What cultural assumptions is Lorde speaking against in her pieces?

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I would like to clarify that Lorde refers to the late Caribbean-American writer Audre Lorde and not the pop star Lorde (Ella Marija) of the hit song “Royals”. The question also relates to Audre’s work on A Litany for Survival.

In her work, Lorde was strongly expressing herself on the issue of remaining silent in the face of injustice and discrimination. Her life exemplified that of an outsider in almost all aspects of her individuality, she was a black lesbian woman in America. She encountered the challenges of racism, gender inequality and discrimination based on her sexuality. Through her work she recognized the role of the powerful who perpetrated the injustice but who were also cunning enough to subdue the weak into silence. This situation ensured the weak participated in nurturing their own troubles and challenges.

the heavy-footed hoped to silence us

For all of us

this instant and this triumph

We were never meant to survive.

According to Audre, the weak or the marginalized are kept in a worrisome state to ensure they focus on other issues and lose sight of the oppression they are being subjected to. This state of affairs is aimed at subduing them to their fates and rendering them helpless with no opportunity to survive.

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

nor welcomed

but when we are silent

we are still afraid

In summary, Lorde was speaking against the culture of discrimination and the entrenched state of silence and fear among the oppressed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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