Sister Outsider Essays And Speeches Pdf Editor

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schema:description "Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, SISTER OUTSIDER celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde's philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published. These landmark writings are, in Lorde's own words, a call to "never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is.""@en ;
schema:description "Notes from a trip to Russia -- Poetry is not a luxury -- The transformation of silence into language and action -- Scratching the surface : some notes on barriers to women and loving -- Uses of the erotic : the erotic as power -- Sexism : an American disease in blackface -- An open letter to Mary Daly -- Man child : a black lesbian feminist's response -- An interview : Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich -- The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house -- Age, race, class, and sex : women redefining difference -- The uses of anger : women responding to racism -- Learning from the 60s -- Eye to eye : black women, hatred, and anger -- Grenada revisited : an interim report."@en ;
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Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches is a collection of essays and speeches by Audre Lorde, poet and feminist writer. The book is considered a classic volume of Lorde's most influential works of non-fiction prose and has been groundbreaking and formative in the development of contemporary feminist theories.[1][2] In fifteen essays and speeches dating from 1976 to 1984,[3] Lorde explores the complexities of intersectional identity, drawing from her personal experiences with oppression, including sexism, heterosexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and ageism.[3][4] The book examines a broad range of topics, including love, war, imperialism, police brutality, coalition building, violence against women, Black feminism, and movements towards equality. Lorde's distrust for and internalization of the widespread system of dominant values within the United States is apparent throughout the collection.[5] The work is considered controversial as Lorde expresses unapologetic anger at the injustices of society.[5] The essays in this collection are extensively taught and have become a popular subject of academic analysis.[2] Lorde's theorizing of oppressions as complex and interlocking within the collection are considered a significant contribution to critical social theory.[2]


The oxymoron within the title "Sister Outsider" expresses Lorde's assertion that her identity as a Black, woman, lesbian, mother of a daughter and a son, poet, and partner in a racially mixed relationship provides her a unique vision as both a sister and an outsider, which can be used as a catalyst for change.[4] The title demonstrates Lorde's embrace of claiming a difficult identity.[6] Lorde emphasizes the use of poetry as a legitimate form of knowledge that can be used as a powerful tool to diagnose power relations within a racist, patriarchal society.

Throughout the fifteen essays and speeches of Sister Outsider, Lorde challenges sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class.[7] She asserts difference as a dynamic force and means of empowerment[4] that should be recognized and used for creative change.[3][8] Within Sister Outsider, Lorde suggests that her analysis of the concept of difference be applied to the next stage of feminism, in response to the lack of acknowledgement of differences between women that has occurred within the mainstream feminist movement.[4] Lorde also explores the fear and hatred that can arise among African American men and women, lesbians, feminists, and white women as well as the isolation that African American women experiences and consequential distrust and lack of friendship that can follow.[9]


Lorde signed a contract with The Crossing Press on November 19, 1982 with a projected publication date of May 31, 1984.[10] She was the first major lesbian author the press was to sign, despite the firm's policy of not taking books represented by agents.[10] Lorde expressed to her agent that she felt rushed into signing the contract that provided an advance against royalties of a mere $100. Ironically, the book was ultimately a huge financial success for the firm.[10] It was republished in 2007 by The Crossing Press.[11]


The book is composed of essays and talks by Lorde,[3][4] including the following:

  • Notes from a Trip to Russia
    • Edited journal entries from Lorde's two-week trip to Russia in 1976 as invited American observer to the African-Asian Writers conference sponsored by the Union of Soviet Writers.
  • Poetry is Not a Luxury
    • First published first in Chrysalis: A Magazine of Female Culture, no. 3 in 1977.
    • Asserts that poetry is a valuable tool for social and personal interrogation and transformation, and it acts as a bridge from unnamed feelings to words to action.[12]
  • The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action
    • Delivered at the Modern Language Association's "Lesbian Literature Panel" in Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977. Published in Sinister Wisdom in 1978 and The Cancer Journals (Spinsters, Ink, San Francisco) in 1980.
    • Examines the factors that contribute to the silence of some and the actions of others, commenting on voice, power, violence, sexism, verbal abuse, shame, and hostile social environments.[13]
    • Draws from Lorde's marginalized positionalities and experiences with breast cancer.[13]
  • Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women and Loving
    • First published in The Black Scholar, vol. 9, no. 7 in 1978
    • Discusses distrust and hostility within relationships between black women and black men and women.[14]
  • Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power
    • Lorde uses this essay to posit the erotic as an emotionally charged mode of perception to inform new ways of understanding experience.[15]
    • Delivered at the Fourth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women at Mount Holyoke College on August 25, 1978. Published first as a pamphlet by Out & Out Books and later by Kore Press.
  • Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface
    • First published as "The Great American Disease" in the May–June issue of The Black Scholar, vol. 10, no. 9 in 1979 in response to "The Myth of Black Macho: A Response to Angry Black Feminists" by Robert Staples in March–April 1979 issue of The Black Scholar, vol. 10, no. 8.
    • Articulates the threat patriarchalhegemonic masculinity poses to Black men and women and respect and solidarity within the Black community.[16]
  • An Open Letter to Mary Daly
    • A letter in response to Daly's Gyn/Ecology, challenging her exclusion of women of color and white feminism in general.[17]
  • Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist's Response
    • First published in Conditions: Four in 1979
    • Discusses the challenges of raising a son as a lesbian mother in an interracial relationship in the United States.[18]
  • An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich
    • First published in Signs, vol. 6, no. 4 in summer of 1981. Edited from three hours of audio tapes recorded on August 30, 1979 in Montague, Massachusetts. Commissioned by Marilyn Hacker, guest editor of Woman Poet: The East.
  • The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House
    • From comments at "The Personal and the Political Panel" at the Second Sex Conference on September 29, 1979 in New York.
    • Comments on how practices of exclusion, absence, invisibility, silence, and tokenism within feminist theory discredit feminism and calls for a transformation of the use of power and difference between women.[19]
  • Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference
    • Paper delivered at the Copeland Colloquium at Amherst College in April 1980.
    • Reject difference as a source of domination and reclaims differences between individuals and communities as resources for creative social change.[20]
  • The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism
    • Keynote presentation at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in Storrs, Connecticut in June 1981.
    • Addresses the experiences of women of color within sexist, homophobic societies in relation to the systems that try to deny and blame oppressed communities for their anger.[21]
  • Learning from the 60s
    • Talk delivered at Harvard University in February 1982 for Malcolm X Weekend.
    • Challenges readers to analyze how their practices reflect their ideologies and stresses the importance of working towards mutual liberation from multiple systems of oppression.[22]
  • Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger
    • An abbreviated version was published in essence, vol. 14, no.6 in October 1983.
    • Describes Lorde's early experiences with negative white reactions to her Blackness and conveys the harmful impacts of internalized racism and sexism on self-esteem and relationships between Black women.[23]
  • Grenada Revisted: An Interim Report
    • Written while book typeset, final hour inclusion[10][11]
    • Recounts the condition of Grenada from her visit there after its invasion by the United States. Serves as a critique of United States imperialistneocolonial foreign policy.[10]


Sister Outsider is a groundbreaking essential contribution to Black feminism, Postcolonial feminism, gay and lesbian studies, critical psychology,[24] black queer studies, African American studies, and feminist thought at large.[1][2][25] The canonical work has been cited by renowned scholars like Patricia Hill Collins,[1]Donna Haraway,[26] and Sara Ahmed.[2][27] The publication was met with overall "resounding praise".[28] A reviewer for Publisher's Weekly referred to the work as "an eye-opener."[28] American author, Barbara Christian, called the collection, "another indication of the depth of analysis that black women writers are contributing to feminist thought."[29] From this work, Lorde is said to have created a new critical social theory that understands oppressions as overlapping and interlocking, informed from her position as an outsider. She presented her arguments in an accessible manner that provides readers with the language to articulate difference and the complex nature of oppressions.[24] American professor and theorist Roderick Ferguson cites Sister Outsider as a critical influence in his book, Aberrations in Black in which he coins the term Queer of Color Critique.[30]

Sister Outsider received critical reception, as well. The book challenges readers' unacknowledged privileges and complicity in oppression.[31] Negative reviewers tended to focus on how Sister Outsider caused them discomfort with confronting their guilt as individuals whose identities occupy dominant positions within the United States, specifically through whiteness, maleness, youth, thinness, heterosexuality, Christianity, and financial security.[31] While some reviewers claimed that the work is hard to identify with if they are not similar to Lorde,[31] others refute this, claiming that Lorde uses a "flexible model of subject positioning" that allows readers of various backgrounds to determine points of similarity and difference, challenging their standard notions of selfhood and subjectivity.[15]

In The Man Question, Kathy Ferguson questions Lorde's employment of what she defines as "Cosmic Feminism", a feminism that relies on a feminine primitivism and values feelings that are more intense and seemingly deep-rooted.[32][33]


Further reading[edit]

  1. ^ abcCollins, Patricia Hill (2002-06-01). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 9781135960148. 
  2. ^ abcdeByrd, Rudolph P.; Cole, Johnnetta Betsch; Guy-Sheftall, Beverly (2009-03-24). I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde. Oxford University Press. pp. 28–31. ISBN 9780199887743. 
  3. ^ abcdChristian, Barbara (1984-08-01). "Dynamics of Difference". The Women's Review of Books. 1 (11): 6. doi:10.2307/4019543. JSTOR 4019543. 
  4. ^ abcdeBarale, Michèle Aina (1984-01-01). "Review". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 8 (1): 72–73. doi:10.2307/3346098. JSTOR 3346098. 
  5. ^ ab"Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Summary". Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  6. ^Wall, Cheryl A. (1990-01-01). Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticism, Theory, and Writing by Black Women. Routledge. p. 154. ISBN 9780415054614. 
  7. ^"Sister Outsider". Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  8. ^""Confronting the Concept of Intersectionality: The Legacy of Audre Lord" by Rachel A. Dudley". p. 39. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  9. ^"Audre Lorde's Life and Career". Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  10. ^ abcdeVeaux, Alexis De (2004-01-01). Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-393-01954-4. 
  11. ^ abLorde, Audre (2007-01-01). Sister outsider: essays and speeches. Berkeley, Calif.: Crossing Press. ISBN 978-1-58091-186-3. 
  12. ^""Of Sensual Matters: On Audre Lorde's "Poetry Is Not a Luxury" and "Uses of the Erotic"" by Ferguson, Roderick A. - Women's Studies Quarterly, Vol. 40, Issue 3/4, Fall 2012 | Online Research Library: Questia". Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  13. ^ abOlson, Lester C. (1997-02-01). "On the margins of rhetoric: Audre lorde transforming silence into language and action". Quarterly Journal of Speech. 83 (1): 49–70. doi:10.1080/00335639709384171. ISSN 0033-5630. 
  14. ^"Audre Lorde on Being a Black Lesbian Feminist". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  15. ^ abKeating, AnaLouise (1996). Women Reading Women Writing-self-invention in Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. p. 64. ISBN 1566394198. 
  16. ^"Audre Lorde and Black Male Feminism: How to Heal Chris Brown". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  17. ^"Un-Women's Liberation - The Feminist Wire". The Feminist Wire. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  18. ^"STANDARDS: Jaramillo, "No Comparative Context"". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  19. ^Olson, Lester C. (2000-01-01). "The Personal, the Political, and Others: Audre Lorde Denouncing "The Second Sex Conference"". Philosophy and Rhetoric. 33 (3): 259–285. doi:10.1353/par.2000.0019. ISSN 1527-2079. 
  20. ^Olson, Lester C. (1998-11-01). "Liabilities of language: Audre Lorde reclaiming difference". Quarterly Journal of Speech. 84 (4): 448–470. doi:10.1080/00335639809384232. ISSN 0033-5630. 
  21. ^"Jones, "On Pedagogy..."". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  22. ^Morris, Charles E. (2007-01-01). Queering Public Address: Sexualities in American Historical Discourse. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 263. ISBN 9781570036644. 
  23. ^Morris, Margaret Kissam (2002-01-01). "Audre Lorde: Textual Authority and the Embodied Self". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. 23 (1): 168–188. JSTOR 3347282. 
  24. ^ abNayak, Suryia (2014-09-04). Race, Gender and the Activism of Black Feminist Theory: Working with Audre Lorde. Routledge. ISBN 9781134073221. 
  25. ^Hernández, Daisy; Rehman, Bushra (2002-01-01). Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism. Seal Press. p. 287. ISBN 1580050670. 
  26. ^"Haraway_CyborgManifesto.html". p. 174. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  27. ^Ahmed, Sara (2013-11-15). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge. p. 86. ISBN 9781135205751. 
  28. ^ abVeaux, Alexis De (2004-01-01). Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-393-01954-4. 
  29. ^Williams, Yolanda, ed. (2007). Encyclopedia of African American women writers. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 375. ISBN 0313334293. 
  30. ^Ferguson, Roderick (2004). Aberrations in Black. University of Minnesota Press. p. 125. 
  31. ^ abcWall, Cheryl (1999). Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticism, Theory, and Writing by Black Women. Rutgers University Press. p. 167. ISBN 978-0813514635. 
  32. ^Li, Victor (2006-01-01). The Neo-primitivist Turn: Critical Reflections on Alterity, Culture, and Modernity. University of Toronto Press. p. 79. ISBN 9780802091116. 
  33. ^Ferguson, Kathy E. (1993-02-03). The Man Question: Visions of Subjectivity in Feminist Theory. University of California Press. p. 110. ISBN 9780520913028. 
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