80 years ago today Audre Lorde was born.
This morning I saw this picture on Facebook and while I knew I had read the quote before it did not really resonant with me.
This afternoon as I was walking my dog the quote came back to me, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” All I could think was that I was afraid of everything. When I got back to the house and climbed in bed for nap (something I rarely have time for), I noticed one of my business cards on the floor. On the back was printed: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing”. I thought to myself, had I really forgotten that quote? A few months ago the quote meant enough to me, to be printed on my business cards. I felt that quote and believed it for my life. Now just a few months later I barely recognize those words. Truth is I am barely recognizing myself.
Today I am grateful. I am grateful for the spirit and the light that is Audre Lorde. This fierce Black lesbian feminist warrior poet, who left a body of work and a legacy that, teaches us how to survive. To survive in spaces where we were never meant to. To define ourselves. To speak. To survive. How to deal with fear. How to use anger. The erotic. That teaches us the power of freeing ourselves and others. On days like today when fear surrounds my body I am grateful for Audre Lorde. On mornings like last Sunday when I finally ended a silence that has crippled me since I was 16, despite my fears I spoke my truth…on mornings like those I grateful for Audre Lorde. I am indebted to my ancestors, those fierce Black women who came before and just by surviving showed me I could.
As part of my interview for my new position, I had to teach a class. I used Audre Lorde’s “The transformation of silence into language and action,” that was a deliberate choice. I understood despite my fears, the ancestors were walking with me and guiding me. From my conversations with my new colleagues, I believe it was teaching that lesson, that got me the job.
Happy Birthday Audre, may your light always shine in the darkest of places. Ase.
A Litany for Survival by Audre Lorde
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
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
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
but when we are silent
we are still afraid.
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.