Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Silence

I was driving to work yesterday and happened to be behind a car with a bumper sticker that caught my attention. It said:
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Your Silence Will Not Protect You
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There was a name underneath but I could not make it out. The poor driver probably thought I was being an incredibly rude tail-gater but I really wanted to see the author's name. I never did make it out.
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I came to work and I typed the phrase into my web browser. What a goldmine! I have never before heard of Audre Lorde but she has an incredible repertoire of quotes, poems and books. She is a self described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." What a brave and amazing woman. Born in 1934, she was nearsighted to the point of legal blindness. A black lesbian in the 50's yet she attended college, earning her Masters degree and spoke openly for gay rights, feminism, politically active for anti-war and civil rights. How have I never heard of this remarkable woman?
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While these may be taken out of context, I still found many of her quotes resonating with me, as a survivor who is still struggling to find the "real me", the point of all I experienced, my voice and a life free of my fears and inhibitions.
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"I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't.
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I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I'll be sending messages on a Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.
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Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me, where I loved some invaluable piece of myself apart from me--so different that I had to stretch and grow in order to recognize her. And in that growing, we came to separation, that place where work begins.
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If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.
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We are powerful because we have survived.
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The energies I gain from my work help me neutralize those implanted forces of negativity and self-destructiveness that is White America's way of making sure I keep whatever is powerful and creative within me unavailable, ineffective, and non-threatening.
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I have come to believe, over and over again, that what is important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.
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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.
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Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge”
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Her words are so empowering to me. I think the timing was more than coincidence. Right place, right time. I've been kicking around some thoughts, some realizations, about this cyclical pattern I've created where drama begets drama and I can't.....no, make that I *won't* get out of my own way. It's a way for me to rationalize staying "stuck" and not having to deal with change. But this quote, I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I'll be sending messages on a Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side, reminds me that I cannot allow my fear to stop me from pursuing more. It reminds me that I have a life to live here and I need to sieze it. Quit hiding from it.

3 comments:

beauty said...

What great quotes! Thanks for sharing them...I may have to steal a couple for my blog.

I like it when women speak out, not alone for themselves but also for those who have no voice.

Enola said...

What a treasure trove of quotes. I love the last one too about the Ouija board. It made me laugh.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Wow! Cool! This is such an educational and inspiring post. Thank you so much for sharing it and for letting us use it for The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.