I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde

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Audre Lorde was not only a famous poet; she was also one of the most important radical black feminists of the past century. Her writings and speeches grappled with an impressive broad list of topics, including sexuality, race, gender, class, disease, the arts, parenting, and resistance, and they have served as a transformative and important foundation for theorists and activists in considering questions of power and social justice. Lorde embraced difference, and at each turn she emphasized the importance of using it to build shared strength among marginalized communities.

I Am Your Sister is a collection of Lorde's non-fiction prose, written between 1976 and 1990, and it introduces new perspectives on the depth and range of Lorde's intellectual interests and her commitments to progressive social change. Presented here, for the first time in print, is a major body of Lorde's speeches and essays, along with the complete text of A Burst of Light and Lorde's landmark prose works Sister Outsider and The Cancer Journals. Together, these writings reveal Lorde's commitment to a radical course of thought and action, situating her works within the women's, gay and lesbian, and African American Civil Rights movements. They also place her within a continuum of black feminists, from Sojourner Truth, to Anna Julia Cooper, Amy Jacques Garvey, Lorraine Hansberry, and Patricia Hill Collins. I Am Your Sister concludes with personal reflections from Alice Walker, Gloria Joseph, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, and bell hooks on Lorde's political and social commitments and the indelibility of her writings for all who are committed to a more equitable society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book, clearly a labor of love by three colleagues who also call themselves friends, meets its objectives and more...This invaluable collections enables us to hear [Lorde's] voice again and to use the life lessons she shared with us."—Women's Review of Books

"A thorough survey, to say the least...I Am Your Sister reveals [Lorde's] legacy anew."—Bitch Magazine

"The editors of this abundant feast of a book remind us of the importance of [Audre Lorde's] work, which for 40 years has served as a foundation and catalyst for questions of identity, difference, power and social justice. There is much to ponder, discuss, teach and revere in this compilation."—Ms. Magazine

"I Am Your Sister is a collection for those who want and need to be introduced to Audre Lorde's thinking, and it is a great anthology for those who have read and been inspired by Lorde's writing all of their lives...a celebration, an honoring, and a thoughtful presentation of who Lorde was...an eye opener to how the struggles of past times continue to be what we grapple with today...a tool for survival—a teacher to help us realize our possibilities for change."—Feminist Review

"I Am Your Sister combines some of Lorde's most powerful essays with previously unavailable writings, as well as reflections on her work from other influential artists and activists."—Southern Voice

"In 'harsh and urgent clarity' Audre Lorde spoke directly to 'that chaos which exists before understanding,' insisting on work to be done, the necessity for difficult alliances, for standing up to be counted, and for inclusive liberation. The poetic realism of these essays and speeches resonates here and now."—Adrienne Rich, poet, essayist, activist

"Audre Lorde's unpublished writings, combined with her now classic essays, reveal her to be as relevant today as during the latter twentieth century when she first spoke to us. This new collection should be read by all who understand justice to be indivisible, embracing race, gender, sexuality, class, and beyond, and who recognize, as she so succinctly put it, that 'there is no separate surivial.'"—Angela Y. Davis, author of Women, Race & Class and Are Prisons Obsolete?

"Provacative and profound, the work of poet, essayist, and autobiographer, Audre Lorde, has positively affected scholars and writers, teachers and students, feminists, gays, lesbians, and indeed countless individuals in the United States and elsewhere who have struggled with the question of how to integrate aesthetic, cultural, and political concerns. Now, with the publication of this collection of some of Lorde's best writing, we all have the opportunity to consider seriously Lorde's legacy and to continue in our efforts to resist the silencing of our various communities, our various selves in these wondrous and difficult times."—Robert F. Reid-Pharr, author of Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Rudolph P. Byrd is the Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts and the Department of African American Studies, and is the Founding Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole is President Emerita of Spelman College and Bennett College for Women, and Professor Emerita of Emory University. She is currently Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art.

Beverly Guy-Sheftall is Founding Director of the Women's Research and Resource Center and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies at Spelman College. She is also an adjunct professor at Emory University's Institute for Women's Studies.

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Table of Contents

Credits xiii

Introduction. Create Your Own Fire: Audre Lorde and the Tradition of Black Radical Thought Rudolph P. Byrd 3

Part I From Sister Outsider And A Burst Of Light

1 The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action 39

2 Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface 44

3 Sadomasochism: Not About Condemnation: An Interview with Audre Lorde Susan Leigh Star 50

4 I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities 57

5 Apartheid U.S.A. 64

6 Turning the Beat Around: Lesbian Parenting 1986 73

7 A Burst of Light: Living with Cancer 81

Part II. My Words Will Be Three

8 Eva's Man by Gayl Jones: A Review 153

9 Self-Definition and My Poetry 156

10 Introduction: Movement in Black by Pat Parker 158

11 My Words Will Be There 160

12 Foreword to the English Edition of Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte 169

13 Preface to a New Edition of Need: A Chorale for Black Woman Voices 177

14 Poet as Teacher-Human as Poet-Teacher as Human 182

15 Poetry Makes Something Happen 184

16 My Mother's Mortar 188

Part III Difference And Survival

17 Difference and Survival: An Address at Hunter College 201

18 The First Black Feminist Retreat: July 6, 1977 205

19 When Will the Ignorance End? Keynote Speech at the National Third World Gay and Lesbian Conference, October 13, 1979 207

20 An Address Delivered as Part of the "Litany of Commitment" at the March on Washington, August 27, 1983 212

21 Commencement Address: Oberlin College, May 29, 1989 213

22 There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression 219

23 What Is at Stake in Lesbian and Gay Publishing Today: The Bill Whitehead Award Ceremony, 1990 221

24 Is Your Hair Still Political? 224

Part IV Reflections

25 Audre Lorde: My Shero, My Teacher, My Sister Friend Johnnetta Betsch Cole 231

26 Audre's Voice Alice Walker 238

27 Lorde: The Imagination of Justice Bell hooks 242

28 Remembering Audre Lorde Gloria I. Joseph 249

Epilogue. Bearing Witness: The Legacy of Audre Lorde Beverly Guy-Sheftall 253

Contributors 261

Selected Bibliography 265

Chronology 267

Index 269

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