Audre Lorde had no equal, and I’m again disappointed that I never had to read her for any of my literary theory classes in college. She’s a talented writer and a brilliant thinker, well ahead of her time, and reading Sister Outsider was thought-provoking and a bit humbling (for she wrote about things we’re STILL dealing with today–we have so much work to do left).
Because this is a collection, Lorde compiles these speeches and essays from a variety of experiences and occasions. Therefore, the quality varies somewhat. That said, while I usually give a compilation a 4 stars, the strongest essays in this collection so greatly outweighed the weaker pieces that I felt it deserved a 5-star review. She writes about being a woman, mother, lesbian, Black, scholar, and intellectual in an America that is too often hostile to all of these components, especially when put together. One of her best known essays is “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” and it’s easy to see why. She makes an impassioned plea against aligning with patriarchy, and as we’ve seen, you cannot use patriarchy to achieve your ends without getting subsumed by it.
Lorde’s work is still incredibly prescient and should be required reading for budding scholars. She’s a lyrical writer, but she makes a sharp and poignant case for equity and promoting Black women in intellectual discourse.