Audre Lorde on Anger

“Everything can be used / except what is wasteful / (you will need / to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)*”

“Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives. I have seen situations where white women hear a racist remark, resent what has been said, become filled with fury, and remain silent because they are afraid. That unexpressed anger lies within them like an undetonated device, usually to be hurled at the first woman of Color who talks about racism. But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification, for it is in the painful process of this translation that we identify who are our allies with whom we have grave differences, and who are our genuine enemies.”

*From “For Each of You,” first published in From A Land Where Other People Live (Broadside Press, Detroit, 1973), and collected in Chosen Poems, Old and New (W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 1982), p. 42.

From “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” by Audre Lorde, in her book, Sister/Outsider (Crossing Press, 1984), p. 127.


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