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Audre Lorde quotes (showing 1-30 of 182)

“Your silence will not protect you.”
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
Audre Lorde
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
Audre Lorde
“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you.... What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language."

I began to ask each time: "What's the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?" Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, "disappeared" or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What's the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it's personal. And the world won't end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don't miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." And at last you'll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
Audre Lorde
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
Audre Lorde
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
Audre Lorde, Our Dead Behind Us: Poems
“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
remembering
we were never meant to survive”
Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn: Poems
tags: poem
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Audre Lorde
“The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house”
Audre Lorde
“Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.”
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
Audre Lorde
“Revolution is not a one time event.”
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
“A Litany for Survival

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
futures
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
remembering
we were never meant to survive.”
Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn: Poems
“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.”
Audre Lorde
“I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk throught the rain.”
Audre Lorde
“Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.”
Audre Lorde
“But the true feminist deals out of a lesbian consciousness whether or not she ever sleeps with women.”
Audre Lorde
“I am my best work - a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.”
Audre Lorde
“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.”
Audre Lorde
“I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do. I am going to write fire until it comes out of my ears, my eyes, my noseholes--everywhere. Until it's every breath I breathe. I'm going to go out like a fucking meteor!”
Audre Lorde
“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
Audre Lorde
“I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.”
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
“If you come as softly
As wind within the trees
You may hear what I hear
See what sorrow sees.

If you come as lightly
As threading dew
I will take you gladly
Nor ask more of you.

You may sit beside me
Silent as a breath
Only those who stay dead
Shall remember death.

And if you come I will be silent
Nor speak harsh words to you.
I will not ask you why, now.
Or how, or what you do.

We shall sit here, softly
Beneath two different years
And the rich earth between us
Shall drink our tears.”
Audre Lorde
“Unless one lives and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.”
Audre Lorde
“The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. ”
Audre Lorde
“We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.”
Audre Lorde
“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”
Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals
“Without community, there is no liberation.”
Audre Lorde
“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”
Audre Lorde
“Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose
the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution,
but more usually
we must do battle where we are standing.”
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

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