Feminist of the week:Audre Lourde

This article was written by Anna Malzy

In response to ‘please name your favorite feminist’ responses ranged from the obvious – Germaine Greer and Caitlin Moran; to the sweet – you, my wife; to the slightly left of field – Charlton Heston (‘because he wasn’t afraid of body hair’).

The person I will be celebrating this week is Audre Lourde. Poet, writer and activist, she described herself as ‘a black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet.’ What’s not to love?

Audre was born in New York in the 1930s and started writing poems while she was still at school, like all the best dreamers. Her first poems were rejected by her school newspaper for being “too romantic,” but she went on to publish several collections and her book ‘From a Land Where Other People Live’ was nominated for the National Book Award in 1974.

Her poems cover themes of liberation, racism, sexism, and anger to name but a few. Audre makes me want to reclaim the notion of being an ‘angry feminist’ with pride because, as she says, “anger expressed and translated into action…is a liberating and strengthening act.” She reminds us that as long as one person is still shackled by forces of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or any other means of oppression, no one is completely free.

She was, and still is, accessible, beautiful, political and passionate. She had no fear of calling up oppression when she saw it, and posed vital challenges to the assumptions of racism within western feminism. She reminds us that feminism is complex and layered, because people are complex and layered, but “without community, there is no liberation.”

“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.”

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