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May 2021

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The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House by Audre Lorde

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
People interested in some seriously good essays from a poet and activist.

In a nutshell:
This mini book contains five of Lorde’s essays / speeches on revolution and liberation.

Worth quoting:
“To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our society.”

“Only within a patriarchal structure is maternity the only social power open to women.”

“Can anyone here still afford to believe that the pursuit of liberation can be the sole and particular province of any one particular race, or sex, or age, or religion, or sexuality, or class?

Why I chose it:
This was included in one of my subscription boxes.

Review:
I had heard Lorde’s phrase that is the title of this collection, but I had no idea of the context of it – she had been invited to speak at conference on feminism, was told many different concepts and facets of womanhood and feminist would be represented, and instead was faced with a big group of white feminists instead. She was no pleased, and made it known. That talk unfortunately could have taken place a week ago – I think we see it with white liberals a lot. We see it in all industries when they hold conferences – tech only invites men (usually white), except to the one panel on women in tech, where they invite a woman, but she’s also usually white. The problem here, as Lorde elucidates, is that, for example, the patriarchy is part of the problem, and we can’t frame the solution to the problems of patriarchy using the same systems and criteria that the patriarchy set up. We need to acknowledge and inhabit our differences.

There are five other essays in here as well, and the one that I found affected me the most was Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism. Lorde looks at why anger is necessary, and why guilt is often ‘just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication.’ It made me think of the utter uselessness and dangerousness of white liberals who are so focused on their own white guilt that they can’t move forward in their own anti-racism work. Lorde makes the argument that anger is necessary and good and productive, and translates into action. In a world where the concept of the ‘Angry Black Woman’ is used as a way to discount the opinions shared by Black women whether angry or not, I found this to be an extremely important discussion.

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