50+ Audre Lorde Quotes for Strength and Resilience

Mayuri Meshram
By Mayuri Meshram  - Editor

Audre Lorde was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She was a remarkable figure who challenged societal norms as a Black feminist, lesbian, poet, and activist. Her words have inspired and empowered people for years, and her legacy lives on through her powerful quotes.

In this article, we’ll delve into some of Lorde’s most famous quotes and the important messages they convey. Regardless of whether you’re already familiar with her work or just discovering it, you’re sure to be moved by the insight and wisdom found in Audre Lorde’s words.

Who is Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was a Black feminist, lesbian, poet, and activist. She was born in New York City in 1934 and died in 1992. Lorde was a vocal advocate for social justice and equality, particularly for marginalized communities. She wrote extensively on issues related to race, gender, sexuality, and identity, and her work has had a profound impact on feminist and queer theory.

Here are a few interesting facts about Audre Lorde:

  • She was born in Harlem to parents who were immigrants from Grenada.
  • Lorde began writing poetry at a young age and published her first poem in Seventeen magazines at the age of 17.
  • Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978 and wrote extensively about her experience with the disease.
  • She co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, which was the first U.S. publisher for women of color.
  • Lorde was openly lesbian and wrote extensively about her experiences as a queer woman of color.
  • She received numerous awards and honors throughout her life, including the American Book Award and the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit.

Famous Audre Lorde Quotes

A choice of pains. That’s what living was all about.

Audre Lorde Quotes

What gets me about the United States is that it pretends to be honest and therefore has so little room to move toward hope.

Your silence will not protect you

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

Audre Lorde Quotes

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

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

Audre Lorde Quotes

Revolution is not a one-time event.

In our world, divide and conquer must become defined and empowered.

Audre Lorde Quotes

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.

We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.

Audre Lorde Quotes

When people share common oppression, certain kinds of skills and joint defenses are developed. And if you survive you survive, because those skills and defenses have worked. When you come into conflict over other existing differences, there is a vulnerability to each other that is desperate and very deep.

You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same.

Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.

Audre Lorde Quotes

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.

When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I’m not excluding you from the joining—I’m broadening the joining.

There is nothing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.

Audre Lorde Quotes

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.

Too often, we pour the energy needed for recognizing and exploring difference into pretending those differences are insurmountable barriers, or that they do not exist at all.

You become strong by doing the things you need to be strong for.

Audre Lorde Quotes

Unity implies the coming together of elements that are, to begin with, varied and diverse in their particular natures.

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.

Audre Lorde Quotes

Anger, used, does not destroy. Hatred does.

We share a common interest, survival, and it cannot be pursued in isolation from others simply because their differences make us uncomfortable.

Wherever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs.

Audre Lorde Quotes

Within each one of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust.

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.

Hatred is the fury of those who do not share our goals, and its object is death and destruction. Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is changed.

I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.

Without community, there is no liberation.

Inspiring Quotes by Audre Lorde

I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answer anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts.

I am my best work – a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.

For Black women as well as Black men, it is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others—for their use and to our detriment.

But the true feminist deals out of a lesbian consciousness whether or not she ever sleeps with women.

We do not have to romanticize our past in order to be aware of how it seeds our present.

Unless one life and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.

We do not have to suffer the waste of amnesia that robs us of the lessons of the past rather than permits us to read them with pride as well as deep understanding.

Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.

We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.

How are you practicing what you preach—whatever you preach, and who is exactly listening?

This is how I learned that if I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.

The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.

There are so many ways in which I’m vulnerable… I’m not going to be more vulnerable by putting weapons of silence in my enemies’ hands.

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.

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.

The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The black goddess within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free.

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.

How much of this truth can I bear to see and still live unblinded? How much of this pain can I use?

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.

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 is rediscovered.

I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I’ll be sending messages on a Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.

Black women are programmed to define ourselves within this male attention and to compete with each other for it rather than to recognize and move upon our common interests.

Without community, there is no liberation…but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.

Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people.[/alert-warning]

As white women ignore their built-in privilege of whiteness and define woman in terms of their own experience alone, then women of Color become ‘other,’ the outsider whose experience and tradition is too ‘alien’ to comprehend.

Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak.

The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us, and which knows only the oppressors’ tactics, the oppressors’ relationships.

Some women wait for themselves around the next corner and call the empty spot peace but the opposite of living is only not living and the stars do not care.

If I participate, knowingly or otherwise, in my sister’s oppression and she calls me on it, to answer her anger with my own only blankets the substance of our exchange with reaction. It wastes energy.

You cannot, you cannot use someone else’s fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.

What better way is there to police the streets of a minority community than to turn one generation against the other?

If they cannot love and resist at the same time, they probably will not survive.

The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us—the poet—whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free.

I soon discovered that if you keep your mouth shut, people are apt to believe you know everything, and they begin to feel freer and freer to tell you anything, anxious to show that they know something, too.

There’s always someone asking you to underline one piece of yourself – whether it’s Black, woman, mother, dyke, teacher, etc. – because that’s the piece that they need to key in to. They want to dismiss everything else.

However, experience has taught us that action in the now is also necessary, always.

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.

We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit.

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?

I learned so much from listening to people. And all I knew was, the only thing I had was honesty and openness.

I cried to think of how lucky we both were to have found each other, since it was clear that we were the only ones in the world who could understand what we understood in the instantaneous manner in which we understood it.

We are powerful because we have survived, and that is what it is all about—survival and growth.

The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression as women.

Did you find these quotes by Audre Lorde inspiring?

As we come to the end of this article on Audre Lorde quotes, let us remember that her words are not just words, but a call to action.

They challenge us to examine our own biases and privilege, to listen to those whose voices have been silenced, and to stand up for what is right, even when it is difficult.

Let us be inspired by Audre Lorde’s courage and conviction, and let her words guide us towards a more compassionate and equitable world.

Share This Article
Avatar photo
By Mayuri Meshram Editor
Mayuri is a professional content writer, she loves motivating people and inspiring them to pursue their dreams. Sharing quotes, proverbs, and sayings of great authors to touch people's lives to make it better.