06 5 / 2012

(Source: eaytaz)

06 5 / 2012

In her own words, Audre Lorde was a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Lorde began writing poetry at age 12 and published her first poem in Seventeen magazine at age 15. She helped found Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the world’s first publisher run by women of color, in 1980. Her poetry was published regularly throughout her life and she served as the State Poet of New York from 1991 to 1992. Lorde explored issues of class, race, age, sex, and – after a series of cancer diagnoses — health, as being fundamental to the female experience. She died of liver cancer in 1992.

In her own words, Audre Lorde was a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Lorde began writing poetry at age 12 and published her first poem in Seventeen magazine at age 15. She helped found Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the world’s first publisher run by women of color, in 1980. Her poetry was published regularly throughout her life and she served as the State Poet of New York from 1991 to 1992. Lorde explored issues of class, race, age, sex, and – after a series of cancer diagnoses — health, as being fundamental to the female experience. She died of liver cancer in 1992.

06 5 / 2012

by Cheryl Clarke, Living as a Lesbian

We are everywhere and white people still do not see us. 
They force us from sidewalks. 
Mistake us for men.
Expect us to give up our seats to them on the bus. 
Challenge us with their faces. 
Are afraid of us in groups. 
Thus the brutal one on one. 
Like a t.v. news script, every transition frustrates
rage. Hand in hand with me
you admonish
not to let them come between us
not to let them come between us on the street. 
We are struck by war crazy men
recording their gunfire on stereo cassette decks.

05 5 / 2012

Barbara Smith (born December 16, 1946) in Cleveland is an American, lesbian feminist who has played a significant role in building and sustaining Black Feminism in the United States. Since the early 1970s she has been active as an innovative critic, teacher, lecturer, author, independent scholar, and publisher of Black feminist thought. She has also taught at numerous colleges and universities over the last twenty five years. Smith’s essays, reviews, articles, short stories and literary criticism have appeared in a range of publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Black Scholar, Ms., Gay Community News, The Guardian, The Village Voice, Conditions (magazine) and The Nation. In 1975 she reorganized the Boston chapter of the National Black Feminist Organization to establish the Combahee River Collective. Barbara has a twin sister, Beverly Smith, who is also a lesbian feminist activist and writer.

Barbara Smith (born December 16, 1946) in Cleveland is an American, lesbian feminist who has played a significant role in building and sustaining Black Feminism in the United States. Since the early 1970s she has been active as an innovative critic, teacher, lecturer, author, independent scholar, and publisher of Black feminist thought. She has also taught at numerous colleges and universities over the last twenty five years. Smith’s essays, reviews, articles, short stories and literary criticism have appeared in a range of publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Black Scholar, Ms., Gay Community News, The Guardian, The Village Voice, Conditions (magazine) and The Nation. In 1975 she reorganized the Boston chapter of the National Black Feminist Organization to establish the Combahee River Collective. Barbara has a twin sister, Beverly Smith, who is also a lesbian feminist activist and writer.

05 5 / 2012

"For to survive in the mouth of this dragon that we call america, we have had to learn this first and most vital lesson - that we were never meant to survive. Not as human beings. And neither were most of you here today, Black or not. And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength. Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid."

Audre Lorde, “The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action” (via mylifeasafeminista)

05 5 / 2012

"Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women — in the face of tremendous resistance — as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought."

Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” (via mylifeasafeminista)

05 5 / 2012

"Traditionally, in american society, it is the members of oppressed, objectified groups who are expected to stretch out and bridge the gap between the actualities of our lives and the consciousness of our oppressor. For in order to survive, those of us for whom oppression is as american as apple pie have always had to be watchers, to become familiar with the language and manners of the oppressor, even sometimes adopting them for some illusion of protection. Whenever the need for some pretense of communication arises, those who profit from our oppression call upon us to share our knowledge with them. In other words, it is the responsibility of the oppressed to teach the oppressors their mistakes. I am responsible for educating teachers who dismiss my children’s culture in school. Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future."

05 5 / 2012

"Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference — those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older — know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support."

05 5 / 2012

"For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world…Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the I to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive be and the active being."

05 5 / 2012

"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 (via daughterofzami)

05 5 / 2012

"Whenever a conscious Black woman raises her voice on issues central to her existence, somebody is going to call her strident, because they don’t want to hear about it, nor us. I refuse to be silenced and I refuse to be trivialized, even if I do not say what I have to say perfectly."

Audre Lorde (via daughterofzami)

05 5 / 2012

"The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us, and which knows only the oppressors’ tactics, the oppressors’ relationships."

Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”

05 5 / 2012

"… to all my sisters who perceive separatism as a white ideology, I reject that notion. We have been defined by those who have power over us. We have not been able to define for ourselves or to develop our own ideology. Separatism and blackness are not necessarily contradictory. To bring them together requires acknowledgement of and commitment to addressing concerns for all wimmin and holding onto our particular vision. It is hard for me to integrate the two, yet I believe the reason for the difficulty is not inherent in the theory or analysis but is due to the unhelpful baggage we bring to each other. While boys may not be in our homes, they still reside in our minds. To rid ourselves of them and their agenda requires constant attention. If we are not always aware, we endanger ourselves and our movement for we will continue to fight their battles for them."

04 5 / 2012

Gwenn Craig, San Francisco, August 14 1980. 

Gwenn Craig, San Francisco, August 14 1980. 

04 5 / 2012

The Black Lesbian Caucus 1972 NY Gay Pride 
(Source: Flickr / mmilleryoung)

The Black Lesbian Caucus 1972 NY Gay Pride 

(Source: Flickr / mmilleryoung)