Poetry News

Audre Lorde's 1985 Call-to-Action

By Harriet Staff
Audre Lorde

Literary Hub presents an excerpt from a new book of Audre Lorde's essays called A Burst of Light and Other Essays, published recently by Ixia Press. In this excerpt, Lorde speaks about power, apartheid, and police brutality. "I am filled with a sense of urgency and dread: dread at the apparently random waves of assaults against people and institutions closest to me; urgency to unearth the connections between these assaults" she writes. From there: 

Those connections lurk beneath the newspaper reports of teargassed funeral processions in Tembisa and the charred remains of Baldwin Hills, California, a flourishing Black neighborhood leveled by arson.

I sit before the typewriter for days and nothing comes. It feels as if underlining these assaults, lining them up one after the other and looking at them squarely might give them an unbearable power. Yet I know exactly the opposite is true—no matter how difficult it may be to look at the realities of our lives, it is there that we will find the strength to change them. And to suppress any truth is to give it power beyond endurance.

As I write these words I am listening to the United Nations Special Session considering the “state of emergency” in South Africa, their euphemism for the suspension of human rights for Blacks, which is the response of the Pretoria regime to the increasingly spontaneous eruptions in Black townships across that country. These outbursts against apartheid have greatly increased in the last 11 months since a new South African constitution further solidified the exclusion of the 22 million Black majority from the South African political process. These outbreaks, however severely curtailed by the South African police and military, are beginning to accomplish what Oliver Tambo, head of the African National Congress, hoped for in his call to make South Africa under apartheid “ungovernable.”

Read on at Literary Hub.

Originally Published: September 13th, 2017