30+ quotes from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

Quotes from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Audre Lorde ·  190 pages

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“Your silence will not protect you.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Revolution is not a one time event.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose
the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution,
but more usually
we must do battle where we are standing.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“I know the anger lies inside of me like I know the beat of my heart and the taste of my spit. It is easier to be furious than to be yearning. Easier to crucify myself in you than to take on the threatening universe of whiteness by admitting that we are worth wanting each other.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“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.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Men who are afraid to feel must keep women around to do their feeling for them while dismissing us for the same supposedly "inferior" capacity to feel deeply. But in this way also, men deny themselves their own essential humanity, becoming trapped in dependency and fear.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human difference between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“How much of this truth can I bear to see and still live
unblinded?
How much of this pain
can I use?”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I'm not excluding you from the joining - I'm broadening the joining.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same. What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities. And in order for us to do this, we must allow each other our differences at the same time as we recognize our sameness.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“For within livin structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, our feelings were expected to kneel to thought as women were expected to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Whenever the need for some pretense of communication arises, those who profit from our oppression call upon us to share our knowledge with them. In other words, it is the responsibility of the oppressed to teach the oppressors their mistakes. I am responsible for educating teachers who dismiss my children’s culture in school. Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideasl The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves--along with the renewed courage to try them out.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Did you ever read my words, or did you merely finger through them for quotations which you thought might valuably support an already conceived idea concerning some old and distorted connection between us?”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master's concerns. Now we hear that is is the task of women of Color to educated white women - in the face of tremendous resistance - as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“I cannot shut you out the way I shut the others out, so maybe I can destroy you. Must destroy you?”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“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 of the lessons of the past rather than permit us to read them with pride as well as deep understanding. We know what it is to be lied to, and we know how important it is not lie to ourselves. We are powerful because we have survived, and that is what it is all about—survival and growth.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one's own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“If I participate, knowingly or otherwise, in my sister's oppression and she calls me on it, to answer her anger with my own only blankets the substance of our exchange with reaction. It wastes energy. And yes, it is very difficult to stand still and to listen to another woman's voice delineate an agony I do not share, or one to which I myself have contributed.It wastes energy. And yes, it is very difficult to stand still and to listen to another woman's voice delineate an agony I do not share, or one to which I myself have contributed.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“What better way is there to police the streets of a minority community than to turn one generation against the other?”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“As white women ignore their built-in privilege of whiteness and define woman in terms of their own experience alone, then women of Color become "other," the outsider whose experience and tradition is too "alien" to comprehend.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Somewhere, on the edge of consciousness, there is what I call a mythical norm, which each one of us within our hearts knows “that is not me.” In america, this norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, christian, and financially secure. It is with this mythical norm that the trappings of power reside within this society. Those of us who stand outside that power often identify one way in which we are different, and we assume that to be the primary cause of all oppression, forgetting other distortions around difference, some of which we ourselves may be practicing.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“Too often, we pour the energy needed for recognizing and exploring difference into pretending those differences are insurmountable barriers, or that they do not exist at all.”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is discounted as a luxury, then we give up the core -- the fountain -- of our power, our womanness; we give up the future of our worlds. (From "Poetry is Not a Luxury")”
― Audre Lorde, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


“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, quote from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches


About the author

Audre Lorde
Born place: in New York City, The United States
Born date February 18, 1934
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