Wednesday Warriors – Audre Lorde

Alright y’all, for my first Wednesday Warriors, get ready for a good ol’ lesson in feminists you should know.

Audre Lorde was a black, lesbian poet, essayist, and novelist born of immigrants in New York City. She wrote on many injustices, such as racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Her position as outsider led to her poetry frequently dealing with issues of difference between one’s self-understanding as well as one’s interaction amidst groups.

She is recognized as a starting point for the concept of intersectionality, arguing in her essays that while feminists made the distinction between man and woman, class, race, sexual orientation, among other things, were also deeply important issues in understanding one’s experience a woman; these things could not be separated from each other.

I talk about her now as a white feminist because of the proliferation of White Feminism™. It is important right now to commit to issues of rights in regards to race, gender, and sexual orientation, and for those white people who find their activist identities in feminism, it is important for us to understand exactly where we stand among multiple intersections. Audre Lorde’s work in this area is insightful, digestible, and enlightening, and I highly suggest reading, at minimum “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” (available with a google search I won’t link you to because legality is a whole question I don’t want to get involved in).

And of course, as we cannot forget that she is a poet, we can end on a poem of hers titled “A Woman Speaks”

Moon marked and touched by sun
my magic is unwritten
but when the sea turns back
it will leave my shape behind.
I seek no favor
untouched by blood
unrelenting as the curse of love
permanent as my errors
or my pride
I do not mix
love with pity
nor hate with scorn
and if you would know me
look into the entrails of Uranus
where the restless oceans pound.
I do not dwell
within my birth nor my divinities
who am ageless and half-grown
and still seeking
my sisters
witches in Dahomey
wear me inside their coiled cloths
as our mother did
mourning.
I have been woman
for a long time
beware my smile
I am treacherous with old magic
and the noon’s new fury
with all your wide futures
promised
I am
woman
and not white.

 

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