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A Litany for Survival
By Audre Lorde
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.
"A Litany for Survival." Copyright © 1978 by Audre Lorde, from The Collected Poems of Audre
Self proclaimed “Black, lesbian, feminist, mother, poet warrior” Audre Lorde hailed from the streets of New York City and changed the world with her striking poems and essays that preached for the voices of women of color to be heard. “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t,” said Lorde in 1985. Some of her most famous works of poetry include, The First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), and The Black Unicorn (1976). After being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a mastectomy, Lorde documented her journey in The Cancer Journals (1980) and refused to be made a victim of the disease. She battled cancer and lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the next decade where she took the African name Gamba Adisa, meaning "she who makes her meaning clear." Audre Lorde died on November 17, 1992. She rests as a warrior poet, activist, feminist and queen. Read more of her work here.
These are just twelve victims of police brutality and hate crimes against African Americans in the last decade. Twelve out of the thousands of African Americans in this country who have lost their lives, the chance to reach their dreams, be fathers and mothers to their children because of the men in blue who are supposed to protect us. African Americans make up 13 % of the population in America and yet are twice as likely to get killed by police compared to white Americans.
Black Lives Matter.
Black Women Matter.
Black Men Matter.
Black Trans Lives Matter.
Black LGBTQ + Matter.
I want and I know all of us can help change this country, so that when you are Black your death note is not signed the second you inhale the air of the “land of the free.”
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