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4.7 out of 5 stars
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Crossing Press Feminist Series)
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
No poems this time around, folks: prose that gets under your skin and into your head. The late, great Audre Lorde, known primarily for her poetry over the years, wrote what is one of the most compelling books on sociology, sexuality, racism and the nature of human character and existence in the last 20 years. Her charges are damning, but dashed with more than a spoonful of hope when appropriate, and it is impossible to walk away from this book unchanged.
No New Age-isms, no agendas...just common-sense reactions to everyday experiences told in a way that not only everyone can understand, but in a way everyone SHOULD understand.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although Audre Lorde distinguished herself as a poet, her prose writings are an indispensable part of her overall literary achievement. "Sister Outsider" is an excellent collection of her prose from the late 1970s and early 1980s. This book brings together essays, speeches, journal entries, and an illuminating dialogue between Lorde and sister poet Adrienne Rich. While each piece stands alone as a complete and thought-provoking gem, the book as a whole constitutes one of the most extraordinary intellectual testaments of the 20th century.
Lorde writes from her perspective as a Black woman, a lesbian, a feminist, a poet, a mother, a teacher, and a cultural activist. Her voice is forthright and unsparing in moral outrage, yet filled with hope and poetic beauty. One of the core themes unifying this collection is her incisive analysis of the interlocking, overlapping axes of difference, privilege, abuse, and resistance. As she deconstructs such phenomena as homophobia, racism, and sexism, Lorde is both intellectually ambitious and down-to-earth; in her arguments with academic figures, she never forgets the real impact of discrimination and violence upon those who live outside the relatively privileged worlds of academia.
Each piece in "Sister Outsider" makes a unique contribution to the overall impact of the book. "Notes from a Trip to Russia" is a fascinating historical document from the Cold War era. "Poetry Is Not a Luxury" serves as an important part of Lorde's artistic manifesto. "An Open Letter to Mary Daly" offers an illuminating glimpse into some of the tensions within the feminist movement of the 1970s. And "Grenada Revisited" is a powerful counterpoint to the Reaganite view of a military action in the Caribbean. The other eleven pieces are equally thought-provoking.
In the essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House," Lorde expands upon the title statement by adding, "They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change." Lorde's powerful writings may just give us readers some real tools that we can use to bring about "real change"--both within ourselves and in our society.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Audre Lorde was one of the most amazing, beautiful women of this century. She is truly inspirational and mind-blowing. Sister Outsider is a book of essays, all of them really well-written, insightfull, and thought provoking. The essay that the "Your silence will not protect you" quote is from is in this book and it is beautiful. Please get this book, read it and tell others about it. "When I dare to be powerful and to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether or not I am afraid" -Audre Lorde
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a compilation of material Lorde wrote in the 70s 80s. Lorde is one of the foremost writers on the subjects of patriarchy, sexism, homphobia and race relations that the West has ever seen. She talks about how to make change and helps the reader truly understand the situation of people who are underprivileged and discriminated against in our society. Of all the books I read in my Women's Studies classes, this is the one that stayed with me. It is at once intellectually challenging and accessible. I particularly enjoyed her "Notes from a Trip to Russia" and "An Open Letter to Mary Daly." The piece that has had the most impact on my life, however, is "The Masters Tools," which is a blueprint for change. She is giving us the keys we need to not only improve our own lives, but the world as a whole. Lorde's words ring as true today as they did when the book was first published. A must read!!!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
"I have come to work on you like a drug or a chisel" wrote the late Audre Lorde. Her passing created a hollow space in my soul that is now full again, thanks to Audre Lorde. Despite the fact that 'Sister Outsider' is assigned in virtually every women's studies and gender studies 101, do not think it is dry, ultimately a mere 'academic' book. Audre Lorde lived in and for a radical poetics and a radical pedagogy. If you have not discovered her work yet, please get a hold of a copy. It might save your life the way it saved mine, and I am white, male and straight, with a fierce hatred of white supremacy, patriarchy, and homophobia. But never mind my repeating a mantra you have heard, simply read this book as soon as possible.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I wish I'd read this book 30 years ago when it came out. It's still as relevant today as it was then--and in many ways just as revolutionary. I'm not black, but it applies to anyone who does not run with the crowd and has a strong desire to look at things honestly in spite of the personal discomfort involved. Things need to change in the US--we need to see ourselves as in this thing together(life, the "American experiment"),and this book drives that home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
delicious prose. rich words. a lot of anger and pain evident in her writings, but for valid reasons. my copy has a lot of penciled-in hearts and underlines...

"and it is never without fear--of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgement, 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." (transformation of silence).

not a book you can quickly skim through cover to cover. i took each chapter in slowly, sometimes re-read it, and put the book down for a while.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is much more than a book, a collection of writings. It's an experience more like surviving a traumatic event, seeing a deep and distressing movie or having a long and difficult talk with someone who has been oppressed from all sides. It accomplishes that which no other book I have ever read has done. Aside from the profound personal impact it has had on me, it details a horror story of a life lived with incomparable insight into humanity as well as with courage which faces that horror every day. I bought and read the book based on the other reviews above. They are all correct, but the praise this book deserves is understated. It may well be the greatest book of psychological insight and advice ever written. Only Dostoevsky's works compare. Lorde defies all the labels she and others use to describe her. This is the most human of all books because it stares the weaknesses we all share right in the face and finds ways to fight if not conquer them as well as pointing out strategies that are counterproductive. Lorde allows the reader to get inside her skin like no other writer, and for the first time ever, made me feel the anger, terror, fear, helplessness I have sensed in many if not all black people. And yet her greatest criticisms are not of whites, but especially of her black sisters and then her brothers. She clearly does not set herself apart because she knows she has had "my boot on a sister's face". Richard Adams wrote a story called "The Hole in the Sky". Most people never see it, but this book describes best of all what makes up that hole and what it feels like to see it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book pieces together many sources that create a fairly comprehensive picture of Audre Lorde. She makes one of the more compelling cases for why anger should be in the arsenal of minority-status groups, which is something I'm always struggling with in feminism, Black feminism, et al.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I really don't like the term feminist. We are all female.
Our level of getting proactive about own lives and those of
other women are effective the same measure that choose
read, indulge our curiosity and ask questions. All the women
in this book do that. I am female, feminine and yes, I can now
embrace feminist. But I still remain un-smitten by pet labels and terms.
I wish we could all just simply be people first...change is slow, execpt
for when it's not. :-)
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