more from Lorde

From”Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger”:

“I don’t like to talk about hate. I don’t like to remember the cancellation and hatred, heavy as my wished-for death, seen in the eyes of so many white people from the time I could see. It was echoed in newspapers and movies and holy pictures and comic books and Amos ‘n Andy radio programs. I had no tools to dissect it, no language to name it” (147).

“sometimes it seems that anger alone keeps me alive; it burns with a bright and undiminished flame. Yet anger, like guilt, is an incomplete form of human knowledge. More useful than hatred, but still limite. Anger is used to help clarify our differences, but in the long run, strength that is bred by anger laone is a blind force which cannot create the future. It can only demolish the past. Such strength does not focus upon what created it — hatred. And hatred is a deathwish for the hated, not a lifewish for anything else” (152).

I really like how Lorde views emotions as knowledge. I once had a philosophy professor tell me that if I couldn’t articulate something with words, I didn’t truly know it. I immediately resented this. Can’t I know something with my body? Where are the words for pain? Does a child who is hated for being Black know the words for that hate? Isn’t our vocabular too regimented by hegemonic forces to truly allow us to represent what we know with our hearts and bodies?

Lorde finishes her essay powerfully:

Until now, there has been little that taught us how to be kind to each other. To the rest of the world, yes, but not to ourselves. There have been few external examples of how to treat another Black woman with kindness, deference, tenderness or an appreciative smile in passing, just because she IS; an understanding of each other’s shortcomings because we have beeen somewhere close to that, ourselves. When last did you compliment another sister, give recognition to her specialness? We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from us, the love of Black women for each other. But we can practice being gentle with ourselves by geing gentle with each other. We can practice being gentle with each other by being gentle with that peice of ourselves that is hardest to hold, by giving more to the brave bruised girlchild within each of us, by expecting a little less from her gargantuan efforts to excel. We can love her in the light as well as in the darkness, quiet her frenzy toward perfection and encourage her attentions toward fulfillment. Maybe then we will come to appreciate more how much she has taught us, and hwo much she is doing to keep this world revolving toward some livable future.

It would be ridiculous to believe that this process is not lenghty and difficult. It is suicidal to believe it is not possible. As we arm ourselves with ourselves and each other, we can stand toe to toe inside that rigorous loving and begin to speak the impossible — or what has always seemed like the impossible — to one another. The first step toward genuine change. Eventually, if we speak the truth to each other, it will become unavoidable to ourselves. (175)

Lorde, Audre. “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1984. 145-175.

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