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Audre Lorde is a mother, activist, teacher, feminist, lesbian, socialist and poet. The Ideas of Lorde led to the development of canonical works that compose the feminist theory. The speeches and quotes from Sister Outsider have been used as pieces to shape the ideas in the feminist theory. Generally, she uses the article to criticize social instability caused by the US government. These vices she criticized include racism, sexism and classism. Her insights of these social issues are highlighted in the article. This paper analyses the ideas of racism and sexism as it appears in Audre Lorde’s article, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. It has also taken a keen look into other works and quotes of Audre, which still tackle the issues of racism and sexism.
Racism and Sexism in Lorde’s Articles and Speeches
Lorde’s articles and speeches mainly address racism and sexism among so many other social issues that cause the imbalance in society. In her speeches that are in the article Sister Outside, she describes social difference as the instrument to cause social change. She offers messages of hope to people on the receiving end of discriminative polices in the United States society in the 20th century. In Sister Outsider, she encourages people to never give up on fighting for their equal consideration in the American society.
The greatest part of the content of Sister Outsider shows the struggle of lesbians, blacks, feminist and women who fight against sexism. The idea that women are an inferior sex gets dismissed entirely in her works. She serves to inspire members of society to break the social barrier of sexual bias. She appeals to members of society to have enormous respect for women and not to discriminate them in various fields of society. These fields include education, military and other white collar jobs. The discrimination of black women, as it appears in her article, was severe in the United States during her time. She profoundly criticizes this social vice and calls for hope of a balanced society of the United States (Lorde 40).
The writing of Lorde’s appears intensely personal. In this article, she productively combined the feminist theory with everyday experiences of those times that caused the racial discrimination and spread in the ideas of sexism. These activities of discrimination and sexism affect people’s lives to a great extent. The personal experience she uses presents a wider sociological analysis of the social issues in questionwhich are represented by sexism and racial discrimination.
In an open letter to Mary Daly, she sincerely addresses the racist feature that she had found in her work. She challenges the idea that difference is divisive. She encourages unity, since unity causes social change and enhances balancing into the society. Lorde appeals to people to make them acknowledge the differences into which their racist experiences differ from person to person. Instead, she urges people to use these differences as the common denominator, since they have the same uniting interests. In terms of her works and speeches, she has played a vital role in sensitizing people to fight the racial discrimination in the United States during her time (Friedenfels 350).
In the last essay, Lorde wisely addresses the way the onus of education is put on members of weaker social groups. She argues that this is a detrimental societal phenomenon, since it serves as a factor to disunite members of society. She also establishes the fact that it is the responsibility of the oppressed females to make their oppressors learn their mistakes. This would have a better impact on making a peaceful society. She places a responsibility on people facing oppression from their oppressors. For example, it appears that women should educate men, black and third world people should educate the other white people to make them understand their humanity and accord them human dignity. Lesbians and gay people should be educated in order to educate other people of the heterosexual world.
According to the author, Sister Outsider is a person who exists as a part of the community, but she is separated from it at the same time. This person gets separated from the community by barriers that exist in the community. These barriers may include racial segregation, unfair treatment on the basis of one's sex, and the plight of black people. Lorde’s writing inspires people to break down the barriers that exist to establish lasting bonds within the community. According to Lorde, these barriers cannot be broken on silence. She is highly active in shaping a specific type of reaction to these forms of societal exploitations. Her articles and speeches have made a substantial part of the feminist theory, because she serves to strengthen the female sex and to sensitize people against the discrimination of black women in society (Guy-Sheftall 111).
In the essay “Uses of Erotic: The Erotic as Power”, Lorde encourages members of society to reclaim the institutions that cause social exploitation. She also insists that discrimination against women in society should end. She uses a convincing and passionate mood to appeal to readers, while emphasizing the significance of fighting the ideas of sexism within society. Therefore, her work serves to strengthen numerous women in the American society. In “Man Child”, Lorde reminds women that boys they raise will not grow to be women. This is a capital idea in terms of the formation of the feminist theory. Lorde says that she cannot hide her anger to spare her guilt. She argues that guilt is not a response to anger, but a response to a person’s action or failure to act. According to her, failure to fight against female discrimination in the American society was a source of guilt. Furthermore, people who oppress women and possess fanatic sexist ideas are also equally guilty, since it is immoral to think that a person’s sex makes them inferior by any chance. In response to sexism and racism, she acknowledges different emotional reactions that people have. This is the basis of her work. In fact, it is probably one of the most significant aspects of change of the perception of feminism in society that she discusses in her work.
In the “Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism”, Lorde explains the complex reactions of women that result from them being discriminated. It specifically mentions the anger of black women. In fact, this essay was presented to the National Women’s conference in 1981 in the United States to address women who had a problem with the anger of black women. As it appears in this article, anger is a functionally necessary form of reaction to racism. This is because it triggers people to react to the racial discrimination in vigilante ways. She clearly defines the line between anger and guilt in this essay. The examples of racist exercises she gives in this essay include the racial discrimination experiences that the nonchalant white women face in society. Since she is black, it is right to say that she struggles to be a partisan through her work. She spreads the messages of hope and calls for unity among everyone to cause a social change. What is most powerful must be shared (Lorde 40). Lorde stipulates in her book that the most valuable thing should be shared in the society, so that they get well understood. She argues that the controversial issues in the feminist society, such as sexism, are at the risk of getting misunderstood, if they do not get shared. She uses this idea to form the opening words of the essay “The Transforming of Silence into Language and Action”. Her book offers people to unite themselves and fight against racism and sexism. Also, in these essays, Lorde presents a powerful critique of the whites. This is because the western Academies are extremely keen on what to teach in their education system. This book serves as a catalyst of change among the social movements within the United States.
In the essay “Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface”, she discusses black males who have a lot of anger towards black females. She makes a confrontational tone in the essay, because it is a reaction to the article by Robert Staple. Thus, she protects the interests of black feminists in this essay. On the other hand, the essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master House”, is a speech in Lorde’s book, which insists that new tools should be created to fight oppression in society. In this article, she openly confesses that she feels that the feminist theory is incomplete, since all women do not face the same problems. Therefore, women should have possibly different solutions to their societal concerns. The negative effects of sexism and racism are broad, and women suffer differently because of these effects. Therefore, it is necessary to offer diverse solutions. Lorde shows the problem of the institutional dehumanization which grows in the American society at her time as a result of rampant racism. According to her, the American society values profit even more than human dignity; that is the reason they can keep oppressing females in order to make profits out of their labor (Lorde 5). The oppression of black females by the rich people was so evident during her time. As a result, she writes to appeal to all people in order to address the problems related to sexism, racism and feminism. She clearly shows that the white’s society, which is also patriarch, discourages the societal traits that do not fall under its norms and values. These results in the alienation of people who do not wish to conform. Therefore, the result is the racial discrimination and feminism.
From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly vivid and clear that the theme of racism and sexism has been articulated evenly in Audrey Lorde’s Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. The plight of feminists in the United States has been analyzed to a satisfactory extent. In addition, Lorde has made attempts to show her struggles in terms of fighting racism against black women and the negative sexist ideas in the United States during her time. The most powerful issue in the work of Lorde is her recommendations to counter the social controversies that have been shown in this research paper. Lorde was highly instrumental in shaping the future of the female population in the United States. In fact, today’s equality has been achieved in the United States, and females are no longer discriminated. Therefore, Lorde’s book is a prominent land mark of the society of the United States. The racial liberty and equality enjoyed today is a proponent of Lorde.