“..But when you say “relief,” there is no relief from racism. At the Modern Languages Association meeting in December there was a workshop on my work. A brilliant woman kept referring to my work as [Adrienne] Rich’s. Another woman talked about my work from This Bridge
and then talked of how happy she was to see the writing of Third World lesbian feminists in This Bridge
. One of the reasons she was so happy was because it, quote, “softened the blackness.” She said this in a room of 250 people, most of whom were women. I was sitting there thinking: “no, she can’t be saying this. I must be hallucinating.” But I wasn’t. What she was saying was that she’d always really been frightened by black anger, black women’s anger, and now she could think of racism not having to deal with blackness; she could think of racism as dealing with Chicana women, Latina women, right? “Soften the BLACKNESS’.” Now, do you want to talk about racism in the women’s movement?”
Audre Lorde (1982) ‘Audre Lorde: Lit From Within’ interviewed by Fran Moira and Lorraine Sorrel, Off Our Backs: A Women’s Newsjournal, p. 3. (via james-bliss)
Did Anzaldúa or Moraga ever comment on this? I really need to read This Bridge We Call Home and compare it to This Bridge Called My Back. I’m curious to see who did and did not contribute to Bridge We Call Home…
So as a white feminist, I feel the need to remind everyone: intersectionality is key to any progressive movement. It is the only way meaningful progress is possible. That means, inevitably, you are going to have to confront some kind of privilege that you have. If you’re a white feminist, like me, you have a massive one: white privilege.
And that in turn means that you are going to have to own up to shit and read some shit and acknowledge the existence of some shit that is really going to make you uncomfortable. It’ll make you uncomfortable because there is a power structure in place that prioritizes your race over everyone else’s and teaches you that anything involving racial equality is unnecessary, and everything involving racism is untrue or overblown. When you open your eyes to racism, your privilege is going to smack you in the face and make you so uncomfortable that you want to close the door entirely and focus back on whatever you were doing before.
And I say this out of love: get the fuck over it. People of color don’t have the option to close that door and back away. Discussions of race are not about your comfort, and the sooner we stop putting our comfort ahead of even the basic needs of non-white women, the sooner we can start making some real progress.
Ugh, I just lost a long-winded post. Someone up there is telling me something.
It’s been at least eight years since I read Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, but I remember a specific episode from that book that troubled me as the above anecdote troubled Audre Lorde. Specifically, the narrator leaves the United States and heads to Mexico, where she feels a kind of peace and acceptance that furthers her journey of self-acceptance. But I remember feeling disturbed by how Cuernavaca was described: with a near-utopian giddiness that bordered on othering. No sense of the history, the culture, or the identity of Mexico—it was a kind of paradisiacal garden of personal discovery for the narrator.
I don’t know if I’m remembering it correctly. I don’t know if I would react to it in the same way now.
But I don’t think Lorde would mind anyone holding it up for closer scrutiny, either; it’s a good example of her argument. There is very little to stop anyone from using entire groups of convenient people as fodder in their own personal dramas, except education, compassion, and a willingness to say, “I was wrong.”
These responses are both ENORMOUSLY fucked up. Like, RIDICULOUSLY fucked up.
“It’s been at least eight years since I read Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, but I remember a specific episode from that book that troubled me as the above anecdote troubled Audre Lorde.” These are not equal things that are happening here. What happened to Audre Lorde was that her peers (the woman who said it and the people who let her continue unchecked) SAID SHE AND HER BLACKNESS SHOULD NOT EXIST. This is not ‘othering’ which you haven’t even made a real argument for or shown evidence of in the first place.
And stfusexists, take your white opinions elsewhere cuz you wrong. Your long-ass response DERAILS and DE-BLACKS the conversation and is otherwise completely irrelevant. Next time you have the urge to say, “As a white feminist” please follow it by saying to yourself, “I should shut the fuck up.”