97+ Best Audre Lorde Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Audre Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. As 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. Profoundly inspirational Audre Lorde quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.

If you’re searching for motivating activist quotes that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of profound Bell Hooks quotes, amazing Coretta Scott King quotes and top Dorothy Day quotes.

Famous Audre Lorde Quotes

African tradition deals with life as an experience to be lived. In many respects, it is much like the Eastern philosophies in that we see ourselves as a part of a life force; we are joined, for instance, to the air, to the earth. We are part of the whole-life process. We live in accordance with, in a kind of correspondence with the rest of the world as a whole. And therefore, living becomes an experience, rather than a problem, no matter how bad or how painful it may be. – Audre Lorde

And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning when our stomachs are full we are afraid of indigestion when our stomachs are empty we are afraid we may never eat again when we are loved we are afraid love will vanish when we are alone we are afraid love will never return and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive – Audre Lorde

It is not the destiny of Black America to repeat white America’s mistakes. But we will, if we mistake the trappings of success in a sick society for the signs of a meaningful life. – Audre Lorde

If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism? – Audre Lorde

We are powerful because we have survived. – Audre Lorde

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

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

Anger, used, does not destroy. Hatred does. – Audre Lorde

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

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. – Audre Lorde

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

When I hear the deepest truths, I speak coming out of my mouth sounding like my mother’s, even remembering how I fought against her, I have to reassess both our relationship as well as the sources of my knowing. – Audre Lorde

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

Pain is an event. Suffering, on the other hand, is the nightmare reliving of unscrutinized and unmetabolized pain. – Audre Lorde

I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do. – Audre Lorde

For within living structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, our feelings were expected to kneel to thought as women were expected to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets. – Audre Lorde

Unless one lives and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless. – Audre Lorde

The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt. – Audre Lorde

Divide and conquer must become define and empower. – Audre Lorde

For each of us as women, there is a dark place within, where hidden and growing our true spirit rises, beautiful and tough as chestnut stanchions against our nightmare of weakness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling – Audre Lorde

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

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

Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future. – Audre Lorde

I am Black because I come from the earth’s inside now take my word for jewel in the open light. – Audre Lorde

For we have built into all of us, old blueprints of expectation and response, old structures of oppression and these must be altered at the same time that we alter the living condition which are the result of those structures. For the master’s tool will never dismantle the master’s house. – Audre Lorde

The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot. – Audre Lorde

Once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives… – Audre Lorde

If I cannot air this pain and alter it, I will surely die of it. That’s the beginning of social protest. – Audre Lorde

How much of this truth can I bear to see and still live unblinded? How much of this pain can I use? – Audre Lorde

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

If you can’t change reality, change your perceptions of it. – Audre Lorde

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

Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness. – Audre Lorde

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

The difference between poetry and rhetoric is being ready to kill yourself instead of your children. – Audre Lorde

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence. – Audre Lorde

Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying. – Audre Lorde

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

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

Black writers, of whatever quality, who step outside the pale of what black writers are supposed to write about, or who black writers are supposed to be, are condemned to silences in black literary circles that are as total and as destructive as any imposed by racism. – Audre Lorde

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

Some women wait for themselves around the next corner and call the empty spot peace, but the opposite of living is only not living and the stars do not care. – Audre Lorde

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. – Audre Lorde

‎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

I was going to die, if not sooner, then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. – Audre Lorde

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

Silence and invisibility go hand in hand with powerlessness. – Audre Lorde

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

The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower. – Audre Lorde

From my membership in all of these groups I have learned that oppression and the intolerance of difference come in all shapes and sizes and colors and sexualities; and that among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression. – Audre Lorde

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing. – Audre Lorde

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

to that piece in each of us that refuses to be silent. – Audre Lorde

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. – Audre Lorde

My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences. – Audre Lorde

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. And in order to survive they must let go. This is what mothers teach — love, survival — that is, self-definition and letting go. – Audre Lorde

Without community, there is no liberation, but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist. – Audre Lorde

For 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. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices. – Audre Lorde

One pays a lot, we all pay a lot, for awareness. – Audre Lorde

We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. – Audre Lorde

Our visions begin with our desires. – Audre Lorde

I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk throught the rain. – Audre Lorde

Art is not living. It is the use of living. – Audre Lorde

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

The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations that we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us. – Audre Lorde

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

We are all in the process of becoming. – Audre Lorde

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

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

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

Who I am is what fulfills me and fulfills the vision I have of the world. – Audre Lorde

I have no creative use for guilt, yours or my own. Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action, of buying time out of the pressing need to make clear choices, out of the approaching storm that can feed the earth as well as bend the trees. – Audre Lorde

If you don’t define yourself for yourself then you will be crushed into other’s fantasies of you and eaten alive – Audre Lorde

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. – Audre Lorde

What do we want from each other after we have told our stories. – Audre Lorde

I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t. – Audre Lorde

Even the smallest victory is never to be taken for granted. Each victory must be applauded. – Audre Lorde

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. – Audre Lorde

What I leave behind has a life of its own. – Audre Lorde

Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a wall against which we all flounder; they serve none of our futures. – Audre Lorde

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

Out of my flesh that hungers and my mouth that knows comes the shape I am seeking for reason. – Audre Lorde

Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. 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

It is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are-until the poem-nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt. – Audre Lorde

Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside. – Audre Lorde

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

We must wake up knowing we have work to do and go to bed knowing we’ve done it. – Audre Lorde

The speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking. – Audre Lorde

I am a reflection of my mother’s secret poetry as well as of her hidden angers – Audre Lorde

The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The black goddess within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free. – Audre Lorde

My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restriction of externally imposed definition. – Audre Lorde

Anger is loaded with information and energy. – Audre Lorde

It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those other identified as outside the structures, in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make the strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. – Audre Lorde

When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I’m not excluding you from the joining – I’m broadening the joining. – Audre Lorde

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

There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives. – Audre Lorde

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

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