When we look at the world around us, we see that we need to keep stepping forward, showing up. We do this for ourselves and for others; and that the two go hand in hand.
Today I want to share some words from Audre Lorde’s essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”
Lorde was a black feminist poet, essayist, and activist, and she’s one of my heroes. She wrote this essay after a false cancer scare; confronted with her own morality, she came more fully into herself and into her voice.
In this essay Lorde claims her position, her self, in language, which she is able to do in part, she says, because of the community of women who have supported her. And she calls on her readers to do the same: to claim their full complex identity and to transform their silences into action for a more kind, just, courageous world and for a more whole self.
Though Lorde wrote this essay in 1977, it could have been written yesterday.
“In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality…what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end.
Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words.
And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.
I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you….
What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?
Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am woman, because I am Black, because I am lesbian, because I am myself – a Black woman warrior poet doing my work – come to ask you, are you doing yours?”
What is your work to do?
And how can we call upon one another to help us do our work and transform our silences into language and action, into self acceptance and self love so that we may love one another better?
I encourage you to take some time to listen to whatever your voice is calling you to. Perhaps you need just a bit of time to reflect on the blue sky, perhaps you want to write about a time in your childhood. Perhaps you want to write a letter of indignation or a love letter. Do what is calling you!
As always, reach out to me with any thoughts or questions.