7 Audre Lorde Quotes for Empowerment and Activism

Powerful Words: The Most Impactful Quotes from Audre Lorde

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Photo: Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Photo: Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Audre Lorde’s words are often a reflection of her fearless advocacy for intersectionality and equality. From the pages of her books to the speeches she delivered, Audre’s quotes continue to inspire and mobilize readers to confront societal injustices. Here are some of her most impactful quotes.

“Revolution is not a one-time event.”

Photo: Jackson State University via Getty Images
Photo: Jackson State University via Getty Images

In “Sister Outsider,” Audre reminds us that the fight for social justice is ongoing, requiring constant effort and vigilance. This quote encompasses her belief in sustained activism and the continuous pursuit of equality. It serves as a powerful call to action, urging individuals to remain committed to the long-term struggle for a more just world.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

In her work “A Burst of Light,” Audre redefined the concept of self-care, framing it as an essential act of resistance for those facing systemic oppression. She advocated for the necessity of self-care to ensure one’s ability to continue fighting for justice. This quote has become a cornerstone of mental health and self-care discussions, particularly within activist communities.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

In her 1984 speech at the Second Sex Conference in New York, Lorde articulated this poignant critique of using existing power structures to achieve true change. She argued that meaningful progress requires new approaches and perspectives, particularly those of underserved populations. This quote underscores the necessity of radical thinking, rather than relying on the systems that uphold inequality.

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Photo: Jackson State University via Getty Images
Photo: Jackson State University via Getty Images

Audre’s unwavering commitment to intersectionality is captured in this quote from her essay “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism.” She highlighted the connected nature of oppression and the importance of solidarity among marginalized groups. The author’s words serve as a reminder that the fight for justice must be inclusive, recognizing the diverse experiences and struggles of women everywhere.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

This quote – from Audre’s “Sister Outsider” – highlights the destructive impact of intolerance. She urged people to move beyond fear and prejudice to build inclusive communities that celebrate differences. This message remains profoundly relevant in today’s world, where divisiveness and exclusion continue to pose significant challenges.

“Your silence will not protect you.”

One of Audre’s most famous quotes – from her essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” – encapsulates her belief in the power of speaking out against oppression. The Harlem writer urged marginalized individuals to break their silence, emphasizing that voicing their truths was a critical step toward liberation. This quote has become a rallying cry for activists worldwide, reminding them that silence in the face of injustice further perpetuates harm.

Audre Lorde stands as one of the most iconic literary voices in history. Her voice and wisdom continue to inspire Black and queer folx long after her passing because of how powerful and true her message still is. Use these quotes as a springboard into her work — you won’t regret it.

What’s your favorite Audre Lorde quote? Tell us in the comments!

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