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Sister Outsider
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Sister Outsider
Essays and Speeches
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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...
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...
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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,...

Excerpts-

  • From the book 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...

About the Author-

  • 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.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from September 15, 2007
    Poet and librarian Lorde collected 15 of her finest essays and speeches in this 1984 volume. With her poet's command of language, she addresses sexism, racism, black women, black lesbians, eroticism, and more. Still powerful.

    Copyright 2007 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publishers Weekly "An eye-opener"

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    Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed
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