Black History Month 20 for 20: Audre Lorde - Literary Liberation
Monday January 30th I was shooting the shit on Twitter as usual, and turned my attention to the love I have for Master P. My friend Courtney with a K inspired me to start this series (as you can see below). For every weekday in February, I will profile Black persons in celebration of Black History Month. #BHM20for20 Why only 20? Y’all too busy sinning on the weekend to read (I’m joking but not really). Thank you Kourtnee.
“I started writing because I had a need inside of me to create something that was not there.” – Audre Lorde
For me personally, there might not be a more relatable quote in the history of quotes. However, this isn’t about me; this is about Audre Lorde, who never made everything about her but more about a relatable plight for all to feel like they belong. A Civil Rights activist, feminist, lesbian, and poetic writer; basically, anything Audre Lorde wanted to be Audre Lorde was.
Audre’s ability to express herself clearly, and concisely thru her writing while evoking thought, and evoking emotion are what made her 2nd to none. She was hell-bent on not being pigeonholed into any of the stigmas, or stereotypes society placed on Black women, and especially Black lesbians. Audre Lorde often felt excluded by her own people because of her sexual preference, which is perplexing because how is she fighting for civil rights but also fighting to be seen as an equal by the same people she is fight for? She believed that there was a sector of Black people who did not wish to acknowledge Black women, and especially Black lesbians, and if we look around in 2017, are all these issues still not on the table?
Writers have a way of being empathic, and universal because we all happen to be in-sync with the universe. For example, before compiling the list of persons I wanted to profile in this series I happened to be watching The Best Man that Monday afternoon, there is a scene in which Murch (Harold Perrineau) is talking to Candy (Regina Hall) & quotes Audre Lorde; that was the universe or Audre telling me that she was someone I needed to profile, and show appreciation to.
Unfortunately, much like today’s Black feminist movement, Audre was largely dismissed by both her white counterparts, and Blacks alike as just another “angry Black woman” instead of progressive, and strong, which she was. An author of 17 books (1 posthumously), Audre Lorde spoke to Black feminism being a much different experience than that of mainstream feminism, which largely excluded Black women (see: 2016 Election/2017 Woman’s March, is this not still happening?). Bridging the gap between cultures was supremely important to her as well; she is quoted as saying, “When we create out of our experiences, as feminists of color, women of color, we have to develop those structures that will present, and circulate our culture.” Audre was beyond transparent thru her writing, especially in Uses of the Erotic: Erotic as Power, which she writes, “The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” Audre was diagnosed with 2 types cancer on 2 separate occasions; first she dealt with breast cancer, and later with liver cancer. She did not let this slow her down, in fact it seemed to give Audre more purposefulness in her life, as she documented her battles with cancer in The Cancer Journals which she wrote about her struggles, and how receiving love from other women encouraged her to keep fighting this horrid disease.
Bold, vigilant, well-rounded, proud, and never one to bite her tongue, Audre Lorde encompasses everything a Black woman is because she was more than capable in comparison to who, and what the world saw her as. As an pioneering advocate for the LGBTQ (Audre referred to herself as a Black lesbian feminist) Audre’s influence is still very much felt today with the creation of The Audre Lorde Project, an organization which focuses on persons of color in the queer & transgender communities. Thank you Audre Lorde because thru you I am learning more about the LGBTQ community, and the issues they face daily; also I am learning to be a better, and more vocal write, and shit, person (yes, more than I already am). Your legacy and fight will continue thru all persons of color, and we appreciate you opening doors for us; it’s now time for us to kick them down.
Next up, I highlight a young businessman that I admire.