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I have bad news. insisted on being all that she was: poet. Then I say.72. Lisa repeats: 'Audre died in St. 4 Dec 2012 07:21:15 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . where the sun and the sea are invigorating her. We had been taught that silence was golden. As I grieve her passing on. lesbian. woman. It is Lisa. though I should not be. refused to be limited to any one category. mother goddess followers to her Africangoddesses. though. See whose face it wears.168. The phone rings. poet.229 on Tue. her mother's island would save her body. Audre left for us her work . mother. feminist.profile Reinem Audre Lorde 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 there. Croix. Ah . one of the graduate students with whom I work: "Barbara." I will always hear her.words that many Remembering Audre Lorde can give you. Croix. . black. I had hoped.Audre Lord embodied and celebrated the differences between and within us. "Iwill never see her again.Audre . feminist. literary critics to her poetic craft. blacks to her race activism. Yet. Barbara Christian commemorates her life and work African-American women had been too afraid to speak. Agenda 21 This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. The islands. unprepared."Silence. activist. lesbian. Audre Lorde refused to be silenced. I know she had breast cancer for many years. Croix.if there is any tribute we I am stunned. it is to acknowledge all those parts of yourself without which you would not be you. I know she now lives in St." i Black American. my ancestral home. Audre has had breast cancer for many years. 'Audre Lordejust died in St. I cannot help but think of the irony that we split her into her separate parts: so many white feminist-lesbians respond only to her lesbianism." Silence. that it could protect you. warrior.. as our daily lives and statistics proclaimed. we were steadily being attacked from within our homes as well as from without.
Like other women. "ifwe speak we are afraid that our words will be used And if we do not speak We are still afraid So. am married." ('Alitany for survival'. Chosen Poems: Old and New) By the time I'd moved to California. articulating for us how the erotic RememberingAudreLorde This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. The black revolutionaries we thought ourselves to be could not be fragmented by such trivia. to be tainted by the white evil.72. became a model for many women who had begun to realize that when the words 'black liberation' were spoken they were not referring to us. Its puritanical tendencies do not relate closely enough to many people's lives. and protest. another kind of open As the diamond comes into a knot offlame I am Black because I come from the earth's inside now take my wordforjewel in the open light" ('Coal'. Her insistence on speaking as her entire self.profile "Loveis a word. which was clearly about sexual love between women. Unity was the call word of the day. I am writing a book on black women novelists and am known as a feminist. yet might as well be a single mother. In 1968. It was 1968. It is Audre's voice.229 on Tue. I heard the reverberation from coast to coast. a programme designed to prepare apparently in-educable blacks and Puerto Ricans for college. We were demanding our rights. 22 Agenda a Saturday as I clean the house. Audre had published 'love poem'. Audre. I am listening to the radio on I was beginning to realize the sexism within the Black Power Movement and was grappling for the words to express it. reminded us that we could not act for ourselves or others if we could not transform our silence into speech. it is better to speak knowing we were never meant to survive. In love with language. even if it was false unity. I have a child. Like Martin Luther at Wittenberg when he'd seceded from the powerful Catholic Church by tacking his precepts up on a church door. precisely because we were women. I'd read some of her poems and was inspired by the sinewy sound and honesty. to be a black and to be a homosexual (James Baldwin notwithstanding) was to be against the revolution. a voice from the Take Back the Night feminist rally in San Francisco. Audre's courage. I had been mute. I hear a voice I think I recognize. had tacked her poem up on her office door for all to see. our need to feel the connection between the pleasure we desire in our everyday lives and the political activity necessary to change our lives. It is 1978. Both of us were working in the Seek programme at City College. the librarian. whatever the consequences. her honesty. a lesbian. I did not then know that Audre was. yet feel troubled about European-American feminism. The Black Unicom) I remember the first time I met Audre. in 1971.168. we talked about poetry. insisting on structural transformation of the education system. silenced by the black rhetoric of the period. 4 Dec 2012 07:21:15 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . New York. about social change.
lesbiani and hleterosexuial zvomen alike. lamtentation sutspicion. The Cancer Joumals (1980). old strulsctures of oppression.nor the earthl that suipports Ius. can Chlangeummeans groWth. from "the inability to recognize the notion of difference as a dynamic humianforce which is enriching rather than threatening the defined self' ('Age. amidthese iiutst be altered at the sanie tinte as wve are a alter the living comiditions zwhichi resuilt of those strutctutres. race.. still condenmn uts to cosmetically altered repetitions of the saimieold exchtanges. For black and white. What Audre learned from her outsider position in society is that real change cannot occur unless we "stop killing the other in ourselves the self that we hate in others" ('Among ourselves. old and young. analyzing precisely how political struggle is connected to our understanding of our desires. and with the numbness which so often seems like their only altemative in our society. anid recrinmination.-. For ive hiave butilt into all of uts. motivated and empoweredfrom within. her non-fiction. energizes our lives. Sister Outsided In work published during the 1980s her biomythography Zami (1982).thietrue focius of revolutionary clhange is never merely the oppressive situations zvliclh zweseek to escape butt thtepiece is planted deep of the oppressor zvwhichi knozvs zvithiin eachi of its. her poetry collection.168. that racism. Our Dead Behind Us (1986) . class and sex'). Even those in search of social change tend to be intolerant of differences among their own constituents and thus recreate the societal pattern they claim to be opposed to. a burst of light') Her analysis of this fear has had ramifications for just about eveiry area Remembering Audre Lorde Agenda 23 This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. (Sister Ouitsider) "When we begin to livefrom within outward.Audre emphasized the intersections of oppressions. the only oppressor's relationishiips. sexism. homophobia." ('The uses of the erotic'. althought sharing the samte goals. stem from the same source. 4 Dec 2012 07:21:15 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . then we begin to be responsible to ourselves in the deepest sense. Acts against oppression become integral with self. old blueprints of expectation and response. in touch with the power of the erotic within ourselves and allowing that power to inform and illuminate our action upon the world around us. Butt zwe shtarpen self-definiitioni by exposing the self in zvork and strtuggle together zvith those whom wve define as different from oturselves. her two collections of essays. no nmatter hiozv cleverly rearranged to i)ttitate progress.229 on Tue. we begin to give up. profile Ie depetd The fututireof thie eartlh inmay to upon the abilityi of all zvommienI identify anid develop nezv definitionts of pozver and nezv patterns of relating across difference. The old patterns.. For as we recognize our deepestfeelings. Sister Outsider (1984) and A Burst of Light (1988).72. and gro0Wth be painfiul. The old and nezv definitionis have not served uts. gtilt. and zvwhich the oppressors' tactics. being satisfied with suffering and self-negation. old the saime hatred. this can mean new paths to outrsuirvival. of necessity.
She could not be silent. so much so that the concept of difference as a creative force is today as 'natural' a part of our analyses of the world as the notion that oppressions exist. It was an event that symbolized so much of who Audre was. is a FullProfessorin BarbaraTChristian African-AmericanStudies at the of Califomiaat Berkeley. On May 14. A poet-thinker. protect mefrom throwing any part of myself away. She wrote The Cancer Journals some ten years before the media would acknowledge that breast cancer is virtually an epidemic in the US. She spoke not of loss but of blessing: that she had been "blessed to believe passionately. salt dragon of chaos. Audre Lorde clarified for us the multiplicity that each of us is. from our sexuality to education. Rejecting a 'mythical norm'. when she spoke at Stanford University. To know that our voices are being raised. By then. hold me in your muscular glowering arms.229 on Tue. too. she championed the complexity of life. Seboulisa. because to be able to know what it feels like to put all of who you are behind something you believe is a priceless present. Audre Lord commemorated the significance of women in the anti-apartheid struggle as well as the life-sustaining force of poetry in social change movements. named it a blessing and gave that blessing to us. which Includes an essay on Audre Lorde'scollection of essays. but it is an invaluaible one. Sisters Against Apartheid put together a poetry meeting to honour our sisters in South Africa. 1985. It is a very uiportant lesson. Audre learned that she had breast cancer. she stressed the gift of learning to use one's power: "Itis importantfor black South Africans to know they are not alone. LO I last saw Audre at the peak of the divestment movement at the University of California at Berkeley. notably Black Women Novelists. In working out of those loves and beliefs. Mawu. to love deeply and to be able to work out those loves and beliefs"'. Audre enlarged the race-feminist theory of that period. she knew that the cancer had 24 Agenda Remembering Audre Lorde This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. Attend me.72.profile of our lives. I last heard her voice in 1988. as so many women had been.168." (Against Apartheid') In 1978. 4 Dec 2012 07:21:15 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The Development of a Tradition(1892-1976) and Black Feminist Criicism: Perspectives on Black Women Writers. metastasized to her liver. Together with the Native-American poet Paula Gunn Allen. As she rose to speak with women from all over the world about an issue to which she had been unstintingly committed. from the meaning of our identities to political coalition work. the Japanese-American poet Janice Mirikitani and the Chicana poet Cherri Moraga. Black mother goddess. to know that leaming to use your power is not a free lesson.She University is the authorof books on African-Americanwomen writers. Sister Outsider.
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