Rad Reading: "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action"

Image via Bust.

Image via Bust.

by Abaki Beck

Text: The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action

Author: Audre Lorde

Quote to Highlight: “Where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives…there are so many silences to be broken.”

Quick Summary: In this essay, Lorde argues that we must share and speak about what we believe in, even if we are afraid to. She wrote this essay while reflecting upon her mortality (after being diagnosed with cancer), and questioning why she feared speaking out. By speaking up, we are able to connect with others who have a similar vision for the world, and work with them, despite differences we may have. She writes that when we remain silent on our truths and yearnings for justice, we still live in fear and these silences only damage us. Speaking out also creates visibility for our stories, lives, and experiences - without other seeing who we truly are, how do we exist? She argues that though we may fear pain, visibility, and judgement by speaking out, we suffer those as well by remaining silent. In addition to speaking out ourselves, she argues that we must support and uplift the voices of marginalized peoples, and seek connection within these stories.

The concept of silence and a fear of silence is similarly discussed in her classic poem “a litany for survival.

File it under: Women of color feminisms, writing, breaking silences, self love

Type of text: Academic yet poetic essay

Read it HERE

POC Online Classroom celebrates the intellectual tradition and knowledge production of marginalized communities. Rad Reading is a series that highlights texts to read, writers to support, and ideas to discuss. We post every Tuesday!