Monday, January 16, 2012

In Honor of M.L. King Day: Audre Lorde on Truth-Telling

And, finally, in commemoration of today's Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, the following from Audre Lorde's book A Burst of Light (Ithaca, NY: Firebrand, 1988): 

And I wonder what I may be risking as I become more and more committed to telling whatever truth comes across my eyes my tongue my pen—no matter how difficult—the world as I see it, people as I feel them (pp. 51-2). 
I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do.  I am going to write fire until it comes out of my ears, my eyes, my nose holes—everywhere.  Until it’s every breath I breathe (pp. 76-7).

Lorde wrote these words as she faced a terminal diagnosis with cancer.  She died in 1992, having battled incredible odds to write--and to write the truth, unreservedly--as an African-American woman who also happened to be lesbian.  She epitomizes for me the courage and creativity of an indomitable human being who refuses to permit society's assessment of her worth to dictate what she is.  And what she does.

And it was for people like Audre Lorde that Martin Luther King worked and gave his life.  So that they might have a chance, at last, and we might all benefit from their talents, which do not have a hearing or a playing field in societies dictated by prejudice.

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