- Written byElizabeth Farrell Geiger, M.A., Ed.M.
“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.” - Audre Lorde
I was just re-introduced to this quote by a professor of mine and was reminded of the power behind this message. Audre Lorde identified herself as “a Black lesbian mother poet” her work touched on topics such as love, racism, sexism, heterosexism, survival, motherhood, and powerful emotions such as anger and rage. In addition, she spoke a lot about her duty to “speak the truth” and the deeply embedded fear behind such a responsibility. Lorde was beautifully honest in that she discussed the paralyzing fear in having a voice and how she personally battled the desire, and often imposed through system of oppression, to self-silence.
The above quote reminded me of a similar quote from one of Lorde’s works in which she states, “your silences will not protect you.” These are two quotes that I have held onto for a while but I find them to be extremely relevant to issues surrounding race relations that our country has been and is continuing to face. Talking about race is difficult and emotionally heavy. For people of color there is often a fear of being shut down with labels such as “too sensitive” or “overreacting,” downplaying and often denying their lived reality. For White people there tends to be a fear of saying the wrong thing or coming off as “offensive.” Of course for White people there is also the privilege to not address race at all and to walk away from these conversations… but that is something I could write a whole other blog post about. As for this post I would like to focus on the fear behind having a voice.
This fear as Lorde talks about, “protects no one” and it takes “power” and “strength” to speak up about the things you believe to be important and necessary for change. Now I could go on and on about this topic but for the purpose of this post I simply want to share Lorde’s wisdom and challenge you all to have a voice. I like to revisit Audre Lorde’s work from time to time to remind myself that yes it is normal to be afraid but that this fear is not important, it is my voice that matters.