February 14, 2014
Language and Speech
If it were you last days to be alive what would you say and to what extent you are willing to go to get your voice heard. Audre Lorde was not only a writer , she was a teacher and a novelist who did much of her writing based on her own experiences as black lesbian women. She was a teacher from 1970 to 1979 in the English department at John Jay College of criminal justice also she taught English at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She wrote about her life through poetry and wanted to share it with the world to other women who may have been in the same situation as her. In 1977 Audre Lorde presented the transformation of silence in to language and action to a group of graduate students and professors at the modern language Association convention in a panel called the lesbian and literature. In her passage of “The transformation of Silence into Language and action (Culture Conversation 79) her goal was to empower women and to teach them the power of freedom of speech. She felt that all women should be able to express themselves through language and action.
“But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone we can survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.”
Audre believed that we must teach by living and speaking. She was a teacher who wanted to make a difference and knew that the only way she could do so was to teach other women and to be an example of speaking the truth at any cost. The only way to be heard is to speak up and not let anything hold you back. It is only going to hurt you if you don’t speak freely as a person. Everyone has a right to tell their story. By doing so in this way we can survive by being part of this process of life and to keep learning and growing as time continues.
"I was going to die, if not sooner than later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you." (79)
Lorde uses her-personal experience to relate with the community. She uses this transition from her personal as [aspect to a political concern. Lorde was a breast cancer patient. She uses the fact that breast cancer can affect all women. It doesn’t see color or class or race. She had gone through a scare when she was told she had to have breast cancer surgery. She had experienced many emotions during a long three weeks waiting to undergo breast cancer surgery. In this time, she had time to think about what she had to say to the world before she dies. She knew she only had little time left to live. She believed that what really matters in the end is to be heard and to be able to speak up and speak out freely. This only came to be more and more into a reality when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This changed Lorde's outlook on life. Having to see her life flash before her eyes and not knowing if it were her last days to break the silence. It was her time to speak up. It was either die in silence or to face her fears and transform her silence into language and action.
“And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger.” (80).
She had a great impact on many women who had encountered the same type of experiences. Audre had written many of her experiences in The Cancer journals, she believed that it was important for her voice to be heard shared and read by other women. She makes it a point to tell all women: black, white, young, or old, that it didn’t matter what backgrounds they come from, that each and every woman has a right to speak freely. To suffer in silence is not right and if she were to change anything in her life she would change the fact that she was afraid to speak up. If she dies without being able to speak…