31 Audre Lorde Quotes On Racism And Love: Politics Is Personal

Oppression is an unfortunate given in the likes of race, gender, and sexuality. Over the years, several people have fought against discrimination and oppression that happens on the basis of the above.

The 20th century gave birth to a fierce poet who ticked the categories of this trifecta – a black female who was also a lesbian. Audre Lorde is a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet.”

She dedicated all of her life towards activism that tackles society’s most oppressive practice and continually created awareness on how to be intersectional. She braved breast cancer and a mastectomy, going on to become one of the most iconic black, female poets of all time. Read on to find some Audre Lorde quotes that shook the world.

31 Audre Lorde Quotes That Transformed the World of Intersectionality

Audre Lorde Quotes on Racism

#1. “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” – Audre Lorde, The Master’s Tools: The Wisdom of Audrey Lorde

#2. “Black writers, of whatever quality, who step outside the pale of what black writers are supposed to write about, or who black writers are supposed to be, are condemned to silences in black literary circles that are as total and as destructive as any imposed by racism.” – Audrey Lorde

#3. “Anger is an appropriate reaction to racist attitudes, as is fury when the actions arising from those attitudes do not change.” – Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism

#4. “Black women sharing close ties with each other, politically or emotionally, are not the enemies of Black men.” – Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

#5. “It is not the destiny of black America to repeat white America’s mistakes. But we will, if we mistake the trappings of success in a sick society for the signs of a meaningful life.” – Audre Lorde

#6. “Freedom and future for blacks do not mean absorbing the dominant white male disease.” – Audre Lorde

#7. “As black people, we cannot begin our dialogue by denying the oppressive nature of male privilege. And if black males choose to assume that privilege, for whatever reason, raping, brutalizing, and killing women, then we cannot ignore black male oppression. One oppression does not justify another.” – Audre Lorde, Conversations with Audre Lorde

Audrey Lorde Quotes on Intersectional Feminism

#8. “What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heelprint upon another woman’s face? What woman’s terms of oppression have become precious and necessary to her as a ticket into the fold of the righteous, away from the cold winds of self-scrutiny?” – Audre Lorde

#9. “We welcome all women who can meet us, face to face, beyond objectification and beyond guilt.” – Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism

#10. “Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.” – Audre Lorde, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle.

#11. “The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.” – Audre Lorde

#12. “The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.” – Audre Lorde

Audrey Lorde Quotes on Resistance

#13. “When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde, When I Dare to Be Powerful

#14. “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.” – Audre Lorde

#15. “My anger has meant pain to me but it has also meant survival, and before I give it up I’m going to be sure that there is something at least as powerful to replace it on the road to clarity.” – Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism

#16. “The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” – Audre Lorde

#17. “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.” – Audre Lorde, The Transformation Of Silence Into Language And Action

#18. “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” – Audre Lorde

#19. “But the question is a matter of the survival and the teaching. That’s what our work comes down to. No matter where we key into it, it’s the same work, just different pieces of ourselves doing it.” – Audre Lorde

#20. “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.” v Audre Lorde

#21. “If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough.” – Audre Lorde

#22. “To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our society.” – Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

#23. “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

#24. “As we come to know, accept, and explore our feelings, they will become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas—the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action.” – Audre Lorde

#25. “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” – Audre Lorde, Learning from The 60s

#26. “Revolution is not a one-time event.” – Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

#27. “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” – Audre Lorde

Audrey Lorde Quotes on Love

#28. “Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever / Only, nothing is eternal.” – Audre Lorde

#29. “Every woman I have ever known has made a lasting impression on my soul.” – Audre Lorde

#30. “Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me, where I loved some invaluable piece of myself apart from me—so different that I had to stretch and grow in order to recognize her. And in that growing, we came to separation, that place where work begins.” – Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

#31. “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” – Audre Lorde

Today, there exists a fellowship under Lorde’s name from the National Endowment for Arts. “Warrior Poet”, penned in 2006 by Alexis de Veux, is a full-length biography that narrates Lorde’s life story. Audre Lorde didn’t just appeal to people in the United States, but went on to make an impact on the whole world with her canonical essays and poetry.

Image source: Audre Lorde photo by Stephen A. Maglott