Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches” as Want to Read:
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  18,713 ratings  ·  1,318 reviews
Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is inc ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Crossing Press (first published June 1st 1984)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sister Outsider, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Raines If you have access to an internet connection, you can create an account at There is an online copy available there. :)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,713 ratings  ·  1,318 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
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
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest books of all time by one of the most brilliant minds of all time.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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
✨    jamieson   ✨
"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
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
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily Mac Rae
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
 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
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is quite possibly the most important book I've read all year.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Megan O'Hara
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a 190 page salve for the goddamn soul
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic, feminism
I'm shook. While I've read several of these essays in my college days (and beyond), finally reading this iconic collection in its entirety is to fully understand the scope of Audre Lorde's goodness, her vulnerability and her warrior-queer-rebel genius. I have not read any full poetry collections from Lorde, but I really damn well should, because Lorde may be one of the most visionary revolutionaries I've ever read.

What impresses me most about Lorde is how she can incite action while making room
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
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly felt like she sees and understands me.
Anna Luce
“Your silence will not protect you.”

Xian Xian
1. A collection of essays and speeches by Audre Lorde. A lot of people have read this since she is definitely one of the most important and influential women in history. Which is why my words on it aren't really that important because it's no different than anyone else's.

2. I don't read a lot of non-fiction but this was written in a way where I could easily digest it without clawing my eyes out. It is written in her lovely voice by her lovely fingers.

3. She is delicate and strong, knowing that s
Never Without a Book
I was introduce to Audre years ago, but I never read any of her work. I'm not sure why I waited so long, but Sister Outsider was absolutely fantastic. What blows my mind about this book is that it was written in the 80's and sad to say not much has change when it comes to sexism, racism, ageism and homophobia today. Not only was Lorde a poet she was an activist of
hate crimes. One of the essay Lorde wrote that I found very interesting was the story of 20 year old Patricia Cowan. Patricia was an a
Jacob Wren
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Brunch Babes Reads: Spoiler Discussion for Sister Outsider 1 6 Jun 01, 2019 10:04PM  
Brunch Babes Reads: General Discussion for Sister Outsider 1 7 Jun 01, 2019 10:03PM  
Our Shared Shelf: Sister Outsider - 30+ years 4 479 Apr 08, 2019 06:35PM  
500 Great Books B...: Sister Outsider - Audre Lorde 4 48 Feb 12, 2019 11:23PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
  • How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective
  • Are Prisons Obsolete?
  • The Fire Next Time
  • Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism
  • Women, Race & Class
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
  • How to Be an Antiracist
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
  • All About Love: New Visions
  • So You Want to Talk About Race
  • Assata: An Autobiography
  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
  • The End of Policing
  • Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
See similar books…
Audre Lorde is 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 P ...more

Articles featuring this book

There is no shortage of high-profile book clubs to join these days. But which ones match your reading tastes? Would you adore a Reese...
50 likes · 60 comments
“Your silence will not protect you.” 2690 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.” 443 likes
More quotes…