The first time I read Audre Lorde’s words “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing”, my stomach swelled with an indescribable pride. Black feminism. You may have read the phrase, defined it on your own terms, or even disregarded it. But, reading Lorde’s declaration pushed me to discover a new dimension of the label, and to understand that the liberation of Black women could be found not only in our collective action, but also our words. I craved more words from women like Lorde, who were usually left out of my school’s history lessons. So, I searched– and I found a collection of words and calls to action that are not only relevant to Black women, but to building a foundation of self and of community for everyone.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes to draw upon whenever I am need of a little inspiration or boost. These feminist wordsmiths weave together sentences that have sparked revolution, self-love and sacrifice. Get you some.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
“Most of us did not learn when we were young that our capacity to be self-loving would be shaped by the work we do and whether that work enhances our well-being.” – bell hooks
“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” – bell hooks
“In search of my mother's garden, I found my own.” – Alice Walker
“Revolution is a serious thing, the most serious thing about a revolutionary's life. When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime.” – Angela Davis
“The job of the writer is to make revolution irresistible.” – Toni Cade Bambera
“You can’t dump one cup of sugar into the ocean and expect to get syrup. If everybody sweetened her own cup of water, then things would begin to change.” –Florynce Kennedy
“When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.” – bell hooks
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Shirley Chisholm
“I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black: it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.” – June Jordan
“I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable.” – Audre Lorde