I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde

By Audre Lorde; Rudolph P. Byrd et al. | Go to book overview

18
THE FIRST BLACK FEMINIST RETREAT
July 6, 1977

Important work is being done here, and I urge each of us as Black Feminists not to limit our examinations, our plans, our dreams, merely to reactive remedies. By this I mean that at the same time as we organize behind specific and urgent issues, we must also develop and maintain an ongoing vision, and the theory following upon that vision, of why we struggle—of the shape and taste and philosophy of what we wish to see.

If we restrict ourselves only to the use of those dominant power games which we have been taught to fear, but which we still respect because they have worked within an antihuman context, then we risk defining our work simply as shifting our own roles within the same oppressive power relationships, rather than as seeking to alter and redefine the nature of those relationships. This will result only in the eventual rise of yet another oppressed group, this time with us as overseer. But our unique position within this system is to constantly question its most cherished assumption and to radically change it, not merely to coopt it and make it work for us.

It is true that we must use what we can to move through our days, to deal pragmatically with the fact that all around us, our sisters and our children are dying, unspoken. But while we organize around the specific issues of abortion, of sterilization, of health care, we must give some of our energies also consistently to defining the shape of the future toward which we are working, as well as to a constant examination of the nature of the people we wish ourselves to be. For this is the background vision against which all issues must be seen. In what way can we cease

-205-

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