It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.
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.
The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of third world women leaves a serious gap within this conference.
The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of third world women leaves a serious gap within this conference..
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.
Black women sharing close ties with each other, politically or emotionally, are not the enemies of Black men.
I think that in America there are certain kind of problems and in Russia there are certain kinds of problems, but basically, when you find people who start from a position where human beings are at the core, as opposed to a position where profit is at the core, the solutions can be very different.
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.
And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.
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. (From Poetry is Not a Luxury).
DeLois lived up the block on 142nd Street and never had her hair done, and all the neighbourhood women sucked their teeth as she walked by. Her crispy hair twinkled in the summer sun as her big proud stomach moved her on down the block while I watched, not caring whether or not she was a poem.
In a society where the good is defined in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, there must always be some group of people who, through systematised oppression, can be made to feel surplus, to occupy the space of the dehumanised inferior.
Did you ever read my words, or did you merely finger through them for quotations which you thought might valuably support an already conceived idea concerning some old and distorted connection between us?
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 throught the rain.
People in markets find a way of getting down to the essentials of I have, you want; you have, I want.
Battling racism and battling heterosexism and battling apartheid share the same urgency inside me as battling cancer.
I have no creative use for guilt, yours or my own. Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action, of buying time out of the pressing need to make clear choices, out of the approaching storm that can feed the earth as well as bend the trees.
What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heel print upon another woman's face?
What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heelprint upon another woman's face? What woman's terms of oppression have become precious and necessary to her as a ticket into the fold of the righteous, away from the cold winds of self-scrutiny?
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.
Learning not to crumple before these uncertainties fuels my resolve to print myself upon the texture of each day fully rather than forever.
Love is a word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes
into a knot of flame
I am Black
because I come from the earth's inside
take my word for jewel
in the open light.
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.
In discussions around the hiring and firing of Black faculty at universities, the charge is frequently heard that Black women are more easily hired than are Black men.
I learned to read from Mrs. Augusta Baker, the children's librarian. ... If that was the only good deed that lady ever did in her life, may she rest in peace. Because that deed saved my life, if not sooner, then later, when sometimes the only thing I had to hold on to was knowing I could read.
For we have built into all of us, old blueprints of expectation and response, old structures of oppression and these must be altered at the same time that we alter the living condition which are the result of those structures. For the master's tool will never dismantle the master's house.
Every Black woman in America lives her life somewhere along a wide curve of ancient and unexpressed angers.
When there is no connection at all between people, then anger is a way of bringing them closer together, of making contact. But when there is a great deal of connectedness that is problematic or threatening or unacknowledged, then anger is a way of keeping people separate, of putting distance between us.
If you don't define yourself for yourself then you will be crushed into other's fantasies of you and eaten alive.
The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling.
When I speak of the erotic, then I speak of it as an assertion of the life force of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.
The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation.
The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have often turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with its opposite, the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.
The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire.
As we come to know, accept, and explore our feelings, they will become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas-the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action.
The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.
I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable.
Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.
I am my best work -- a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.
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.
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.
If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough.
Pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.
There is a timbre of voice that comes from not being heard and knowing you are not being heard noticed only by others not heard for the same reason.
My experience with people who tried to label me was that they usually did it to either dismiss me or use me.
Perhaps...I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am a lesbian, because I am myself -- a Black woman warrior poet doing my work -- come to ask you, are you doing yours?
Raising Black children-female and male-in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy. If they cannot love and resist at the same time, they will probably not survive.
I have suckled the wolf's lip of anger and I have used it for illumination, laughter, protection, fire in places where there was no light, no food, no sisters, no quarter.
There are many lesbians and gay men trapped by their fear into silence and invisibility, and they exist in a dim valley of terror wearing nooses of conformity.
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.
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. It is this real connection, which is so feared by a patriarchal world.
Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.
To face the realities of our lives is not a reason for despair-despair is a tool of your enemies. Facing the realities of our lives gives us motivation for action. For you are not powerless... You know why the hard questions must be asked. It is not altruism, it is self-preservation-survival.
For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it.
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.
I know the anger lies inside of me like I know the beat of my heart and the taste of my spit. It is easier to be furious than to be yearning. Easier to crucify myself in you than to take on the threatening universe of whiteness by admitting that we are worth wanting each other.
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 own oppression as women.
Any world which did not have a place for me loving women was not a world in which I wanted to live, nor one which I could fight for.
Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people.
Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human difference between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.
The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself.
I forgot what we were celebrating. Because we were always celebrating something, a new job, a new poem, a new love, a new dream.
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.
I am still learning -- how to take joy in all the people I am, how to use all my selves in the service of what I believe, how to accept when I fail and rejoice when I succeed.
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.
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.
I am a Black Lesbian Feminist Warrior Poet Mother, stronger for all my identities, and I am indivisible.
We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way.
My anger has meant pain to me but it has also meant survival, and before I give it up I'm going to be sure that there is something at least as powerful to replace it on the road to clarity.
Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. I am who I am, doing what I came to do, acting upon you like a drug or a chisel to remind you of your me-ness, as I discover you in myself.
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.
I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.
Black women have on one hand always been highly visible, and so, on the other hand, have been rendered invisible through the depersonalization of racism.
The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines the human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need -- the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It's not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.
It has rained for five days
the world is
a round puddle
of sunless water
where small islands
are only beginning
a young boy
in my garden
is bailing out water
from his flower patch
when I ask him why
he tells me
young seeds that have not seen sun
and drown easily.
But the true feminist deals out of a lesbian consciousness whether or not she ever sleeps with women.
We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.
And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.
I became more courageous by doing the very things I needed to be courageous for-first, a little, and badly. Then, bit by bit, more and better. Being avidly-sometimes annoy-ingly-curious and persistent about discovering how others were doing what I wanted to do.
Tomorrow belongs to those of us who conceive of it as belonging to everyone; who lend the best of ourselves to it, and with joy.
Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.
Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge. They are chaotic, sometimes painful, sometimes contradictory, but they come from deep within us. And we must key into those feelings... This is how new visions begin.
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.
There are lesbians, God knows... if you came up through lesbian circles in the forties and fifties in New York... who were not feminist and would not call themselves feminists.
Part of the lesbian consciousness is an absolute recognition of the erotic within our lives and, taking that a step further, dealing with the erotic not only in sexual terms.
But, on the other hand, I get bored with racism too and recognize that there are still many things to be said about a Black person and a White person loving each other in a racist society.
Attend me, hold me in your muscular flowering arms, protect me from throwing any part of myself away.
I would like to do another piece of fiction dealing with a number of issues: Lesbian parenting, the 1960's, and interracial relationships in the Lesbian and Gay community.
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.
Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.
The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.
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.
When I use my strength in the service of my vision it makes no difference whether or not I am afraid.