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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Audre Lorde reading in 1979

Audre Lorde reading her poem "Between Ourselves" in October 1979 at the Third World Conference at Howard University the day before the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Audio courtesy of Rainbow History Project archives.

Between Ourselves      Audre Lorde

Once when I walked into a room
my eyes would seek out the one or two black faces
for contact or reassurance or a sign
I was not alone
now walking into rooms full of black faces
that would destroy me for any difference
where shall my eyes look?
Once it was easy to know
who were my people.

If we were stripped of all pretense
to our strength
and our flesh was cut away
the sun would bleach all our bones
as white
as the face of my black mother
was bleached white by gold
or Orishala
and how
does not measure me?
I do not believe
our wants have made all our lies
Under the sun on the shores of Elimina
a black man sold the woman who carried
my grandmother in her belly
he was paid with bright yellow coins
that shone in the evening sun
and in the faces of her sons and daughters.
When I see that brother behind my eyes
his irises are bloodless and without colour
his tongue clicks like yellow coins
tossed up on this shore
where we share the same corner
of an alien and corrupted heaven
and whenever I try to eat
the words
of easy blackness as salvation
I taste the colour
of my grandmother’s first betrayal.

I do not believe
our wants
have made our lies

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