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Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  23,661 ratings  ·  1,812 reviews
A collection of fifteen essays written between 1976 and 1984 gives clear voice to Audre Lorde's literary and philosophical personae. These essays explore and illuminate the roots of Lorde's intellectual development and her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers and the absolute necessity to explicate the conc ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published June 1st 1984 by Crossing Press
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Raines If you have access to an internet connection, you can create an account at There is an online copy available there. :)

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If you care about feminism, social justice, or making the world a better place in any way at all, you must read this book. Sister Outsider shook me to my core. Audre Lorde's brilliant, powerful, love-filled writing literally brought me to tears in a local Panera Bread. In this stunning collection of essays and speeches, she addresses the sheer necessity of intersectional feminism and supporting women of color, the importance of using our voices to speak up against injustice, the horrors inflicte ...more
There is something spellbinding about reading this book, as though one had stepped into a room where someone was speaking, quietly and clearly, and a crowd of people were listening intently, feeling together in mutual awareness and sympathy. It must be because I know so many women have read this book and felt their hearts answer Lorde. It must be because she is a poet and creates with words that space within us, that bridge where separate senses of being can cross and touch.

Perhaps the spell of
Tim Haslett
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Toni
Now wait, you've not read this book? Really? Maybe you're just kidding. "I have come to work on you like a drug or a chisel" wrote the late Audre Lorde. Her passing created a hollow space in my soul that is now filled again each time I read her prose & poetry.

Just because 'Sister Outsider' is assigned in virtually every women's studies and gender studies 101 class does not mean it is some awful book about soggy, liberal bureaucratic multiculturalism. Far from it.

Audre Lorde lived for a radical
Cinzia DuBois
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-books
I cannot express how much I fell in love with Audre.
This is genuinely one of my favourite books of all time, a claim I haven't laid on a book in quite some time (perhaps over a year now? Maybe longer!)

The extent of the notes I took during reading is immense. Her pages are plastered with sticky tabs and margin crawling. Everything about her writing is majestic and phenomenally intelligent.

I've come out of this book feeling like I spent the past few days in silence, holding hands with a poet as
Apr 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-read, usa
This book is of course a milestone of intersectional feminism, long before intersectional feminism was a thing - and considering the fact that Lorde spent a lot of time in Germany, it's pretty astounding that this is the first translation of her iconic collection of essays, speeches, and interviews that is published by a big publishing house here in Germany. Born in New York to immigrant parents from Barbados and Grenada, Lorde was a Black lesbian socialist feminist, and her main goal was to hei ...more
In her essay, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House," Audre Lorde quotes Simone de Beauvoir: "It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for acting."

Audre Lorde wrote about the genuine conditions of her life. She was a single mother. She was a black woman. A lesbian. A feminist. An educator. A poet. A daughter of immigrants. A cancer survivor. Her essays contextualize what is happening in the world r
Lucy Dacus
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest books of all time by one of the most brilliant minds of all time.
Anger is an appropriate reaction to racist attitudes, as is fury when the actions arising from those attitudes do not change. To those women here who fear the anger of women of Color more than their own unscrutinized racist attitudes, I ask: Is the anger of women of Color more threatening than the woman-hatred that tinges all aspects of our lives?
My latest favorite type of Tumblr blog is a variation on the theme of 'thisisnot_____', wherein a slew of responses to angry white tears let me kno
Oh, this book. Such a brilliant collection of essays, I won't even try to write a proper review. I'll just leave a quote from the essay The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism. This quote sums up what feminism is all about for me.
I am a lesbian woman of Color whose children eat regularly because I work in a university. If their full bellies make me fail to recognize my commonality with a woman of Color whose children do not eat because she cannot find work, or who has no children becaus
Sister Outsider was a really fantastic introduction to Audre Lorde for me, though its episodic nature isn't my favorite way to digest nonfiction and I think I would have preferred to stay on track with any one of these essays for a hundred pages rather than to bounce around from topic to topic the way this collection is structured (though all pieces are obviously interconnected to an extent). But still, this is a sharp and insightful and seminal work that I'd recommend. ...more
✨    jay   ✨
"For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him his own game, but they will never enable us to bring genuine change"

My first foray into Audre Lorde outside of the odd extract read in university and I loved it. This is absolutely essential reading for intersectional feminism, queer theory, Black Lesbian lit and just race/class/gender commentary. It is alarming how recent some of the issues Lorde brings up feel, not much has maybe chan
Audre Lorde was a poet, academic, speaker, feminist activist, sister and mother of two, who grew up in 1930’s Harlem. She wrote 12 books and tragically passed away at the age of 58 from cancer in 1992.

I’ve had her collection of essays Sister Outsider on my list of books I wanted to read for a few years, I came across it after reading an article or blog post that put it at or near the top of books one should read if interested in feminism, gender, equality. They are the kind of books that those w
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you will probably think this book sucks
the bible just not doing it for ya? feel disappointed by the christian science monitor? maybe not getting the guidance you need from the koran or buddha... this shit is a new religion- all the spiritual guidance you'll ever need. well. it's fucking good and smart and amazing and no good feminist worth their (gender unspecific) salt would go without referencing lorde.

the uses of the erotic, some notes and master's tools are absolute requirements if you don't wanna do the whole thing. oh. and, um
Nobody has the power quite like Audre to have you sit with her thoughts, argue them out with her, disagree, get angry that you're disagreeing because she has already called you out on it in her essay and then have you walk away, only to come back, calm and ready to learn at the hands of a woman with a brilliant mind, a way of breaking down her theories and thoughts in the clearest, most concise, most unflinching and most vulnerable way possible and the desire to have the world and most important ...more
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
A strong, powerful collection from a writer/activist/poet that I'm embarrassed to admit, I had not even heard of before I read a few reviews on GR. Lorde is honest, clear-eyed, caring and accessible. ...more
How I've gotten this far in my life without having read Audre Lorde I don't know but Sister Outsider should be required reading and it's something I anticipate returning to again in the future. It is a powerful, insightful, thought-provoking collection of essays from an eminent Black, lesbian, feminist poet and thinker. Her writing is by turns incisive, witty, raw, and vulnerable. She does not pull her punches, but is just as ruthless in critiquing her own biases and flaws as she is others.

Kevin Shepherd
“Audre Lorde’s voice is central to the development of contemporary feminist theory. She is at the cutting edge of consciousness.” ~Nancy K. Bereano, December 1983

One of the great gifts of reading, if you do it long enough, and hard enough, is that you have a greater awareness of all there is that you do not know. Lorde is, herself, a conveyer of such gifts. This brilliant, Black, lesbian, feminist poet brings to light an abundance of disparities between what is our perception and what is her rea
Emily Mac Rae
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. At times I look at the world and it's inequities and it makes me feel as if I am losing my mind. How can you look at the hurt and pain caused by the imbalance of power, the squandering of vital resources, pride exercised by the complete put down of whole groups of people and not want to scream. At the very least do some one thing to help the starving person next to you. I sometimes feel that I live in a world where many suffer but many more walk around as if they were anes ...more
Lily Herman
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think there's really much left to say about Audre Lorde (especially by me, a random ass white lady). I'll just say that there's a reason that Audre Lorde is Audre Lorde, and if you ever need proof of that, just read Sister Outsider.

I don't think you can read anything by Lorde and not furiously scribble down what she's telling you, so here's one of my favorite quotes from this collection: “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.”

Audre Lorde makes you feel them
Megan O'Hara
a 190 page salve for the goddamn soul
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What beautiful prose and so relevant. I've heard Audre Lorde quotes batted around all over the place and it was wonderful to read them in context. Unlike Lorde, I prefer prose to poetry (at least at this point in my life) so I really appreciated a poet talking about politics and life. Her essay on absorbing the hatred of racism as a child was really moving and one that I will return to. ...more
Shimin Mushsharat
This is Holy text!

“In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences.”

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? 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?”

“The principal horror of any system
 Imani ♥ ☮
I wavered back and forth for a good minute, trying to figure out if I would give this a four star rating or a five star rating. I resolved for five, just because I liked some of the essays more than others. All of them were stunning, but I especially liked Eye to Eye and her account on Moscow, Grenada and raising a black son as a black lesbian.

Audre Lorde has been like a haunt to me in some ways. A name I never felt I could pronounce properly. A name I heard but never read. A book written by a
This is quite possibly the most important book I've read all year. ...more
Ashley Marie
Fantastic. The audiobook does not lend itself well to the midsection interview in particular, but overall this was amazing. Audre Lorde speaks truth in the vein of James Baldwin and Malcolm X. I'm looking forward to rereading, and delving into more of her work. A highly recommended collection.

'Forward ever, backward never' is more than a mere whistle in the present dark.
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just incredible. I cannot believe this is the first time I’ve read anything by Audre Lorde! This collection is marvelous and moving - felt like good sized chunks to digest at a time, but many times I couldn’t help myself - her prose just drew me deeper and deeper and I couldn’t stop reading. Now I want to read as much of her poetry as I can get my hands on. These essays and speeches so eloquently illuminate the emotion and power of Lorde’s work. I particularly loved “Poetry is Not a Luxury” ...more
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.
p142, "Learning from the 60s"

I read this right on the tail of reading Zami: A New
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory-gender
Lorde was foundational to intersectionality, along with Angela Y. Davis (Women, Race, and Class).

The Good:
--The most striking essays to me are Lorde’s (often directly personal) reflections on dealing with non-intersectional feminism, other black women, and being a black lesbian mother while raising a boy. It seems clear that those who share closer experiences can instantly unlock vaults of memories and understanding from brief passages; for certain gulfs, all I can do is be receptive and appreci
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Sister Outsider was originally compiled in 1984 from poet Audre Lorde's speeches and essays. I listened to the audiobook produced in 2016, and narrated by Robin Eller. Let's get my critique of the audio out of the way - it was deplorable. Lorde's passionate and insightful words are ruined by narration that's closer to automaton than human. Buy the print version, as I will be doing soon.

That frustration aside, this book is a powerful work. Lorde's experiences as a black, feminist, lesbian mother
Viv JM
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a black lesbian feminist poet and “Sister Outsider” is a collection of her essays and speeches dating from 1976 to 1984. These are largely on themes of sexism, racism and homophobia and Lorde is not afraid to express her anger. Reading these essays 40 years later feels a little bit depressing as although a lot has changed there is so much more that hasn’t.

I did find this at times an uncomfortable read, and I think that is wholly a good thing. It feels like a really i
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Audre Lorde was a revolutionary Black feminist. Lorde's poetry was published very regularly during the 1960s — in Langston Hughes' 1962 New Negro Poets, USA; in several foreign anthologies; and in black literary magazines. During this time, she was politically active in civil rights, anti-war, and feminist movements. Her first volume of poetry, The First Cities (1968), was published by the Poet's ...more

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“Your silence will not protect you.” 2738 likes
“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.” 470 likes
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