Monday, September 16, 2019

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Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

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Before “intersectional feminism” entered the mainstream, Lorde embodied its ideals. A self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Lorde centered her writing and activism on dismantling racist, homophobic and sexist structures, and recognized those battles as fights that were part and parcel of each other.

In fact, her famous line about using the “master’s tools” to dismantle the master’s house was directed toward the feminist movement, and it’s worth remembering the quote in full:

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.

Lorde added, “What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy?”

 

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Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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