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92 Best Audre Lorde Quotes To Inspire

Quote Graphic: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” — Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” was a powerful voice in the fight against the injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia. 

Her work, which spans poetry, essays, and speeches, offers a profound critique of the social and political systems that marginalize certain groups. Lorde’s writing is celebrated for its incisive exploration of identity, power, and the complexities of intersectionality in society.

Audre Lorde’s words often encapsulate her sharp intellect and unwavering commitment to fighting oppression in all its forms. And in this article, we’ve curated her most impactful quotes. 

Whether you are familiar with her work or encountering her ideas for the first time, Lorde’s quotes will challenge, inspire, and provoke thought, continuing her legacy of advocating for change and understanding.

The Best Quotes from Audre Lorde

Famous Quotes

“If you can’t change reality, change your perceptions of it.”
— Audre Lorde

“If you can’t change reality, change your perceptions of it.” — Audre Lorde

“Revolution is not a one-time event.”
— Audre Lorde

“Revolution is not a one-time event.” — Audre Lorde

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
— Audre Lorde

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” — Audre Lorde

“Our future survival is predicated upon our ability to relate within equality.”
— Audre Lorde

“Our future survival is predicated upon our ability to relate within equality.” — Audre Lorde

“You are the one that you are looking for.”
— Audre Lorde

“You are the one that you are looking for.” — Audre Lorde

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

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

“Your silence will not protect you.”
— Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action

“Your silence will not protect you.” — Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action‍

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

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

“You become strong by doing the things you need to be strong for.”
— Audre Lorde

“You become strong by doing the things you need to be strong for.” — Audre Lorde

“In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.”
— Audre Lorde

“In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.” — Audre Lorde

“Within the war we are all waging with the forces of death, subtle and otherwise, conscious or not — I am not only a casualty, I am also a warrior.”
— Audre Lorde

“Within the war we are all waging with the forces of death, subtle and otherwise, conscious or not — I am not only a casualty, I am also a warrior.” — Audre Lorde

“I am standing here as a Black lesbian poet, and the meaning of all that waits upon the fact that I am still alive, and might not have been.”
— Audre Lorde

“I am standing here as a Black lesbian poet, and the meaning of all that waits upon the fact that I am still alive, and might not have been.” — Audre Lorde

“We are all more blind to what we have than to what we have not.”
— Audre Lorde

“We are all more blind to what we have than to what we have not.” — Audre Lorde

“Anger is an appropriate reaction to racist attitudes, as is fury when the actions arising from those attitudes do not change.”
— Audre Lorde

“Anger is an appropriate reaction to racist attitudes, as is fury when the actions arising from those attitudes do not change.” — Audre Lorde

“Women are powerful and dangerous.”
— Audre Lorde

“Women are powerful and dangerous.” — Audre Lorde

“When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
— Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language & Action

“When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language & Action

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”
— Audre Lorde

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” — Audre Lorde

On Power

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
— Audre Lorde

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde

“There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise.”
— Audre Lorde

“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.”
— Audre Lorde

“Whatever power we have that we don’t use will become an instrument against us, the question of differences is a perfect example. If we do not learn to use our differences constructively they will continue to be used against as causes for war. We must turn this around, not by eliminating difference or pretending it doesn’t exist, but examining how it may be used and recognized.”
— Audre Lorde

“Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.”
— Audre Lorde

“The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”
— Audre Lorde

“The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.” — Audre Lorde

On Feminism and Activism

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”
— Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn: Poems

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” — Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn: Poems

“For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered.”
— Audre Lorde

“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.”
— Audre Lorde

“Unacknowledged class differences rob women of each others’ energy and creative insight.”
— Audre Lorde

“Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”
— Audre Lorde

“I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.”
— Audre Lorde

“I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.” — Audre Lorde

“Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs upon the reasons they’re dying.”
— Audre Lorde

“How much of this truth can I bear to see and still live unblinded? How much of this pain can I use?”
— Audre Lorde

“For within living structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, our feelings were expected to kneel to thought as women were expected to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets.”
— Audre Lorde

“If I cannot air this pain and alter it, I will surely die of it. That’s the beginning of social protest.”
— Audre Lorde

“If I cannot air this pain and alter it, I will surely die of it. That’s the beginning of social protest.” — Audre Lorde

“As Black women we have the right and responsibility to define ourselves and to seek our allies in common cause: with Black men against racism, and with each other and white women against sexism. But most of all, as Black women we have the right and responsibility to recognize each other without fear and to love where we choose.”
— Audre Lorde

“Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns. Now we hear that is the task of women of Color to educate white women — in the face of tremendous resistance — as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought.”
— Audre Lorde

“Black women are programmed to define ourselves within this male attention and to compete with each other for it rather than to recognize and move upon our common interests.”
— Audre Lorde

“The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us, and which knows only the oppressors’ tactics, the oppressors’ relationships.”
— Audre Lorde

“As white women ignore their built-in privilege of whiteness and define woman in terms of their own experience alone, then women of Color become ‘other,’ the outsider whose experience and tradition is too ‘alien’ to comprehend.”
— Audre Lorde

“Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference — those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older — know that survival is not an academic skill… For the master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house. They will never allow us to bring about genuine change.”
— Audre Lorde

“However, experience has taught us that action in the now is also necessary, always.”
— Audre Lorde

“However, experience has taught us that action in the now is also necessary, always.” — Audre Lorde

→ Read more quotes about feminism

→ Read more quotes about activism

On Self Care

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

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

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
— Audre Lorde

“I am still learning — how to take joy in all the people I am, how to use all my selves in the service of what I believe, how to accept when I fail and rejoice when I succeed.”
— Audre Lorde

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? 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?”
— Audre Lorde

“My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restriction of externally imposed definition.”
— Audre Lorde

“Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.”
— Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

“You cannot use someone else’s fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.”
— Audre Lorde

“We know what it is to be lied to, and we know how important it is not lie to ourselves. We are powerful because we have survived, and that is what it all about — survival and growth.”
— Audre Lorde

“We know what it is to be lied to, and we know how important it is not lie to ourselves. We are powerful because we have survived, and that is what it all about — survival and growth.” — Audre Lorde

→ Read more quotes about self-care

On Community

“Without community there is no liberation.”
— Audre Lorde

“Without community there is no liberation.” — Audre Lorde

“When a people share a common oppression, certain kinds of skills and joint defenses are developed. And if you survive you survive, because those skills and defenses have worked. When you come into conflict over other existing differences, there is a vulnerability to each other which is desperate and very deep.”
— Audre Lorde

“What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities. And in order for us to do this, we must allow each other our differences at the same time as we recognize our sameness.”
— Audre Lorde

“When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I’m not excluding you from the joining — I’m broadening the joining.”
— Audre Lorde

“You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same.”
— Audre Lorde

“You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same.” — Audre Lorde

“Too often, we pour the energy needed for recognizing and exploring difference into pretending those differences are insurmountable barriers, or that they do not exist at all.”
— Audre Lorde

“We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.”
— Audre Lorde

“The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.”
— Audre Lorde

 “We share a common interest, survival, and it cannot be pursued in isolation from others simply because their differences make us uncomfortable.”
— Audre Lorde 

 “We share a common interest, survival, and it cannot be pursued in isolation from others simply because their differences make us uncomfortable.” — Audre Lorde 

On Love

“Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever.”
— Audre Lorde 

“Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever.” — Audre Lorde 

“I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do.”
— Audre Lorde 

“The speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
— Audre Lorde 

“The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.”
— Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

“‎Once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, can feel joy, then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy.”
— Audre Lorde 

“‎Once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, can feel joy, then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy.” — Audre Lorde 

On Identity

“Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.”
— Audre Lorde 

“Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.” — Audre Lorde 

“Well, I do not want to be tolerated, nor misnamed. I want to be recognized.”
— Audre Lorde 

“My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds.”
— Audre Lorde 

“African tradition deals with life as an experience to be lived. In many respects, it is much like the Eastern philosophies in that we see ourselves as a part of a life force; we are joined, for instance, to the air, to the earth. We are part of the whole life process. We live in accordance with, in a kind of correspondence with the rest of the world as a whole. And therefore living becomes an experience, rather than a problem, no matter how bad or how painful it may be.”
— Audre Lorde 

“I learned that if I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
— Audre Lorde 

“I learned that if I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” — Audre Lorde 

Short Quotes

“Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.”
— Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action

“Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” — Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action‍

“We need a movement [that] encourages you and me to define ourselves.”
— Audre Lorde 

“Anger, used, does not destroy. Hatred does.”
— Audre Lorde

“I write because I am a warrior and my poetry is my primary weapon.”
— Audre Lorde 

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”
— Audre Lorde, The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

“Unity implies the coming together of elements which are, to begin with, varied and diverse in their particular natures.”
— Audre Lorde

“We are all in the process of becoming.”
— Audre Lorde 

“Our visions begin with our desires.”
— Audre Lorde 

 “There are no new ideas, just new ways of giving those ideas we cherish breath and power in our own living.”
— Audre Lorde 

“Oppressed peoples are always being asked to stretch a little more, to bridge the gap between blindness and humanity.”
— Audre Lorde

“Oppressed peoples are always being asked to stretch a little more, to bridge the gap between blindness and humanity.” — Audre Lorde

→ Read more short quotes

More Audre Lorde Quotes

“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.”
— Audre Lorde

“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.” — Audre Lorde

“To face the realities of our lives is not a reason for despair — despair is a tool of your enemies. Facing the realities of our lives gives us motivation for action. For you are not powerless… You know why the hard questions must be asked. It is not altruism, it is self-preservation — survival.”
— Audre Lorde

“Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.”
— Audre Lorde

“Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.” — Audre Lorde

“For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.”
— Audre Lorde

“Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it… pain will always either change or stop. Always. The confidence that it will change is what makes bearing it possible. So pain is fluid. It is only when you conceive of it as something static that it is unbearable.”
— Audre Lorde

“The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us — the poet — whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free.”
— Audre Lorde

“Within each one of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust.”
— Audre Lorde

“When you reach out and touch other human beings, it doesn’t matter whether you call it therapy or teaching or poetry.”
— Audre Lorde

“When you reach out and touch other human beings, it doesn’t matter whether you call it therapy or teaching or poetry.” — Audre Lorde

“Anger is useful to help clarify our differences, but in the long run, strength that is bred by anger alone is a blind force which cannot create the future. It can only demolish the past. Such strength does not focus upon what lies ahead, but upon what lies behind, upon what created it — hatred. And hatred is a death wish for the hated, not a life wish for anything else.”
— Audre Lorde

“The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression as women.”
— Audre Lorde

“I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk through the rain.”
— Audre Lorde

“On the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of their own fear — fear of contempt, of censure, or some judgement, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live.”
— Audre Lorde

“Our persistence in examining the tensions within diversity encourages growth toward our common goal. So often we either ignore the past or romanticize it, rendering the reason for unity useless or mythic. We forget that the necessary ingredient needed to make the past work for the future is our energy in the present, metabolizing one into the other. Continuity does not happen automatically, nor is it a passive process.”
— Audre Lorde

“Hatred is the fury of those who do not share our goals, and its object is death and destruction. Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change.”
— Audre Lorde

“Among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children there can be no hierarchies of oppression.”
— Audre Lorde

“Among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children there can be no hierarchies of oppression.” ‍— Audre Lorde

Article Details

January 22, 2024 5:23 PM
Graphic Quote: Because you are alive, everything is possible. — Thich Nhat Hanh

59 Most Iconic Quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh

Born in Vietnam in 1926, his lifelong efforts to promote peace and reconciliation during and after the Vietnam War earned him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.
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