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Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  29,281 ratings  ·  2,221 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
Best feeling is when you finish a book and you're like...why did I wait so long?

I don't like reviewing nonfiction, because then it's just my thoughts vs facts, and usually the facts are presented by someone far smarter, more knowledgeable, and cooler than me.

And in this case...Audre Lorde beats me out on all three categories.

So - this is excellent and you should read it and that's the whole review.

Bottom line: Just read it!!


reading books by Black authors for Black History Month!
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
Jul 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring and beautiful, a necessary read.
"We do not have to romanticize our past in order to be aware of how it seeds our present. We do not have to suffer the waste of an amnesia that robs us the lessons of the past rather than permit us to read them with pride as well as deep understanding."

"The move to render the presence of lesbians and gay men invisible in the intricate fabric of Black existence and survival is a move which contributes to fragmentation and weakness in the black community.
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
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Frequently, when speaking with men and white women, I am reminded of how difficult and time-consuming it is to have to reinvent the pencil every time you want to send a message

This is my first time reading Audre Lorde and man..... I am kicking myself for not getting to her essays sooner. I learned so much, she speak of things that frustates me that I can't seem to put into word, and I'm shocked and not really surprised that the things she wrote about now are still plaguing us today.... *sigh*
✨    jami   ✨
"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
Mar 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I could read her writing all day
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.

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
Oct 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm lost. She's lost. We don't see each other clearly. She is my mirror. Her existence is etched with my fury. So it gives me vision -- an anger that hides a yearning for connection. An anger that hides my need to be touched by her; to be held by her; to be oiled by her. But I fear she will see in my face the distorted image of her self-hatred: so I have no desire to get over the anger fomented by her appearance, by the vision of her existence. It's easier to erect the myth of my superiority and ...more
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
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
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
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
“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
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
may ➹
“The way you get people to testify against themselves is not to have police tactics and oppressive techniques. What you do is build it in so people learn to distrust everything in themselves that has not been sanctioned, to reject what is most creative in themselves to begin with, so you don’t even need to stamp it out.”

Audre Lorde’s works in this collection are a must-read, its topics ranging from the intersecting difficulties of being a Black lesbian woman in a racist, homophobic, misogynistic
Megan O'Hara
a 190 page salve for the goddamn soul
Areeb Ahmad (Bankrupt_Bookworm)
"For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support."

I read Audre Lorde for the first time through a tiny turquoise Penguin Modern edition in 2018 in December sitting outside the New Delhi Railway Station on the footpath in the winter cold while I wa
 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
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
Phenomenal! Required reading!
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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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