Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Audre Lorde, on not being silent . . .

"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. [...] In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality [she was diagnosed with cancer] 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.

I was going to die, if not sooner than later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had 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 into silence? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am a lesbian, because I am myself — a Black woman warrior poet doing my work — come to ask you, are you doing yours?

(From Sister/Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde), 1984)

3 Comments:

Blogger euskir said...

Those words are full of meaning, every little letter, silence it's only interesting in music, in life silence it's most of the time a painful experience.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Antinormative Geek said...

I recommend The Cancer Journals - I think you are quoting from an essay that was published both in Sister Outsider and The Cancer Journals.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous hi! said...

i think that audre lorde would argue that silence is interesting in life. In "An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich" Lorde is quoted saying, "I kept myself through feeling. I lived through it. And at such a subterranean level that I didn't know how to talk. I was busy feeling out other ways of getting and giving information an whatever else I could because talking just wasn't where it was at. People were talking all around me all the time-- and not either getting or giving much that was useful to them or to me."

sorry im writing a paper and googled something and this popped up so i replied..

5:36 PM  

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