Audre Lorde On Finding Our Voice
I find myself in need of a gentle reminder from a woman I admire. I share this with you in hopes that together, we can work to speak out, in whatever form that takes. Maybe we use our voices, maybe our words. Maybe we use our actions, or our clothes. The point is to allow ourselves to take up space. And to support each other to do the same.
" I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect...
My silences [have] not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.
...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?
...For us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone we can survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.
And it is never without fear—of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgement, of pain, of death. But we have lived through all of those already, in silence...
And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in the pertinence of our lives. That we not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own...
We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For 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.
...I speak these words [as] an attempt to break the silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken."
— Audre Lorde
Source: Sister Outsider, "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action." pp. 40-44. Feature artwork: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Light of the Lit Wick, 2017 via Jack Shainman Gallery