I bought Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches after reading her essay ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power‘ for my blog on Black Jamaican feminist politics of pleasure. Audre Lorde was one of the foremost thinkers in the field of Black feminism. ‘Uses of the Erotic’ made it clear to me right away why:
This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. 1
Audre Lorde writes with daring honesty in this essay and others in Sister Outsider. I don’t think I’ve read anyone who made a point to use a Black women’s lens in writing and in life as boldly as she did.
For example, in the first essay, ‘Notes from a Trip to Russia,‘ Lorde journals about how she agitated for Black rights, networked in her field, and flirted with a woman while at the 1976 African-Asian Writers Conference. All of this she pairs with an insightful analysis of socialism, capitalism, and racism in the United States and Russia.
I see Audre Lorde’s legacy in the work of Black women today. For instance, when I think of #BlackGirlMagic nowadays, in my mind I hear the interlude on Solange’s ‘A Seat at the Table‘ where a trio of Black songbirds remind us to make sure no one steals our magic.
I feel #BlackGirlMagic can defined by these words in Audre Lorde’s essay ‘Poetry is Not a Luxury:’
For each of us as women ,there is a dark place within, where hidden and growing our true spirit rises, “beautiful/and though as chestnut/stanchions against (y)our nightmare of weakness/ and of impotence. 2
Audre Lorde not only asks us to be sure no one steals our magic, but also that we use this magic as a productive force to resist a world that disregards the power of women’s emotional intelligence.
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