Inspiration and wisdom from divine felines

148 Inspiring Quotes by Audre Lorde

  • Last updated Jul 26 2021

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Audre Lorde.

Wikipedia Summary for Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde (born Audrey Geraldine Lorde; February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" who dedicated her life and her work to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, capitalism, heterosexism, and homophobia.\n\nAs a poet, she is best known for technical mastery and emotional expression, as well as her poems that express anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life. Her poems and prose largely deal with issues related to civil rights, feminism, lesbianism, illness and disability, and the exploration of black female identity.

high-angle photography of beach side

Perhaps...I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am a lesbian, because I am myself -- a Black woman warrior poet doing my work -- come to ask you, are you doing yours?

--Audre Lorde

white and black boat on sea during daytime

Anger, used, does not destroy. Hatred does.

--Audre Lorde

None

You cannot use someone else's fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.

--Audre Lorde


girl pulling the collar of dog during daytime

Dark-bright fire lit eyes.

--Audre Lorde

yellow labrador retriever puppy sitting on floor

Divide and conquer must become define and empower.

--Audre Lorde





yellow and black striped background

The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling..

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines the human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need -- the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It's not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.


purple textile in close up photography

Pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.

--Audre Lorde

white stars in the sky during night time

When I use my strength in the service of my vision it makes no difference whether or not I am afraid.

--Audre Lorde

photography of white wall lot

Every Black woman in America lives her life somewhere along a wide curve of ancient and unexpressed angers.

--Audre Lorde

rock formation surrounding by body of water

I started writing because I had a need inside of me to create something that was not there.

--Audre Lorde


blue wall

Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.

--Audre Lorde


green and white bird on black wire during daytime

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
s being
ready to kill
yourself
instead of your children.

--Audre Lorde




aerial photo of brown moutains

There are no new pains.

--Audre Lorde

view of mountaintops with clouds

There are lesbians, God knows... if you came up through lesbian circles in the forties and fifties in New York... who were not feminist and would not call themselves feminists.

--Audre Lorde


galaxy wallpaper

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.

--Audre Lorde


shoreline during golden hour

But the true feminist deals out of a lesbian consciousness whether or not she ever sleeps with women.

--Audre Lorde


bonfire near mountain

I am not only a casualty, I am also a warrior.

--Audre Lorde

blue and white abstract painting

If you don't define yourself for yourself then you will be crushed into other's fantasies of you and eaten alive.

--Audre Lorde

body of water

I forgot what we were celebrating. Because we were always celebrating something, a new job, a new poem, a new love, a new dream.

--Audre Lorde

green leafed tree on body of water under starry sky

I agreed to take part in a New York University Institute for Humanities conference a year ago..

--Audre Lorde


sunset with storm clouds

The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation.

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have often turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with its opposite, the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire.



landscape photography of mountain

We are all more blind to what we have than to what we have not.

--Audre Lorde

black pug puppy on white and pink textile

Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.

--Audre Lorde

green ceramic mug beside book

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.

--Audre Lorde

white and blue building under clear sky

The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our own oppression as women.

--Audre Lorde


white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever -- only, nothing is eternal.

--Audre Lorde

forest trees

The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.



red textile on brown wooden table

In discussions around the hiring and firing of Black faculty at universities, the charge is frequently heard that Black women are more easily hired than are Black men.

--Audre Lorde

silhouette of three men falling in line while walking during golden hour

Women are powerful and dangerous.

--Audre Lorde

green grass field with smoke

I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I'll be sending messages on a Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.

--Audre Lorde


None

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

--Audre Lorde



green plants near body of water during daytime

Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge. They are chaotic, sometimes painful, sometimes contradictory, but they come from deep within us. And we must key into those feelings... This is how new visions begin.


brown houses in front of hill under starry night

So it is better to speak, remembering we were never meant to survive.

--Audre Lorde

aerial view of green lake surrounded by green trees during daytime

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.

--Audre Lorde

green trees on brown dried leaves during daytime

The transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation .

--Audre Lorde

green plant

But, on the other hand, I get bored with racism too and recognize that there are still many things to be said about a Black person and a White person loving each other in a racist society.

--Audre Lorde

sunset

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.

--Audre Lorde


silhouette of man and woman during sunset

We must constantly encourage ourselves and each other to attempt the heretical actions that our dreams imply and so many of our old ideas disparage.

--Audre Lorde


brown and gray stick

You are the one that you are looking for.

--Audre Lorde

None

If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough.

--Audre Lorde



black textile in close up photography

My experience with people who tried to label me was that they usually did it to either dismiss me or use me.

--Audre Lorde

rock formation in body of water

For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it.

--Audre Lorde



white clouds and blue sky

In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.

--Audre Lorde

time lapse photography of lightning during storm

Black women sharing close ties with each other, politically or emotionally, are not the enemies of Black men.

--Audre Lorde

yellow sunflower in bloom during daytime

Afraid is a country with no exit visas.

--Audre Lorde

white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

In other words, I would be giving in to a myth of sameness which I think can destroy us.

--Audre Lorde

None

Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.

--Audre Lorde

purple and green light digital wallpaper

And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

--Audre Lorde


man wearing black jacket standing on street

Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action.

--Audre Lorde

photo of pine trees

Battling racism and battling heterosexism and battling apartheid share the same urgency inside me as battling cancer.

--Audre Lorde

body of water under blue sky during sunset

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.

--Audre Lorde


sunset

Tomorrow belongs to those of us who conceive of it as belonging to everyone; who lend the best of ourselves to it, and with joy.

--Audre Lorde

mountains covered with fog

I am my best work -- a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.

--Audre Lorde

woman in black tank top

‎Once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, can feel joy, then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy.

--Audre Lorde


brown wooden board

Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. I am who I am, doing what I came to do, acting upon you like a drug or a chisel to remind you of your me-ness, as I discover you in myself.

--Audre Lorde

white stars in the sky during night time

Attend me, hold me in your muscular flowering arms, protect me from throwing any part of myself away.

--Audre Lorde

None

Black women have on one hand always been highly visible, and so, on the other hand, have been rendered invisible through the depersonalization of racism.

--Audre Lorde


None

The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of third world women leaves a serious gap within this conference.

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of third world women leaves a serious gap within this conference..


seashore during daytime

Love is a word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes
into a knot of flame
I am Black
because I come from the earth's inside
take my word for jewel
in the open light.

--Audre Lorde

yellow flower field under clear sky

I am a Black Lesbian Feminist Warrior Poet Mother, stronger for all my identities, and I am indivisible.

--Audre Lorde

blue and white striped textile

Self-care is not about self-indulgence , it is about self-preservati on.

--Audre Lorde


brown textile in close up image

Did you ever read my words, or did you merely finger through them for quotations which you thought might valuably support an already conceived idea concerning some old and distorted connection between us?

--Audre Lorde

white and yellow flowers during daytime

Wherever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs.

--Audre Lorde

brown sands

What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heel print upon another woman's face?

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heelprint upon another woman's face? What woman's terms of oppression have become precious and necessary to her as a ticket into the fold of the righteous, away from the cold winds of self-scrutiny?


None

There are many lesbians and gay men trapped by their fear into silence and invisibility, and they exist in a dim valley of terror wearing nooses of conformity.

--Audre Lorde

blue boat on sand near body of water during daytime

I am still learning -- how to take joy in all the people I am, how to use all my selves in the service of what I believe, how to accept when I fail and rejoice when I succeed.

--Audre Lorde

purple flower on purple textile

Part of the lesbian consciousness is an absolute recognition of the erotic within our lives and, taking that a step further, dealing with the erotic not only in sexual terms.

--Audre Lorde

person holding white book

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.

--Audre Lorde









yellow flower in green grass field

To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our society.

--Audre Lorde

brown and white abstract painting

I would like to do another piece of fiction dealing with a number of issues: Lesbian parenting, the 1960's, and interracial relationships in the Lesbian and Gay community.

--Audre Lorde

yellow and white abstract painting

When I dare to be powerful -- to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

--Audre Lorde

None

There is a timbre of voice that comes from not being heard and knowing you are not being heard noticed only by others not heard for the same reason.

--Audre Lorde


None

Black women are programmed to define ourselves within this male attention and to compete with each other for it rather than to recognize and move upon our common interests.

--Audre Lorde

aerial photography of forest

People in markets find a way of getting down to the essentials of I have, you want; you have, I want.

--Audre Lorde

brown and gray brick wall

I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable.

--Audre Lorde


body of water under blue sky during daytime

For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

--Audre Lorde

fire near trees

Art is not living. It is the use of living.

--Audre Lorde


Bryce Canyon National Park Sunrise Point at Utah

Any world which did not have a place for me loving women was not a world in which I wanted to live, nor one which I could fight for.

--Audre Lorde

galaxy

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

green trees near lake under cloudy sky during daytime

Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people.

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human difference between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.


white wooden dock on white sand

Learning not to crumple before these uncertainties fuels my resolve to print myself upon the texture of each day fully rather than forever.

--Audre Lorde

long exposure photography of beach

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

--Audre Lorde


sunset grasslands

The sixties were characterized by a heady belief in instantaneous solutions.

--Audre Lorde

purple and white clouds during night time

We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.

--Audre Lorde

None

Raising Black children-female and male-in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy. If they cannot love and resist at the same time, they will probably not survive.

--Audre Lorde

bird's eye view photography of trees and body of water

Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.

--Audre Lorde

blue and white abstract painting

Those of us forged in the crucibles of difference know that survival is not an academic skill.

--Audre Lorde



Dark purple to red to orange gradient

I have suckled the wolf's lip of anger and I have used it for illumination, laughter, protection, fire in places where there was no light, no food, no sisters, no quarter.

--Audre Lorde





desert grassland

Every woman I have ever known has made a lasting impression on my soul.

--Audre Lorde

raging waves through shores

The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself.

--Audre Lorde

silhouette of person on top of mountain pointing flashlight on sky filled with stars at night time

Anger is loaded with information and energy.

--Audre Lorde


photography of white wall lot

And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.

--Audre Lorde

grayscale photography of raindrops

We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way.

--Audre Lorde


green leafed plant

Il tuo silenzio non ti proteggerà.

--Audre Lorde

man riding on boat on body of water

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.

--Audre Lorde

Longer Version:

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.


silhouette of person wearing cowboy hat during sunset

Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak.

--Audre Lorde

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