These Audre Lorde quotes will help make all our lives better.
Audre Lorde was an American poet, writer, feminist, librarian, and civil rights activist. Her work was influential to the anti-war, civil rights and women’s movement during the later half of the 20th century
Lorde’s poetry collections include “From a Land Where Other People Live” (1973) and “The Black Unicorn” (1978). She used her platform as a writer and poet to spread ideas about intersecting oppressions and experiences, especially those faced by women of color.
As an activist, Lorde participated in both the civil rights and feminist movements. She devoted her life to advocating for equality and used her voice and art to fight for what she believed in.
Audre Lorde died on November 17, 1992, on the island of St. Croix, leaving behind a legacy as a great warrior poet whose indefatigable spirit fought on many fronts. In her respect, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and powerful Audre Lorde quotes, collected from a variety of sources.
Audre Lorde quotes celebrating feminism and activism
1. “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
2. “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” – Audre Lorde
3. “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.” – Audre Lorde
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4. “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde
5. “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” – Audre Lorde
6. “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.” – Audre Lorde
7. “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde
8. “In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” – Audre Lorde
9. “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” – Audre Lorde
10. “The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” – Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde quotes on finding your voice
11. “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” – Audre Lorde
12. “…and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.” – Audre Lorde
13. “Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.” – Audre Lorde
14. “I learned so much from listening to people. And all I knew was, the only thing I had was honesty and openness.” – Audre Lorde
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of listening quotes that express the importance of listening.
15. “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.” – Audre Lorde
16. “We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit.” – Audre Lorde
17. “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. What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities. And in order for us to do this, we must allow each other our differences at the same time as we recognize our sameness.” – Audre Lorde
18. “The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives.” – Audre Lorde
19. “Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves–along with the renewed courage to try them out.” – Audre Lorde
20. “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.” – Audre Lorde
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Audre Lorde quotes on courage, strength and perseverance
21. “When times are hard, do something. If it works, do it some more. If it does not work, do something else. But keep going.” – Audre Lorde
22. “And I find I must remember that the pain is not its own reason for being. It is a part of living. And the only kind of pain that is intolerable is pain that is wasteful, pain from which we do not learn. And I think that we must learn to distinguish between the two.” – Audre Lorde
23. “And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives.” – Audre Lorde
24. “If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is discounted as a luxury, then we give up the core — the fountain — of our power, our womanness; we give up the future of our worlds.” – Audre Lorde
25. “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” – Audre Lorde
26. “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” – Audre Lorde
27. “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. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.” – Audre Lorde
28. “When a people share a 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 which is desperate and very deep.” – Audre Lorde
29. “When we create out of our experiences, as feminists of color, women of color, we have to develop those structures that will present and circulate our culture.” – Audre Lorde
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of international Women’s Day quotes celebrating womanhood.
30. “One of the hardest things to accept is learning to live within uncertainty and neither deny it nor hide behind it. Most of all, to listen to the messages of uncertainty without allowing them to immobilize me, nor keep me from the certainties of those truths in which I believe. I turn away from any need to justify the future- to live in what has not yet been. Believing, working for what has not yet been while living fully in the present now.” – Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde quotes on fighting for what you believe in
31. “The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.” – Audre Lorde
32. “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.” – Audre Lorde
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of quotes from black women for a boost of inspiration.
33. “The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.” – Audre Lorde
34. “Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.” – Audre Lorde
35. “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” – Audre Lorde
36. “I am my best work – a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.” – Audre Lorde
37. “Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.” – Audre Lorde
38. “We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.” – Audre Lorde
39. “You become strong by doing the things you need to be strong for. This is the way genuine learning takes place. That’s a very difficult way to live, but it also has served me. It’s been an asset as well as a liability.” – Audre Lorde
40. “We recognize that all knowledge is mediated through the body and that feeling is a profound source of information about our lives.” – Audre Lorde
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Audre Lorde quotes to help you find inspiration throughout your battles
41. “Learning not to crumple before these uncertainties fuels my resolve to print myself upon the texture of each day fully rather than forever.” – Audre Lorde
42. “The more I use my strength in the service of my vision the less I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde
43. “We must constantly encourage ourselves and each other to attempt the heretical actions that our dreams imply and so many of our old ideas disparage.” – Audre Lorde
44. “Out of my flesh that hungers and my mouth that knows comes the shape I am seeking for reason.” – Audre Lorde
45. “Our visions begin with our desires.” – Audre Lorde
46. “In the forefront of our move toward change, there is only poetry to hint at possibility made real.” – Audre Lorde
47. “As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.” – Audre Lorde
48. “I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk through the rain.” – Audre Lorde
49. “Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.” – Audre Lorde
50. “To acknowledge privilege is the first step in making it available for wider use. Each of us is blessed in some particular way, whether we recognize our blessings or not. And each one of us, somewhere in our lives, must clear a space within that blessing where she can call upon whatever resources are available to her in the name of something that must be done.” – Audre Lorde
Which of these Audre Lorde quotes was your favorite?
Audre Lorde’s work gave voice to issues of race, gender and sexuality. Although she is long gone, her work continues to shape contemporary feminist and womanist thought.
There are many reasons to love Audre Lorde and keep her legacy alive. Despite not having an easy childhood, she accomplished much in her life. Hopefully, the above quotes will give you the courage to fight for your dreams.
Which of these Audre Lorde quotes resonated with you best? Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add? Tell us in the comment section below.
May 5, 2019 8:15 AM EST