With more than fifteen books and a litany of short-story and poetry publications, Audre Lorde dedicated her life to activism. Not limiting herself to a single cause, she took her own experiences as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” to speak for many. Utilizing every facet of her identity to uplift and advocate for those like her, she left behind a legacy of unity in seeking equality for the underrepresented at her death.
Audre Lorde – Womanist Advocacy
Lorde believed in the equality of all regardless of race, sex, creed, or ability. Beyond that standard, she believed that unification should not negate the intrinsic individualism that defines each person. Unifying women under a general ideology without the express understanding of each woman’s originality based on their experiences is harmful. Lorde expressed this theory of intersectionality through her writing. She campaigned for womanism, not feminism, which focused on her multifaceted identity. A theory that is “family-oriented” and focuses on race, class, and gender, while feminism is “female-oriented” and purely focuses on biological sex-related issues related to women.
Roxane Gay compiles a collection of Audre’s most compelling works in The Selected Works of Audre Lorde. Inside you’ll find thought-provoking prose and poetry full of passion, vehemence, and intelligence that pushes against conservative tradition.
“What woman here is so enamoured of her own oppression that she cannot see her heelprint upon another woman’s face?”Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider
More Than Just a Woman
In her novel Sister Outsider, Lorde writes several essays and speeches that tackle political topics of sexism, racism, and homophobia, as well as other sensitive topics, in hopeful and insightful prose that calls for social change. Lorde painted a picture of what it was like living in a world tailored toward heterosexual white people. Her essays and speeches passionately defend and uplift those like her: black, a member of the LGBTQ community, and a child of immigrants.
“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, Sister Outsider
Chronic Illness Awareness for the Black Lesbian Woman
Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977 at the age of 43. By this time, she had already established herself as a gifted writer with profound insight. Undergoing the treatment for her ailment unearthed a lack of literature and resources designed to help women like her cope and understand what they were going through. Any texts she found were biased toward white, heterosexual women. Committed to bringing attention to the differences in women from varying backgrounds, Lorde wrote The Cancer Journals. This compilation of memoirs, journal entries, and educational exposition is a moving, emotionally charged novel discussing the hardships of living with cancer. She explored the social pressures to conform to body images after a mastectomy, the stigma of suffering in silence that women are ingrained to withstand, and the raw grief that comes with the diagnosis and treatment.
Though she has been gone for more than thirty years, her legacy shines brightly as a beacon for hope, equality, and social change.
“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”Audre Lorde
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