Sister Outsider: Essays And Speeches by Audre Lorde

Sister Outsider was written by poet, feminist and civil rights activist, Audre Lorde. This anthology was originally published in 1984 but several later editions have since been released, including the 2019 Penguin Books edition as pictured below. I listened to the audiobook which was published by Penguin Audio and narrated by Pippa Bennet-Warner. It has a running time of 6 hours 58 minutes.

Lorde’s collection of essays and interviews are timeless, revolutionary and fiercely inspirational. It felt very personal as we read about recollections of her travels and her heritage, a first generation American and daughter of Grenadian immigrants. I felt an especial affinity towards this book. Not only am I also a daughter of Grenadian immigrants, but I could empathise with Lorde’s discussion about the apathy that characterises black female relationships. In the chapter Scratching The Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women And Loving, Lorde forthrightly explains the societal structures that foster an attitude of distrust between black woman and contrasts it to traditional African cultures where it is customary for black women to bond together in mutual support.

“As women, we must root out internalized patterns of oppression within ourselves if we are to move beyond the most superficial aspects of social change.”

pg. 115, Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.

This book is a manifestation of Lorde’s refusal to stay silent on the matter of patriarchal dominance and misogynoir. She infuses a large portion of herself in each essay and draws upon her own circumstances as a black lesbian mother, cancer-survivor and ‘warrior poet’ to solidify her arguments. I would strongly urge anyone who considers themselves a feminist to read this book. It is a stark reminder of the social and political challenges black women still face, especially those who identify as queer. Sister Outsider represents the very best of feminist literature.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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