Born in Harlem in 1934 to a family of Caribbean immigrants, Audre Lorde grew up to become a Black feminist icon and celebrated American poet, writer, and activist. Best known for her works exploring her own multifaceted identity, Lorde both struggled with and embraced the differences that made her unique—and the ones that drew her to others. A poet and self-described “warrior,” Lorde created a space for herself in America by writing about her personal experiences and advocating for freedom for people of color, the LGBTQ community, women, and oppressed communities around the globe.About the NarratorCamille Stennis is an audio editor, music composer and sound designer based out of Los Angeles, CA. She has a BFA in Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media from the Academy of Art University, and has also interned at companies such as Jingle Punks, Unified Films, and was previously the Head of Production at Jam Street Media supporting various creative productions in podcasting, music publishing and audio visuals. Currently, she works as an Audio Producer and Sound Designer for Rebel Girls. Camille is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, living happily with her wife and dogs.CreditsThis podcast is a production of Rebel Girls and is based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.This episode was produced by Camille Stennis. Sound design and mixing by Mumble Media. This episode was written by Alexis Stratton and fact checked by Joe Rhatigan. Executive Producer is Katie Sprenger. Haley Dapkus is our production manager. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. A big thanks to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this show possible! For more, visit rebelgirls.com. And if you like what you heard, don’t forget to rate and review this episode, and share it with your friends! Until next time, stay REBEL!
Amy: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I bought the book Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde, several months ago in preparation for this episode, and every time I passed it on my bookshelf, those two words would drop into my consciousness and stay there for awhile. Two words that are so laden with meaning and emotion, and are complete opposites. A sister is one of the most intimate relationships a person can have - your very own family, sharing your DNA and your home. And outsider - a stranger, an intruder, someone who is not brought into fellowship. I thought of the great human family, which really is how I was taught to see the world, with all people as siblings, and I thought of what Audre Lorde was trying to tell me with that two-word title - that some of my sisters feel like outsiders in their own family. And so before I even started the book I was deeply moved. And as I read it I felt so grateful that she shared her powerful mind and her poetry with the world, and I felt humbled to be able to read it and learn. This is a book I would recommend for all listeners to purchase and read slowly and carefully. So we’ll get into this book in a minute, but first I want to introduce you to my reading partner today, Suzette Duncan. Welcome Suzette!Suzette: (Response) Amy: Suzette and I met in Palo Alto in 2015, when my two youngest kids were attending a school where Suzette was a teacher, and she became one of the all-time favorite teachers of both of my kids. And one memorable moment was in the summer of 2016 when our family was walking along the Highline in New York City in an absolute crush of people - huge crowd - and there was Suzette!! Literally about to bump into each other! I think my kids will always remember that - like seeing “home” in a sea of strangers. We adore you and miss you and still think about you all the time. We like to start each episode with an introduction of our reading partner. So Suzette, could you tell us about where you’re from, your family, what you love, some things that make you you?Suzette: My family is from the West Indies, like Audre Lorde’s. We are from Guyana, which is on the mainland of South America. It was a British colony and so is the only English speaking country in South America. We have family in Venezuela and Brazil as well. And, because Guyana was a British colony our family includes people of native, East Indian, and African descent. My family’s origin is very important to me and has colored how I see the world. For instance, I would say two seminal events in my childhood involve the West Indies, even though I only visited Guyana once as a toddler. They are the Jonestown Massacre and the invasion of Grenada by the United States. Those events caused me so much distress and fear as a kid, and also highlighted my feeling of being different, since they were not worries shared by black or white american peers.Can I interject here? I’m so embarrassed to admit that I’m one of those white Americans who doesn’t know about the Jonestown Massacre or the invasion of Grenada. Can you tell me quickly what those events were? My twin sister and I were the first people in our family to be born in the US. My mom came to the US first, followed by my dad (they’d known each other since they were kids), and then my grandparents and their two youngest kids, my aunt Allison and Uncle Steve. I actually learned at my grandmother’s funeral that she left Guyana the day of one of my uncle’s weddings to arrive in the US to start a new life and in time for the birth of my sister and I.I grew up in NYC, in a big extended family. The last of my cousins arrived in the US in 1981 or 1982. Until I was about 9, our house was home to grandparents, aunts, uncles, god parents, cousins, etc. I loved the way I grew up. It was a big change for me when started living more apart, though I lived within walking distance of my grandparents and some cousins until I left NYC.Interesting education because in 80s private schools were opening doors to “less privileged kids.” I went to a private school on the museum mile in Manhattan, but lived in a modest house on the edge of Queens. My classmates included children of some of the wealthiest folks in America, meanwhile, crack was decimating my previously safe and happy neighborhood in the 80’s. The dissonance of that experience was something I had to figure out as an adult. Grateful for the education I got, and it wasn’t without costs.Started studying japanese in high school. Kept going with it, and lived in Japan for about 3 years. Finally I found myself in a PHD program for Japanese literature. I left without finishing, because I figured out I really loved the teaching part of my academic career so I got a teaching credential to work with K-8. I wanted to a) bring a different experience to kids like me in private schools and then 2) use what I’d learned in them to improve the experiences of kids in public schools.I had my dream job working with teachers in public schools after leaving teaching in private schools, but I’ve been dealing with a disabling illness that has put a pause on that work. I hope to get back to supporting education in some way some day.I'm so very sorry, Suzette. Actually as I've been doing the podcast, occasionally I think back on things that some authors have written that I’ve said on episodes that are kind of "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps", and I realize how insensitive that can be when people are dealing with all kinds of factors that can make life more complicated than just “go to grad school! Get a job! Be empowered!” My own mom has suffered with chronic pain for decades and I know she yearns to do more, but has been very limited by physical struggles. So I’m glad you brought it up - I need to be more aware of the huge variety of people’s abilities and circumstances.But back to you...I’m married to a woman. She is white. We have a daughter who is white and Mexican/Cuban and just turned 18. We have raised her with her dad and although we don’t look like a family we all love each other a lot.I’ve had the benefit of living a life that has put me in touch with a lot of different people from a lot of different places. I really appreciate that about my life.Amy: And then what does “breaking down patriarchy” mean to you?Suzette: right now, with the world the way it is, I find that I can't think about patriarchy without thinking about the history of European dominance and colonization over the world. Audre Lorde writes about the mythical norm (Mythical Norm) that allows for the dehumanization of so many. that norm is white and male, because of that history of European colonization. so I think decolonizing, by examining and being honest about that history, and then finding out how other humans can lead us away from that mythical Norm is really essential to breaking down the patriarchy. we can't think about breaking down patriarchy without thinking also breaking apart the hegemonic systems that support it.Amy: Last step before discussing the text is to get to know the author. Could you tell us about Audre Lorde?Suzette: Audrey Lorde was born in New York City on February 18, 1934. Her father was from Barbados, and her mother was Grenadian from the island of Carriacou. Lorde's mother was of mixed ancestry but could "pass" for Spanish, which was a source of pride for her family. Her father, on the other hand, was darker than the Belmar family liked, and they only allowed the couple to marry because of his charm, ambition, and persistence. Audre was the youngest of three daughters, who were praised for their lighter skin - Audre’s mother had picked up her family’s deep aversion to dark skin, and Audrey always felt that disdain from her mother. Additionally, Audre was nearsighted to the point of being legally blind, and in her book Sister Outsider she talks about these early memories - being shamed for her dark skin and being visually impaired - creating a deep sense that there was something wrong with her. At the age of four, she learned to talk while she learned to read, and her mother taught her to write at around the same time. If asked how she was feeling, Audre would reply by reciting a poem; she said that she even thought in poetry. Around the age of twelve, she began writing her own poetry and connecting with others at her school who were considered "outcasts", as she felt she was. And a note about the spelling of her name: When Audre was a kid she decided that she was more interested in the artistic symmetry of the "e"-endings in the two side-by-side names "Audre Lorde" than in spelling her name the way her parents had intended, so she dropped the “Y” at the end of Audrey. :) She attended Hunter College High School, a secondary school for intellectually gifted students, and graduated in 1951. While attending Hunter, Lorde published her first poem in Seventeen magazine after her school's literary journal rejected it for being inappropriate. She also participated in poetry workshops sponsored by the Harlem Writers Guild, but noted that she always felt like somewhat of an outcast from the Guild because she "was both crazy and queer... but [they thought] I would grow out of it all." In 1954 Lorde spent a year as a student at the National University of Mexico, and upon her return to New York, she attended Hunter College, and graduated in the class of 1959. She furthered her education at Columbia University, earning a master's degree in library science in 1961, and working as a public librarian in nearby Mount Vernon, New York. In 1962 Lorde married attorney Edwin Rollins, who was a white, gay man. She and Rollins had two children together, but then divorced in 1970. In 1966, Lorde became head librarian at Town School Library in New York City, where she remained until 1968. In 1968 Lorde was writer-in-residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, leading workshops with her young, black undergraduate students, many of whom were eager to discuss the civil rights issues of that time, and through her interactions with her students, she reaffirmed her desire not only to live out her "crazy and queer" identity, but also to devote attention to the formal aspects of her craft as a poet. Her book of poems, Cables to Rage, came out of her time and experiences at Tougaloo. Lorde founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, which published the anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color [which this podcast covered just a couple of weeks ago!]. She was active as a writer, teacher and public intellectual throughout the 70’s and 80’s, founding coalitions all over the world to help women recover from abuse and injustice, notably helping women in apartheid South Africa. She also did particularly groundbreaking work in Germany, inspiring Afro-German women and helping increase awareness of intersectionality across racial and ethnic lines. Her legacy in Germany was captured in an award-winning film, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984–1992.Lorde published many, many works of poetry and prose, growing more well-known in her own lifetime, and the essay she is most famous for is called The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. This essay is contained in the anthology of essays and speeches that we’re going to discuss today: Sister Outsider, which was published in 1984.Lorde was known to describe herself as black, lesbian, feminist, poet, and mother. In her novel Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, she focuses on how her many different identities shape her life and the different experiences she has because of them. She shows us that personal identity is found within the connections between seemingly different parts of one's life, based in lived experience, and that one's authority to speak comes from this lived experience. She also spoke frequently about the need for feminism to address how all forms of oppression were interrelated. During her time in Mississippi in 1968, she met Frances Clayton, a white lesbian and professor of psychology who was to be her romantic partner until 1989. Their relationship continued for the remainder of Lorde's life.From 1991 until her death, she was the New York State Poet laureate.Lorde died of breast cancer at the age of 58 on November 17, 1992, in St. Croix, where she had been living with black feminist activist Gloria I. Joseph. In an African naming ceremony before her death, she took the name Gamba Adisa, which means "Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known". ----Amy: Thanks so much, Suzette! Ok, now we are each going to share some parts that struck us the most from the book. Suzette, do you want to start?Suzette: Chapter 22 Growing up, metabolizing hatred like daily bread, because I am black, because I am woman, because I am not black enough, because I am not some particular fantasy of a woman, because I am.I used to have a joke that my default emotion was anger. It’s hard to communicate the amount of stress and anger, digesting daily hate creates.Anecdotes about my anger - talking with my sister about the state of the world - I get actually screaming angry. I understand the meaning of the phrase, depression is anger turned inward. That was my experience - the anger before deep depression in my late 20s.It takes so much energy to feed anger, and it robs you of the energy for your own liberation.One thing that this quote and your response reminds me of is a part of Isabel Wilkerson’s book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, where she says that white people love - and praise - Black forgiveness. She says that many, many white people don’t have tolerance for Black anger, and we want Black people to just say “it’s ok,” and absolve us of our collective guilt. And that of course places the burden back onto African-American shoulders. In fact Lorde says this:“Black women are expected to use our anger only in the service of other people's salvation or learning. But that time is over. 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.” (132) Does that resonate for you, Suzette?Holding it in toxic and releasing it is damaging.Anecdote - destructive anger during our recent move. Willingly endangering my health to demonstrate my anger - this story also let’s me talk about disability.Work of adulthood has been figuring this outSuzetteI was not meant to be alone and without you who understandToughest part of the book for me, reflecting on invisibility and loneliness of black womanhoodI spent a lot of time feeling angry about feeling rejected by other black folk because I didn’t conform. What she describes is not so past tense.The connection she makes between the ambivalence between black women and the impact of patriarchy, oppression, racism - so important.HAIR is big part of this - I got a lot of grief for my hairIn recent years I’ve noticed that there’s a greater acceptance of diversity of self expression and lifestyle among black folks, but it’s not a uniform community and I think not lifting up the diversity with the community of black folks harms us.AmyI was thinking about that phrase “I was not meant to be alone and without you who understands” and for me it connected to an idea that she develops about understanding each other. She says:“Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening.” (110)I love this encouragement of being who we are honestly and truly, and not hiding ourselves, and rather than fearing differences in other people, saying “bring it on!! What a wonderful opportunity to learn from our differences!” With that attitude, we can really learn from each other. It’s inspiring to think that creativity can spark between opposite opinions, different ways of being… but that does require us to have really good communication skills so we end up really listening to each other and trying to deeply understand what the other person is experiencing and trying to share with us. In fact, I want to share another part on the same topic - she says:“As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an...
Connor and Jack discuss the Audre Lorde poem "Coping." They discuss Lorde's legacy as a writer and theorist, how poems and other pieces of culture can be palatable containers for unruly emotions, and the nature imagery the poem uses. They also take time to reflect on the ways the poem gets them thinking about climate change.More about Audre Lorde, here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/audre-lordeCopingBy: Audre LordeIt has rained for five daysrunning the world isa round puddleof sunless waterwhere small islandsare only beginning to copea young boyin my garden is bailing out waterfrom his flower patchwhen I ask him whyhe tells meyoung seeds that have not seen sunforget and drown easilyFind us at our website: www.closetalking.com/Find us on Facebook at: facebook.com/closetalking Find us on Twitter at: twitter.com/closetalking Find us on Instagram: @closetalkingpoetryYou can always send us an e-mail with thoughts on this or any of our previous podcasts, as well as suggestions for future shows, at email@example.com.
In this episode, Amy shares the story of patron saint of inter-sectional feminism, Audre Lorde. Moon marked and touched by sun, HER magic is unwritten but when the sea turns back it will leave HER shape behind.When Self described "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," Audre Lorde wrote those words in the first person in her poem A Woman Speaks, she was only partly correct - some, though definitely not all, of her magic is most assuredly written.
Audre Lorde, Headmaster Nicholas Hewlett Comes Out, Biden on the Hyde Amendment
We live in a world with hot pink macaroni and cheese now. Get used to it! This week, Bryan profiles self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” Audre Lorde before diving into a recent story about a London school headmaster who came out to his students during an assembly. Then, Erin discusses the Biden administration’s positioning on the Hyde Amendment and other women’s health issues - and why we should still be saying, “hmmm.”See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Anger is a real and potent force that can be used for positive change. Yet the anger that black women and other women of color rightfully feel towards a racist sexist world that actively harms them, is often used as a means to oppress them further. Inspired by contemporary black feminists writers like Adrienne Maree Brown and Brittney Cooper, Kaliswa Brewster reads Audre Lorde's 1981 Keynote from Sister Outsider, "Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism."
43. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde and books that center intersectional feminism
Today Chelsey and Sara are discussing Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. This collection of essays, speeches, and other writings is highly discussable and totally re-readable. We loved diving into this seminal Black Feminist text, though our conversation today barely scratches the surface of all there is to learn from Lorde’s ideas, language, and poetry. Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic, including a beautiful novel in verse and one of Chelsey’s recent favorite YA reads. Follow Novel Pairings on Instagram or Twitter. Use our Libro.fm affiliate code NOVELPAIRINGS to get an audiobook subscription and support independent bookstores. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates and behind-the-scenes info. Books Mentioned: Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (Amazon) Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Amazon) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Amazon) Skip to the pairings with this timestamp: [32:42] Shop the pairings with our affiliate links below: Chelsey’s Pairings: How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Amazon) You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (Amazon) I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (Amazon) Sara’s Pairings: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Amazon) A Girl is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Amazon) Make Me Rain by Nikki Giovanni (Amazon) Picks of the week: Episode 359: The Lady Gang & Traci Thomas discuss White Fragility Part 1 Episode 116: Part 2 on The Stacks Anti-racism Daily #DisruptTexts
This is Episode 2, Season 2 of The TMI Project Podcast: Black Stories Matter featuring TMI Project storyteller and Co-director of Black Stories Matter, Dara Lurie. This episode was produced by Hayley Downs and mixed by Marlan Barry. It was co-produced by Radio Kingston. Special thanks to Ida Hakkila, Nate Brogan, Kale Kaposhilin, Jimmy Buff, and North Guild Productions. In addition to leading TMI Project’s Black Stories Matter program, Dara is an author and manuscript coach. She received a B.A. in Film & Theater from Vassar College and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hunter College. Dara grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and migrated in the early 1980s to West Berlin, Germany, where she tended bar, wrote, and performed in the theater while living in different communities of squatters, Green Party activists, journalists, teachers, and social workers. Her first book, Great Space of Desire; Writing for Personal Evolution, is a memoir and creative guide for writers wishing to tell their own stories.Useful Links: “Great Space of Desire: Writing for Personal Evolution” https://www.amazon.com/Great-Space-Desire-Personal-Evolution-ebook/dp/B006IGCJLIhttps://darajoycelurie.com/