Oct, 3rd. 2020
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences” (Audre Lorde). Audre Lorde described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” and proved that description to be true in many of her works like, I Am Your Sister; Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities and Undersong; Chosen Poems Old and New. She dedicated her life to informing the public about social issues and actively advocating for those issues to be fixed.
Photo from: Opera.com
Audre Geraldine Lorde was born on February 18, 1934 to immigrant parents in New York City. She began to love writing, and advocating about the issues surrounding race, gender, and sexuality when she was just a teenager. Lorde received her BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree from Hunter College after working to support herself during her school years. She furthered her education more by working to receive her master’s degree in library science from Columbia University in 1961. She married her husband Edwin Rollings in 1962 and had two children with him, but later divorced as neither of them were heterosexual.
In 1968, Lorde’s first volume of poetry, First Cities, was published. That same year she began to teach at Tougaloo College as a poet-in-residence, after leaving her job as head librarian at a library in New York City. While in that position she published Cables to Rage, her second volume of poetry, which covered the topics of love, deceit, family, and her own sexuality. From a Land Where Other People Live, her third volume of poetry, was highly praised when it was released. This book, which was nominated for a National Book Award, covered issues of identity and aired her grievances about global issues as well as her next work, New York Head Shop and Museum. Lorde also wrote essays to contribute more of her personally experiences to “feminist theory, critical race studies, and queer theory”. One of these essays, “The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House”, was one of the first to cover the topic of intersectionality and how it affects people.
Audre Lorde was diagnosed with cancer in 1984, but that didn’t hinder any of her writing and activism. In 1980 she published The Cancer Journals and it is highly “regarded as a major work of illness narrative”. In this book she confronts the possibility of death and addresses stigma around illness and the lived experience of minority groups. In 1981 she founded the Kitchen Table: Women of the Color Press with author Barbara Smith. This organization was dedicated to cultivating and promoting the writings of feminists of color. Around this time period she became very concerned over the mistreatment of Black Women under apartheid in South Africa, so she created Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa and continued advocating for their rights for the rest of her life.
Audre Lorde passed away from cancer on November 17, 1992 on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. She wrote and spoke up for others rights up until her eventual death. She left behind many essays and works of poetry, along with her legacy of fighting for change. Lorde used her words to create change and once said, “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”.