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Thu, Mar. 27th, 2008, 04:52 pm

The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action (excerpt) by Audre Lorde

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.

I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger. Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words.

I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

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? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am lesbian, because I am myself — a Black woman warrior poet doing my work — come to ask you, are you doing yours?

And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger. But my daughter, when I told her of our topic and my difficulty with it, said, “Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.”

In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear — fear of contempt, of censure, of some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live.

And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength. Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us. In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.

For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it. For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us. But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone can we survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.

And it is never without fear — of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgment, of pain, of death. But we have lived through all of those already, in silence, except death. And I remind myself all the time now that if I were to have been born mute, or had maintained an oath of silence my whole life long for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die. It is very good for establishing perspective.

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. 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.

The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.

(Originally delivered at the Modern Language Association’s “Lesbian and Literature Panel,” Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977. First published in Sinister Wisdom 6 (1978) and The Cancer Journals (Spinsters, Ink, San Francisco, 1980)

Tue, Feb. 5th, 2008, 01:36 am

I can't even read titles like "Women In Islam: Damsels In Distress?" and be interested at all anymore. Been there, done that, someone more articulate and insightful wrote a better article/book already, so please, no more.

And for the love of God, if I see ONE more book about Muslim women with "veil" in the title, I'ma cut somebody.

Mon, Sep. 3rd, 2007, 10:46 pm

For the love of God, why the heck is Sayyid Qutb considered the end-all be-all authority on "Gender Roles in Islam"?!?!? Wikipedia sucks on any kind of Islam or Israel-Palestine related article.

Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007, 08:42 am

An excellent primer on reproductive justice: http://www.sistersong.net/documents/RJBriefingBook.pdf

Tue, Mar. 27th, 2007, 09:07 pm
gasp

http://www.jwj.org/news/updates/2007/03.html#india

Report Looks at Garment Manufacturing in India
United Students Against Sweatshops, Jobs with Justice, and Society for Labour and Development (in Delhi, India) collaborated on research of top six companies in Delhi who manufacture garments for primarily US brands and retails companies including big boxes like Wal-mart. This corporate study is a first of its kind, in India, to take a close look at top garment manufacturing companies that deal directly with US companies. The report can be accessed here.

I was reading this, and I was like, cool, Wal-Mart in India, I wanna read the report. Then I realized I WROTE the report. All 93 pages.

What now.

Mon, Aug. 22nd, 2005, 02:41 pm

Guess who is now a licensed driver?(!)

Also,

God: Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to make the world spin backwards briefly and reverse time so that you can prevent your finger from getting caught.
Joey Russo: I thought only Superman could do that.
God: He stole it from me. That's why I had him killed.

I miss Blossom.

Mon, Feb. 21st, 2005, 09:29 pm
"to live in hearts we leave behind is not to die"

EZIE - Michael C., Blue Cross Blue Shield official

2/21/2005 

A Mass of Christian Burial for Michael C. Ezie, a Blue Cross Blue Shield official and community leader, will be offered at 11 a.m. today in St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, 555 Northampton St. Burial will be Umuna, Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria.

Mr. Ezie died Wednesday in Buffalo General Hospital after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He was 50.

Born Paschal-Michael Chigozie Ezie in Nigeria, he completed Catholic elementary school and high school in Orlu before coming to the United States in 1971. He received a bachelor's degree in business education from Northern Kentucky University and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati.

Mr. Ezie began his career as a unit coordinator at Cincinnati General Hospital and later was an accountant and auditor at Coopers Lybrand in Cincinnati.

He returned to Nigeria in 1981 to join the National Youth Corps, fulfilling the mandatory civil service duty required of all Nigerian college graduates. He subsequently became general manager of his family's business.

In 1983, he married Dr. Leslie Ellen Clapp of Buffalo, whom he had met in Cincinnati while both were living there. He was fiscal director, comptroller and then chief executive officer of Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center before becoming corporate director of government programs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York.

In 1988, Mr. Ezie helped organize his wife's medical practice, which became Main Pediatrics.

He was a founding member and first president of the Nigeria Association of Buffalo, co-chairman of the New York State AIDS Delivery Consortia, co-chairman of the Health Systems Agency of Western New York Infant Mortality Task Force, past chairman of the Community Health Care Association of New York State's Finance Committee and vice chairman of the Grace Manor Nursing Home board of directors.

He was a member of the New York State Public Health Care Association, Health Care Reform Commission of Western New York, Buffalo Community Health Plan board, Leadership Buffalo Class of 1990, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, WBFO Radio Advisory Board and Assembly Speaker's Health Care Advisory Board.

Mr. Ezie received the Distinguished Service Award of the state Health Department's AIDS Institute, Black Achievers in Industry Award, Erie Community College Ebony and Ivory Award, National Medical Association Community Service Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority Health Service Award and Agape African Methodist Episcopal Church Outstanding Executive Management and Administration Award.

A devoted family man, he was proud of his daughters, Chinyere, a Yale University junior; Kelechi, a Princeton University freshman; and Chisara, president of her City Honors High School class, and his son, Chiemeka, a sixth-grader at City Honors School.

Surviving, besides his wife and children, are his mother, Patricia of St. Augustine, Fla., and Umuna, Nigeria; four sisters, Fidelia of Ashland, Ky., Justina Ogbuokiri of New Orleans, Imelda Nwoga of St. Augustine and Mary Jo Ekwem of Aba, Nigeria; and two brothers, Joseph of Abuja, Nigeria, and Patrick of Lagos, Nigeria.



The not-happening was so sudden
that I stayed there for ever,
without knowing, without their knowing me,
as if I were under a chair,
as if i were lost in the night -
so was that which was not,
and so have I stayed for ever.

I asked the others after,
what they were doing with such confidence
and how they had learned their living;
they did not actually answer,
they went on dancing and living.

It is what has not happened to one
that determines the silence,
and I don't want to go on speaking
because I stayed there waiting;
in that place and on that day
and now I am not the same. ~Pablo Neruda

Thu, Feb. 17th, 2005, 12:44 pm

Michael C. Ezie died Wednesday night at 10. He was the Director of Medicaid Managed Care at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Western New York. He was the loving husband of Dr. Leslie Clapp and the loving father of Chinyere, Kelechi, Chisara, and Chiemeka.

He was so much more than these words on the screen.

Tue, Sep. 14th, 2004, 11:35 pm

coca-cola sent me a letter assuring me that all its conduct in colombia has been extraordinarily union-friendly, and decrying slanderously false allegations that suggest otherwise.

how terribly politically correct of them.