I see clearly that despite all the brilliant and powerful work of transnational and women of color feminist activists and scholars, we are still struggling for liberation in all different kinds of ways. I have also used her work and words as inspiration in a variety of other settings: facilitating community events, leading workshops and seminars, and to offer public reflections about difficult issues on my blog.
I thought about how much violence is enacted by men because of what they perceive as a threat to their masculinity, sexuality, or authority. Published in , this essay by Lorde is still very significant, particularly in her analysis of the connections between different forms of violence:. But the Black male consciousness must be raised to the realization that sexism and woman-hating are critically dysfunctional to his liberation as a Black man because they arise out of the same constellation that engenders racism and homophobia.
Until that consciousness is developed, Black men will view sexism and the destruction of Black women as tangential to Black liberation rather than as central to that struggle. So long as this occurs, we will never be able to embark upon that dialogue between Black women and Black men that is so essential to our survival as a people.
The continued blindness between us can only serve the oppressive system within which we live. Sister Outsider , While her context for this essay is the United States, her analysis is useful for other communities of color and postcolonial societies.
In other words, her words ring true for me as I think of the Caribbean context and the Bahamas in particular. While things have changed since I was growing up, we still have a huge problem with domestic violence and sexual abuse across the Caribbean. Certainly, this is not only a problem in the Caribbean or among communities of color in the United States; in fact, we know that domestic violence crosses racial and class lines.
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But what I am pointing out here is exactly what Lorde argued almost 30 years ago: to discuss violence and the abuses that Black women experience must include a dialogue about racism, sexism, and homophobia within the larger context of white capitalist patriarchy. Lorde suggests that in order to stop the abuse, we must begin the dialogue. And we cannot accept some forms of violence and condemn others.
At the root of this work, Lorde insists there must be self definition.
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Since Black people are also threatened by difference, Lorde says we must be wary of ignoring and misnaming difference; thus, within the struggle for revolutionary change and liberation, we must define ourselves outside oppressive structures Sister Outsider , These formulations of the erotic are powerful and remain valuable for feminist criticism, scholarship, and activism. Teaching Audre Lorde and continuing to study and write about her work has been incredibly sustaining and useful for my own feminist praxis and pedagogy.
As my ancestral guide, Lorde sustains me and gives me the courage to create change in all that I do. I know change must begin on the ground, and that we must all take responsibility for creating and sustaining movements. But we also need to hold leaders and governments accountable. We need to expect something better from those who engage in public discourse, especially the mainstream news. We need public language and new our voices to talk about issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and other aspects of difference. We need honesty and real dirty talk. We need people to be able to express their anger in useful ways and channel these energies into change.
Her theories about the uses of anger in an early s moment in which Black feminist scholars and organizers were calling out white women about their racism can be useful for us now — given the lack of public discourse on race, class, gender, and sexuality. Lorde explains why her response to racism is anger, how it should make us all angry, and how we can use this anger:.
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My response to racism is anger. I have lived with that anger, ignoring it, feeding upon it, learning to use it before it laid my visions to waste, for most of my life. Once I did it in silence, afraid of the weight. My fear of anger taught me nothing. Get an immediate offer. Get the item you ordered or get your money back. Learn more - opens in new window or tab. Contact seller. Visit store.
The Magic and Fury of Audre Lorde: Feminist Praxis and Pedagogy
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Fury: Women Write About Sex, Power and Violence edited by Samantha Trenoweth
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