adding page because of this..
Audre Lorde on the Transformation of Silence into Language and the Empowering Vulnerability of Visibility https://t.co/hefxNAtCAe
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/NewBlackMan/status/734018009082236928
But against these fecund conceptions of silence stands silence of a very different kind — the oppressive muting of dissenting, divergent, and minority voices, imposed first from the outside and then from the inside. (James Baldwin captured this internalized oppression memorably: “It’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.”)
That oppressive silence and its most potent antidote are what the great Caribbean-American poet, essayist, feminist, lesbian icon, and anti-war, civil rights, and human rights activist Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934–November 17, 1992) explores in “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” — a galvanizing short paper delivered at Chicago’s Modern Language Association in 1977, later included in Lorde’s indispensable anthology Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (public library).
Lorde is writing shortly after her doctor discovered a tumor that turned out to be benign but forced her to confront her mortality in the agonizing three-week period of uncertainty. She reflects on the sobering urgency into which the experience shook her:
I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger… Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.
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. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence.
And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words.
And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.
Turning to the audience — and, across space and time, to us — Lorde issues a clarion call for introspection:
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?
my daughter, when I told her of our topic 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.”
In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear — fear of contempt, of censure, or some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think,
we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live…
And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.
we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.
A Litany For Survival: the Life and Work of Audre Lorde -Trailer -TWN
i’m finishing this piece of my bargain.. i don’t know the time or the shape.. all i know is it’s going to be quite diff.. what i leave behind has a life of its own
seeking nows that can breed future
i started writing because i had a need inside of me to create something that was not htere
Audre Lorde (/ˈɔːdri lɔːrd/; born Audrey Geraldine Lorde, February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was a Caribbean-American writer, radical feminist, womanist, lesbian, and civil rights activist. As a poet, she is best known for technical mastery and emotional expression, particularly in her poems expressing anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life. Her poems and prose largely dealt with issues related to civil rights, feminism, and the exploration of black female identity. In relation to white feminists in the United States, Lorde famously said, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”