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Sister Outsider

Essays and Speeches

Audre Lorde

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Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature.

"[Lorde's] works will be important to those truly interested in growing up sensitive, intelligent, and aware."-The New York Times

In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde-scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde's philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published.

These landmark writings are, in Lorde's own words, a call to "never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is . . . "

"An eye-opener" --Publishers Weekly

"[Sister Outsider is] another indication of the depth of analysis that black women writers are contributing to feminist thought." --Barbara Christian, PhD, author of Black Feminist Criticism: Perspectives on Black Women Writers

A writer, activist, and mother of two,
Audre Lorde grew up in 1930s Harlem. She earned a master’s degree in library science from Columbia University, received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for poetry, and was New York State’s Poet Laureate from 1991 to 1993. She is the author of twelve books, including
Zami and
The Black Unicorn. Lorde died of cancer at the age of fifty-eight in 1992.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 192
Erscheinungsdatum 01.08.2007
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-1-58091-186-3
Verlag Ten Speed Press
Maße (L/B/H) 22.8/15.6/1.4 cm
Gewicht 244 g


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  • Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women and Loving

    Racism: The belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance.
    Sexism: The belief in the inherent superiority of one sex and thereby the right to dominance.
    Heterosexism: The belief in the inherentsuperiority of one pat, tern of lovingand thereby its right to dominance.
    Homophobia: The fear of feelings of love for members of one's own sexand therefore the hatred of those feelings in others.

    THEABOVE FORMS of human blindness stem from the same root - an inability to recognize the notion of difference as a dynamic human force, one which is enriching rather than threatening to the defined self, when there are shared goals.

    To a large degree, at least verbally, the Black community has moved beyond the "two steps behind her man" concept of sexual relations sometimes mouthed as desirable during the sixties. This was a time when the myth of the Black matriarchy as a social disease was being presented by racist forces to redirect our attentions away from the real sources of Black oppression.

    For Black women as well as Black men, it is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others - for their use and to our detriment. The development of self-defined Black women, ready to explore and pursue our power and interests within our communities, is a vital component in the war for Black liberation. The image of the Angolan woman with a baby on one arm and a gun in the other is neither romantic nor fanciful. When Black women in this country corne together to examine our sources of strength and support, and to recognize our common social, cultural, emotional, and political interests, it is a development which can only contribute to the power of the Black community as a whole. It can certainly never diminish it. For it is through the corning together of self-actualized individuals, female and male, that any real advances can be made. The old sexual power relationships based on a dominant/subordinate model between unequals have not served us as a people, nor as individuals.

    Black women who define ourselves and our goals beyond the sphere of a sexual relationship can bring to any endeavor the realized focus of completed and therefore empowered individuals. Black women and Black men who recognize that the development of their particular strengths and interests does not diminish the other do not need to diffuse their energies fighting for control over each other. We can focus our attentions against the real economic, political, and social forces at the heart of this society which are ripping us and our children and our worlds apart.

    Increasingly, despite opposition, Black women are corning together to explore and to alter those manifestations of our society which oppress us in different ways from those that oppress Black men. This is no threat to Black men. It is only seen as one by those Black men who choose to embody within themselves those same manifestations of female oppression. For instance, no Black man has ever been forced to bear a child he did not want or could not support. Enforced sterilization and unavailable abortions are tools of oppression against Black women, as is rape. Only to those Black men who are unclear about the pathways of their own definition can the self-actualization and self-protective bonding of Black women be seen as a threatening development.

    Today, the red herring of lesbian...baiting is being used in the Black community to obscure the true face of racism/sexism. Black women sharing close ties with each other, politically or emotionally, are not the enemies of Black men. Too frequently, however, some Black men attempt to rule by fear those Black women who are more ally than enemy. These tactics are expressed as threats of emotional rejection: "Their poetry wasn't too bad but I couldn't take all