On Audre Lorde’s Legacy and the “Self” of Self-Care, Part 2 of 3
[Image: from the Black Community Survival Conference, DeFremery (locally known as Lil’ Bobby Hutton) Park, Oakland, CA, March 29, 1972. I first encountered this image via Alondra Nelson’s brilliant book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.]
“If I were president, I would solve this so-called welfare crisis in a minute and go a long way toward liberating every woman. I’d just issue a proclamation that ‘women’s’ work is real work.”
- Johnnie Tillmon, “Welfare as a Women’s Issue.”
”The modern world hates to see black folks resting.”
- Lewis Gordon, “African American Philosophy, Race, and the Geography of Reason.”
This post is an experiment. It attempts to find a new route to the question of what it means to politicize Audre Lorde’s legacy. Its search is partly in response to what I described in part 1 as the tendency in some cases to deify Lorde by extracting her from the political context in which she lived, or by reducing her to a set of pithy (if brilliant) quotations, or by invoking her as an unqualified paragon of black women’s resilience. In attempting to route the conversation differently, my strategy is to try and glimpse Lorde through an archive that is not of her published writings but of a set of struggles and contexts that affirm dimensions of her humanity and her work that are too rarely emphasized—her struggles with health and wellness, her status as worker, her vulnerability to the very discourses that demand that she be seen as powerful. Doing this means following a route that may, to some, seem rather circuitous. I can only hope that by the end, those divergences will make some sense.