminists that seem to so often forget everyone else in their climb to parity with men:

You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same. What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities. And in order to do this, we must allow each other our differences at the same time as we recognize our sameness.

Given the many women of color that I saw in DC on Saturday, I hope that we are already doing that. But I know in herstory that women of color help to propel the voice for the cause and then get shut out of it once the men are at the table to negotiate. We must not let it happen again.

This is one of those books that all feminists must read, that women in general should read, and that would be a great addition to any course, conference, or book club or anything on social justice in general or feminism specifically.

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review 2016-01-04 00:32
The Black Unicorn
The Black Unicorn: Poems - Audre Lorde

A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of my ambitions for 2016 was to read more poetry. A few days ago I found a couple of reviews over on GR which recommended Lorde's work.


I have no intention of writing much about my impressions of her poetry or try an interpretation based on the author's life and experience (as if I could). Some of the poems were more tangible than others, but I thought I'd offer up some examples:




It has rained for five days


the world is

a round puddle

of sunless water

where small islands

are only beginning

to cope

a young boy

in my garden

is bailing out water

from his flower patch

when I ask him why

he tells me

young seeds that have not seen



and drown easily.




Lacking what they want to see

makes my eyes hungry

and eyes can feel

only pain.


Once I lived behind thick walls

of glass

and my eyes belonged

to a different ethic

timidly rubbing the edges

of whatever turned them on.

Seeing usually

was a matter of what was

in front of my eyes

matching what was

behind my brain.

Now my eyes have become

a part of me exposed

quick risky and open

to all the same dangers.


I see much

better now

and my eyes hurt.


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quote 2014-03-01 20:02
Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.

Audre Lorde (via my Politics of Gay Marriage Class, contributed by a classmate who found it on tumblr)

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quote 2013-07-13 23:33
"The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House".

(This is the only essay I have read from "Sister, Outsider"; so I must read the rest of it.)
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches - Audre Lorde,Cheryl Clarke

Audre Lorde



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review 2011-06-21 00:00
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - Audre Lorde in college, in the late 80s and early 90s, i discovered that i had two aunts. this is one (and this is another). aunt Audre intimidated me at first. she was a stern, moody, melancholy woman who had lived a life of so many ups and downs. but as i got to know her, her innate gentleness became clear. this was a woman with so much empathy and understanding for the people around her. this was a lady who had felt pain in her life and would be able to understand my pain as well. she told me stories of that life and those stories were filled with poetry and passion. she told me about growing up in harlem; she told me what it felt like to be an outsider. she told me about her own weaknesses, her own cruelties, and how she was able to move past them and to forgive them, to forgive herself by understanding herself. she showed me how our lives are of our own creation, how our biography is our personal mythology is our own personal reality is our own personal way that we define ourselves in order to survive. she celebrated and she mourned and she deepened my spirit. i fucking love you, Audre Lorde! such a guiding influence.
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