“Sister Outsider,” by Audre Lorde

18/02/2021 |

By Capire

Audre Lorde was an African-American poet, author, professor, and lesbian activist. If she were alive, she would be turning 87 today, February 18th, 2021!

Foto/Photo: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

The poem “Sister Outsider” is part of the book The Black Unicorn, by Audre Lorde, published in 1978 in the United States. Her verses discuss the experience and struggle of black women for life, through elements that symbolize their relationship with the world, beliefs, nature, and other women. This relationship expands as women break the silence and fear and turn loneliness into strength and learning.

“Sister Outsider” is also the name of her powerful book of essays published in 1984. The fact that they share the same name is an example of how her poems are drenched with the political propositions and concerns she articulated in her essays, and vice-versa. In the book, Lorde proposes a feminist, anti-racist view on poetry writing, pedagogy, sexuality, and strategies of resistence of Black women. According to Lorde, “the farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”.

Sister outsider

We were born in a poor time
never touching
each other’s hunger
sharing our crusts
in fear
the bread became enemy.

Now we raise our children
to respect themselves
as well as each other.

Now you have made loneliness
holy and useful
and no longer needed
your light shines very brightly
but I want you
to know
your darkness also
and beyond fear.

¹  Audre Lorde uses the term outsider to express the condition of Black women, “whose experiences and traditions are too ‘alien’ to understand.”

²  This quote is from the essay “Poetry is not a luxury,” published in Sister Outsider.

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