If you do not learn to hate you will never be lonely enough to love easily nor will you always be brave, although it does not grow any easier. Do not pretend to convenient beliefs, even when they are righteous; you will never be able to defend your city while shouting.
For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.
For each of us as women, there is a dark place within, where hidden and growing our true spirit rises, beautiful and tough as chestnut stanchions against our nightmare of weakness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling
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. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect....what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? ...Death on the other hand, is the final silence...my silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you.
Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it. ... pain will always either change or stop. Always. ... The confidence that it will change is what makes bearing it possible. So pain is fluid. It is only when you conceive of it as something static that it is unbearable.
You loved people and you came to depend on their being there. but people died or changed or went away and it hurt too much. The only way to avoid that poin was not to love anyone, and not to let anyone get too close or too important. The secret of not being hurt like this again, I decided, was never depending on anyone, never needing, never loving.It is the last dream of children, to be forever untouched.
Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] 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 on the reasons they are dying.
Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference - those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older - know that survival is not an academic skill...For the master's tools will not dismantle the master's house. They will never allow us to bring about genuine change.
Of all the art forms, poetry is the most economical. It is the one which is the most secret, which requires the least physical labor, the least material, and the one which can be done between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway, and on scraps of surplus paper. ... poetry has been the major voice of poor, working class, and Colored women. A room of one's own may be a necessity for writing prose, but so are reams of paper, a typewriter, and plenty of time.
I stand here as a black lesbian feminist, having been invited to comment within the only panel at this conference where the input of black feminists and lesbians is represented. What this says about the vision of this conference is sad, in a country where racism, sexism and homophobia are inseparable. . . .
To face the realities of our lives is not a reason for despair-despair is a tool of your enemies. Facing the realities of our lives gives us motivation for action. For you are not powerless... You know why the hard questions must be asked. It is not altruism, it is self-preservation-survival.
Within the lesbian community I am Black, and within the Black community I am a lesbian. Any attack against Black people is a lesbian and gay issue, because I and thousands of other Black women are part of the lesbian community. Any attack against lesbians and gays is a Black issue, because thousands of lesbians and gay men are Black. There is no hierarchy of oppression.
But in a crunch, when all our asses are in the sling, it looks like it is easier to deal with the samenesses. When we deal with sameness only, we develop weapons that we use against each other when the differences become apparent. And we wipe each other out - Black men and women can wipe each other out - far more effectively than outsiders do.
If you come as softly As wind within the trees You may hear what I hear See what sorrow sees. If you come as lightly As threading dew I will take you gladly Nor ask more of you. You may sit beside me Silent as a breath Only those who stay dead Shall remember death. And if you come I will be silent Nor speak harsh words to you. I will not ask you why, now. Or how, or what you do. We shall sit here, softly Beneath two different years And the rich earth between us Shall drink our... Read more »
I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which 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.
Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.
Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.
If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism?
... poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.
Whenever a conscious Black woman raises her voice on issues central to her existence, somebody is going to call her strident, because they don't want to hear about it, nor us. I refuse to be silenced and I refuse to be trivialized, even if I do not say what I have to say perfectly.
Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. it is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely toleration, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within the interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters
From my membership in all of these groups I have learned that oppression and the intolerance of difference come in all shapes and sizes and colors and sexualities; and that among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression.