Monday, December 12, 2016

Your silence will not protect you

To say I remember Audre Lorde fondly may seem like an odd thing--her messages were intended to generate nearly every kind of feedback except fondness--but in her I had the sensation of a fellow-traveler, a black, lesbian me who could write better and had a better sense of what it was she fought. She wrote in 1977 in "The Transformation of Silence into Languge and Action":
To question or to speak...could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly now [she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and then with liver cancer], without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words.
 I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

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