On Remembering Our Lorde and Refusing to be Silent or Silenced


I love meditating on the words of Audre Lorde, the phenomenal Caribbean American writer, feminist, lesbian, librarian, and activist. She wrote several profound works on the intimate contours of oppression and the possibilities of reclaiming our individual and collective power. She called us to be our whole and erotic selves. This task is not easy because…

“There’s always someone asking you to underline one piece of yourself– whether it’s Black, woman, mother, dyke, teacher, etc. Because that’s the piece that they need to key in to. They want to dismiss everything else.” -Audre Lorde

Lorde lived out her final years on St. Croix, USVI. Therefore, I think that it’s imperative that I remember her work on this blog as her poems, essays, and books remind me to speak.

I find that a lot of what I say about racism, sexism, hetero normative patriarchy and decolonization is often “bruised and misunderstood”. Decolonization is an uncomfortable process. It forces us to see the injustices that we would rather ignore. It is difficult, painful even, to confront the parts of ourselves that are invested in the very oppression we seek to dismantle.

“The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations that we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us.” -Lorde

Unfortunately, clinging to the oppressor within makes it downright uncomfortable, if not impossible, to reach out and have candid loving dialogs with one another.

So, why speak?

…because Audre Lorde calls us to:

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive– A Litany for Survival


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