The late Audre Lorde was a revolutionary in the world of LGBTQ+, Black, and intersectional-feminist literature. She created within her legacy several pieces of work advocating for the civil liberties of those who, like herself, lived within the confines of society’s most marginalised groups. She holds several poems, essays, and books under her authorship, many of which draw from her experiences as an openly black lesbian in post-WWII America, and the elements of ageism and ableism she experienced as a sufferer of breast cancer.
Raised in America as the child of Caribbean immigrants, Lorde’s life as one of the most influential poets, activists, and educators of the late 20th century is defined by her journey of liberation from oppression and ostracization through her writing.
Perhaps her most poignant work (as well as my favourite) is seen in the ‘Sister Outsider’ collection, consisting of several speeches and essays that deeply explore widespread mechanisms of institutional oppression and injustice, and provides us with the reasoning and hope necessary to dismantle these unfair systems. Works within the book include ‘Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference’, an essay that addresses the seemingly insurmountable differences between groups, especially within the feminist and pro-LGBTQ+ movements, by stating that it is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognise those differences that causes this separation.
Her poignantly titled speech, ‘The Master’s tools will never be able to dismantle the Master’s house’, highlights the inherently oppressive nature of the expectation of marginalised groups to educate their oppressors. These philosophical reasonings shared in Lorde’s work have become relevant once more in recent events such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lorde’s poetry and prose constantly offered up a representation of herself, a self-defined Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet, and those felt to be ‘othered’ by society.