1. “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

2. “Revolution is not a one-time event.”

3. “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

4. “Without community, there is no liberation.”

5. “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.”

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


7. “Your will not protect you.”

8. “Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.”

9. “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

10. “Art is not living. It is the use of living.”

11. “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.”

12. “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.”

13. “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.”

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

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

16. “Oppression is as American as apple pie.”

17. “Our visions begin with our desires.”

18. “A choice of pains – that’s what living was all about.”

19. “The more I use my strength in the service of my vision, the less I am afraid.”


20. “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

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

22. “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

23. “We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.”

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

25. “I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I’ll be sending messages on an Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.”

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

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

28. “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.”

29. “In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.”

30. “I do not want to be tolerated, nor misnamed. I want to be recognized.”

31. “If you can’t change reality, change your perceptions of it.”

32. “I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the . The intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk through the rain.”

33. “I am trying to become the strongest person I can become to live the life I have been given and to help effect change toward a liveable future for this earth and for my children.”

34. “When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

35. “I will become strong, the best, excel in everything, become the very best because I don’t dare to be anything else.”

36. “We need a movement [that] you and me to define ourselves.”

37. “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.”

38. “We are all more blind to what we have than to what we have not.”

39. “In a world of possibility for us all, our personal visions help lay the groundwork for political action.”

40. “And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.”

41. “You cannot, you cannot use . You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.”

42. “You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same. What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities.”

43. “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.”

44. “And I find I must remember that the pain is not its own reason for being. It is a part of living. And the only kind of pain that is intolerable is pain that is wasteful, pain from which we do not learn. And I think that we must learn to distinguish between the two.”

45. “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

46. “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”

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

48. “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.”

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

50. “What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence.”

51. “How hard it is to sleep in the middle of life.”

52. “So it is better to speak, remembering we were never meant to survive.”

53. “May I never lose that terror that keeps me brave.”

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

55. “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.”

56. “Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.”

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

58. “Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.”

59. “There are many kinds of power—used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise.”

60. “I am standing here as a Black lesbian poet, and the meaning of all that waits upon the fact that I am still alive, and might not have been.”

61. “As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.”

62. “Women are powerful and dangerous.”


63. “Unacknowledged class differences rob women of each others’ energy and creative insight.”

64. “Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as humans. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves–along with the renewed to try them out.”

65. “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.”

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

67. “And where the words of women are crying to be heard, each of us must recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives.”

68. “If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is discounted as a luxury, then we give up the core—the fountain—of our power, our womanness; we give up the future of our worlds.”

69. “In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.”

70. “Among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children there can be no hierarchies of oppression.”

71. “For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence.”

72. “We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. 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.”

73. “When we create out of our experiences, as feminists of color, women of color, we have to develop those structures that will present and circulate our culture.”

74. “The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson.”

75. “For Black women as well as Black men, it is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others—for their use and to our detriment.”

76. “For wherever our oppression manifests itself in this country, Black people are potential victims.”

77. “Out of my flesh that hungers and my mouth that knows comes the shape, I am seeking for reason.”

78. “In the forefront of our move towards change, there is only poetry to hint at possibility made real.”

79. “Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.”

80. “There are lesbians – God knows, if you came up through lesbian circles in the forties and fifties in New York – who were not feminist and would not call themselves feminists.”

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

82. “Black women are programmed to define ourselves within this male attention and to compete with each other for it rather than to recognize and move upon our common interests.”

83. “Part of the lesbian consciousness is an absolute recognition of the erotic within our lives and taking that a step further, dealing with the erotic not only in sexual terms.”

84. “It’s a struggle but that’s why we exist, so that another generation of lesbians of color will not have to invent themselves, or their history, all over again.”

85. “I remember how being young, and black, and gay, and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine – feeling I had the truth, and the light, and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.”

86. “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.’”

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

88. “Oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.”

89. “I wasn’t or passive enough to be ‘femme,’ and I wasn’t mean or tough enough to be ‘butch.’ I was given a wide berth. Non-conventional people can be dangerous, even in the gay community.”

90. “I have been a woman for a long time, beware my smile – I am treacherous with old magic.”

91. “The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.”

92. “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.”

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

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

95. “Unless one lives and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.”

96. “Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever.”

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

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