50 Audre Lorde Quotes on Intersectionality and Empowerment

Black-and-white photo of Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde—first of her name, breaker of limitations, guardian of complexity. She's a Black lesbian feminist icon. It’s hard to talk about intersectionality and radical love without mentioning or hearing about Lorde. When the Civil Rights Movement was being dominated by Black men and the feminist movement was becoming a pedestal for white women, Lorde had the audacity to be Black, queer, woman and unapologetic.

This audacity gave birth to the essays and poetry that offered permission to all queer people of color to find their rightful place in our social justice movements. For what is equality for some at the expense of others but another form of oppression? Take in her words and find the courage to see yourself and those around you as whole with these unforgettable quotes.

Related: Racial Justice Quotes

Best Audre Lorde Quotes

1. “In a world of possibility for us all, our personal visions help lay the groundwork for political action.”

2. “There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise.”

3. “For wherever our oppression manifests itself in this country, Black people are potential victims.”

4. “If you can’t change reality, change your perceptions of it.”



5. “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”

6. “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.”

7. “I am trying to become the strongest person I can become to live the life I have been given and to help effect change toward a liveable future for this earth and for my children.”

8. “Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."

9. “Black women have on one hand always been highly visible, and so, on the other hand, have been rendered invisible through the depersonalization of racism.”

10. “Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.”

11. “I know that my people cannot possibly profit from the oppression of any other group which seeks the right to peaceful existence.”

12. "Unacknowledged class differences rob women of each others' energy and creative insight.”

Related: James Baldwin Quotes

. “Oppressed peoples are always being asked to stretch a little more, to bridge the gap between blindness and humanity.”



14. “Among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children there can be no hierarchies of oppression.”

15. “I have lived with that anger, ignoring it, feeding upon it, learning to use it before it laid my visions to waste, for most of my life.”

16. “And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from  all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible.”

17. “For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence.”

18. “Mainstream communication does not want women, particularly white women, responding to racism. It wants racism to be accepted as an immutable given in the fabric of your existence, like evening-time or the common cold.”

19. “Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You 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 upon the reasons they’re dying.”

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20. “If I speak to you in anger, at least I have spoken to you.”

21. “Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You 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 upon the reasons they’re dying.”

22. “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.”



23. “Of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger.”

24. “I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group.”

25. “Our future survival is predicated upon our ability to relate within equality.”

26. “For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power I rediscovered.”

27. “I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.”

28. “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.”

29. “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

30. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

31. “Without community there is no liberation.”

32. “If I speak to you in anger, at least I have spoken to you.”

33. “Anger is an appropriate reaction to racist attitudes, as is fury when the actions arising from those attitudes do not change.”

34. “But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification, for it is in the painful process of this translation that we identify who are our allies with whom we have grave differences, and who are our genuine enemies.”



35. “In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.”

36. “I do not want to be tolerated, nor misnamed. I want to be recognized.”

37. “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”

38. “Women are powerful and dangerous.”

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39. “As Black women we have the right and responsibility to define ourselves and to seek our allies in common cause: with Black men against racism, and with each other and white women against sexism. But most of all, as Black women we have the right and responsibility to recognize each other without fear and to love where we choose.”

40. “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.”

41. “We cannot allow our fear of anger to deflect us nor seduce us into settling for anything less than the hard work of excavating honesty.”

42. “We need a movement [that] encourages you and me to define ourselves.”

43. “Revolution is not a one time event.”

44. “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”



45. “Whatever power we have that we don’t use will become an instrument against us, the question of differences is a perfect example. If we do not learn to use our differences constructively they will continue to be used against as causes for war. We must turn this around, not by eliminating difference or pretending it doesn’t exist, but examining how it may be used and recognized.”

46. “In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences.”

47. “When I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.”

48. “But the strength of women lies in recognizing differences between us as creative, and in standing to those distortions which we inherited without blame, but which are now ours to alter.”

49. “I must battle these forces of discrimination, .wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.”

50. “I am standing here as a Black lesbian poet, and the meaning of all that waits upon the fact that I am still alive, and might not have been.”

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