55 Inspiring Audre Lorde Quotes

audre lorde quote

Audre Lorde was a powerful woman who used her writing to advocate for women’s rights, racial equality, and LGBT+ rights. Her intersectionality meant she faced hardship, but it also gave her immense strength, which is reflected in these Audre Lorde quotes.

Lorde understood that nothing would change if people didn’t stand up and speak out, so she led by example as well as encouraging others to make their voices heard and their actions seen. Her writing is not only beautiful but inspiring!

Read on to see some of Audre Lorde’s quotes and empowering ideas.

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1. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Audre Lorde

Do not be afraid to be bold.

2. “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Audre Lorde

Everyone’s experience is different, but everyone deserves the same rights.

3. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde

Treat yourself well even if others say that you shouldn’t.

4. “Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.” Audre Lorde

Ignoring pain does you no good. 

5. “You cannot, you cannot use someone else's fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.” Audre Lorde

We all have embers inside of us, it’s just a matter of stoking the flames.

6. “...and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.” Audre Lorde

Tell your story, even when it’s scary to do so.

7. “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” Audre Lorde

Feelings evoke understanding, and understanding evokes feelings.

8. “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.” Audre Lorde

If you say nothing, your words don’t even have the chance to be understood, to impact others.

9. “Some women wait for themselves around the next corner and call the empty spot peace but the opposite of living is only not living and the stars do not care.” Audre Lorde

Do not waste your life waiting, take action!

10. “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Audre Lorde

Define yourself and tell the world.

11. “The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” Audre Lorde

Bold action is taken when people are ignored and oppressed.

12. “I am my best work a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.” Audre Lorde

You are your own masterpiece.

13. “Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people.” Audre Lorde

Change the institution, vote, advocate for yourself and others.

14. “Revolution is not a one-time event.” Audre Lorde

Long-lasting change is a long-lasting process. 

15. “Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.” Audre Lorde

Accept yourself wholly and then no one can shame you for who you are.

16. “Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde

Silence only leaves you vulnerable to being swept up by the system. 

17. “The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The black goddess within each of us the poet whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free.” Audre Lorde

Let your feelings set you free.

18. “It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures, in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish.” Audre Lorde

Those who were once ostracized are often remembered as heroes. 

19. “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.” Audre Lorde

If you allow fear to control you, you will remain in fear.

20. “We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.” Audre Lorde

We do not need to fully understand everything or everyone, but we do need to respect them and not squander them.

21. “I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I'll be sending messages on a Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.” Audre Lorde

Do not wait until you’re dead to speak your mind, that’s a recipe for a ghost.

22. “When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I'm not excluding you from the joining I'm broadening the joining.”  Audre Lorde

Accepting differences diversifies rather than excludes.

23. “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Audre Lorde

If you stay silent, the world stays stagnant.

24. “I learned so much from listening to people. And all I knew was, the only thing I had was honesty and openness.” Audre Lorde

We can learn so much from each other if we open up discussions.

25. “If they cannot love and resist at the same time, they probably will not survive.” Audre Lorde

Love and resistance are not mutually exclusive.

26. “The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives.” — Audre Lorde

Find a flattering light.

27. “The more I use my strength in the service of my vision the less I am afraid...” Audre Lorde

Empowerment yields more empowerment.

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28. “The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” Audre Lorde

Sharing is the foundation for connection.

29. “Learning not to crumple before these uncertainties fuels my resolve to print myself upon the texture of each day fully rather than forever.” Audre Lorde

Dive into uncertainty headfirst, and you will learn what is and what can be.

30. “Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak.” Audre Lorde

So speak anyways, don’t go down without a fight.

31. “When times are hard, do something. If it works, do it some more. If it does not work, do something else. But keep going.” Audre Lorde

Tie your sneakers and just do it.

32. “What you hear in my voice is fury, not suffering. Anger, not moral authority.” Audre Lorde

Anger is not hysteria.

33. “We recognize that all knowledge is mediated through the body and that feeling is a profound source of information about our lives.” Audre Lorde

Mind is not over body, the two are connected.

34. “We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit.” Audre Lorde

Kindness should be a reflex.

35. “Our visions begin with our desires.” Audre Lorde

Want hard enough and it will become need.

36. “Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.” Audre Lorde

Literature is the best resource for understanding. It is an uninterrupted conversation.

37. “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” Audre Lorde

Don’t play the game, change it.

38. “You become strong by doing the things you need to be strong for. This is the way genuine learning takes place. That's a very difficult way to live, but it also has served me. It's been an asset as well as a liability.” Audre Lorde

Lift that metaphorical weight!

39. “Without community, there is no liberation...but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.” Audre Lorde

Community is the acceptance and celebration of differences.

40. “We cannot love ‘our people’ unless we love each of us ourselves, unless I love each piece of myself, those I wish to keep and those I wish to change—for survival is the ability to encompass difference, to encompass change without destruction.” Audre Lorde

Defining yourself means you won’t be lost in the mob mentality.

41. “How are you practicing what you preach — whatever you preach, and who is exactly listening?” Audre Lorde

Don’t just say, do.

42. “But the true feminist deals out of a lesbian consciousness whether or not she ever sleeps with women.” Audre Lorde

Feminism does not ignore intersectionality. Feminism that excludes is oxymoronic. 

43. “You need to reach down and touch the thing that’s boiling inside of you and make it somehow useful.” Audre Lorde

Express your fire or it will burn you alive.

44. “We must constantly encourage ourselves and each other to attempt the heretical actions that our dreams imply and so many of our old ideas disparage.” Audre Lorde

Imagine what could be, and then what is will become what has been.

45. “What gets me about the United States is that it pretends to be honest and therefore has so little room to move toward hope.” Audre Lorde

The first step is admitting that there is a problem.

46. “Too often, we pour the energy needed for recognizing and exploring difference into pretending those differences are insurmountable barriers, or that they do not exist at all.” Audre Lorde

Energy used to ignore is wasted when it could be put towards expressing and learning.

47. “What happens when you narrow your definition to what is convenient, or what is fashionable, or what is expected, is dishonesty by silence.” Audre Lorde

Conformity is a lie of identity.

48. “The oppression of women knows no ethnic nor racial boundaries, true, but that does not mean it is identical within those boundaries.” Audre Lorde

Recognizing intersectionality is essential.

49. “There are many kinds of open... Love is a word, another kind of open.” Audre Lorde

Openness accepts differences and brings peace.

50. “What is there possibly left for us to be afraid of, after we have dealt face to face with death and not embraced it? Once I accept the existence of dying as a life process, who can ever have power over me again?” Audre Lorde

Dying is a part of life, not an excuse to reject life.

51. “If I do not bring all of who I am to whatever I do, then I bring nothing, or nothing of lasting worth, for I have withheld my essence.” Audre Lorde

Give your all to what you do.

52. “I have been woman for a long time beware my smile I am treacherous with old magic.” Audre Lorde

Tell me to smile, I dare you.

53. “As a living creature I am part of two kinds of forcesgrowth and decay, sprouting and withering, living and dyingand at any given moment of our lives, each one of us is actively located somewhere along a continuum between these two forces.” Audre Lorde

And our positions on this spectrum are in constant flux.

54. “And 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.” Audre Lorde

Seeking out Audre Lorde’s words is a good first step.

55. “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” — Audre Lorde

Do with intention and your drive will overcome your fear.

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Colleen Fogarty is a writer who covers self-care, astrology, and relationship topics.