“The power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue genuine change within the world, rather than merely settling for a shift of characters in the same weary drama.”
“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? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears.
Because I am woman, because I am Black, because I am lesbian, because I am myself—a Black woman warrior poet doing my work—come to ask you, are you doing yours?”
“And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger. But my daughter, when I told her of our topic The Transformation of Silence 41 and my difficulty with it, said, “Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.”
I first learned about Audre Lorde in grad school. I loved the way she saw the erotic as a resource of power. I loved the way she proudly claimed all the parts of herself and encouraged others to speak up. “Your silence will not protect you.” And then there’s that question that jabs me to the core. “I am…doing my work. Are you doing yours?”
Happy Birthday, Audre Lorde
(Feb 18, 1924 – Nov 17, 1992)