day 6

March 08, 2018 Roobs Leiser

today is thursday march 8th. it is international women’s day. if my life did not actively revolve around an aim to empower women, today might be cause for unusual celebration. as it stands, i try my best to do this on a daily basis, and - especially given that this entire month will be dedicated to amplifying the voices of women - today is merely day 6. 
i struggled with the idea of picking *one* woman who would stand as the mascot for international women’s day. so instead i picked a quote, and with that quote, comes the woman who spoke it. 
audre lorde
b. 1934
d. 1992
she was a writer, a poet, a feminist, a civil rights activist. to many - myself included, a genius. her work deals with womanhood, black female identity, civil rights, race, sexuality, health. i would be doing her, and all those who love & respect her, a disservice by attempting to explain in a few short words here what makes her great. how could my words ever hope to give glory to someone who has mastered words? who can bend and shape language into something more than letters on a page could ever hope to be? instead, i will send you on your way with a plea to get your hands on her work, and with the closing paragraphs of a speech she made in 1981:
"What woman here is so enamoured of her own oppression that she cannot see her heelprint upon another woman’s face?  What woman’s terms of oppression have become precious and necessary to her as a ticket into the fold of the righteous, away from the cold winds of self-scrutiny?

I am a lesbian woman of Color whose children eat regularly because I work in a university. If their full bellies make me fail to recognize my commonality with a woman of Color whose children do not eat because she cannot find work, or who has no children because her insides are rotted from home abortions and sterilization; if I fail to recognize the lesbian who chooses not to have children, the woman who remains closeted because her homophobic community is her only life support, the woman who chooses silence instead of another death, the woman who is terrified lest my anger trigger the explosion of hers; if I fail to recognize them as other faces of myself, then I am contributing not only to each of their oppressions but also to my own, and the anger which stands between us then must be used for clarity and mutual empowerment, not for evasion by guilt or for further separation. I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is any one of you.

I speak here as a woman of Color who is not bent upon destruction, but upon survival. No woman is responsible for altering the psyche of her oppressor, even when that psyche is embodied in another woman. I have suckled the wolf’s lip of anger and I have used it for illumination, laughter, protection, fire in places where there was no light, no food, no sisters, no quarter. We are not goddesses or matriarchs or edifices of divine forgiveness; we are not fiery fingers of judgment or instruments of flagellation; we are women forced back always upon our woman’s power. We have learned to use anger as we have learned to use the dead flesh of animals, and bruised, battered, and changing, we have survived and grown and, in Angela Wilson’s words, we are moving on. With or without uncolored women. We use whatever strengths we have fought for, including anger, to help define and fashion a world where all our sisters can grow, where our children can love, and where the power of touching and meeting another woman’s difference and wonder will eventually transcend the need for destruction.

For it is not the anger of Black women which is dripping down over this globe like a diseased liquid. It is not my anger that launches rockets, spends over sixty thousand dollars a second on missiles and other agents of war and death, slaughters children in cities, stockpiles nerve gas and chemical bombs, sodomizes our daughters and our earth. It is not the anger of Black women which corrodes into blind, dehumanizing power, bent upon the annihilation of us all unless we meet it with what we have, our power to examine and to redefine the terms upon which we will live and work; our power to envision and to reconstruct, anger by painful anger, stone upon heavy stone, a future of pollinating difference and the earth to support our choices.

We welcome all women who can meet us, face to face, beyond objectification and beyond guilt.”

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published