Collage of Audre Lorde. Source: Afropunk.com
Audre Lorde was an American poet, writer, feminist, womanist, and civil rights activist who has paved the way for a lot of influential artists today. Her poetry fueled by injustice – her prose’ deeply personal. In the 1960’s Lorde’s work was regularly published in the US which drew in many of her dedicated followers. Like an intricate oil painting, Lorde had many layers. To quote Critic Carmen Birkle, “Her multicultural self is thus reflected in a multicultural text, in multi-genres, in which the individual cultures are no longer separate and autonomous entities but melt into a larger whole without losing their individual importance.”
Lorde was uncategorisable, she wanted to be seen and judged by her character, not stereotyped or pigeonholed. She described herself as a “lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” and would rely on her work to get this message across. “Her experiences with teaching and pedagogy—as well as her place as a Black, queer woman in white academia—went on to inform her life and work.” In her book entitled The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House, Lorde talks about intersectionality in race, class and gender, as it has been documented that it was a duty of her’s to speak the truth. “I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain.”
Lorde was an open book and shared her personal struggles with the world. She broke down barriers and encouraged communication through her platforms such as Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press and Support of Sisters in South Africa. By allowing herself to be vulnerable, she encouraged others to grow and form communities and groups which offered support, stability and encouragement.
Women responding to racism means women responding to anger; Anger of exclusion, of unquestioned privilege, of racial distortions, of silence, ill-use, stereotyping, defensiveness, misnaming, betrayal, and co-optation.
Resources to share in your teams & discuss further:
Racial justice activist on why she fights for representation in politics Mashable
What can we learn from feminist writer Audre Lorde? The Gallyry
A Timely Collection of Vital Writing by Audre Lorde The New York Times
Angela Davis on Audre Lorde
Contemporary Woman Poets with Audre Lorde & Marge Piercy
Audre Lorde – The complete last reading in Berlin
Why Imposter Syndrome Is Worse for Women of Color, BFR
Black bodies: Taboos and sexual freedom, The Womanist Podcast
Landmark: Audre Lorde, Free Thinking
Suggested actions to take:
- In your next team meeting or all-hands: Ask your team what the term feminist means and if they would identify as one. Many people struggle with the term or don’t truly understand what is mean so allow conversations to flow naturally. Remember there is no such thing as a silly question.
- Re-framing work events through the lens of bias: Try and view the world through different lenses as this will give you an advantage in terms of understanding your workforce and team around you. You may find that you start to notice that certain decisions made are more beneficial to one culture or gender.
- In 1:1s: Allow yourself to try new things and fail. The only way to really learn and grow is through failure and vulnerability. Being in your comfort zone is fun, but you will never grow if you’re comfortable.