The Fire of Anger                                                                                            Sun, 18th February, 2018

A prose poem inspired by Audre Lorde’s essay: “Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism”

Anger is a flame. It flares up sometimes when you least expect it. Like when you are working, and speaking and doing your best to make sense of the world and you are suddenly slapped in the face by the ignorance of people who don’t get it. Who don’t get you. Who can’t hear. And who long ago forgot how to listen.

Anger is when a member of the dominant culture says, “Tell me how you feel, but don’t say it too harshly or I cannot hear you.”

Anger is when someone says the problem is that you, the oppressed, just need to understand them, the oppressors.

Anger is something that only belongs to us people of color. “Let them work it out,” they say, while they cross to the other side of the street.

Anger is when they say, “What about my anger”? As if the erasure of my culture, my sex, my being can be compared with your white discomfort.

Anger is when the little white girl in the supermarket points at my little Black girl and says, “Oh look, Mommy, a baby maid!”

Anger is when they say, “If we could only talk calmly about racism without having to deal with the harshness of Black women.”

What is this anger, exploding inside of me? When I attend to my own rage, I hear truth, and I feel energy. That bang that can thrust me past silent suffering and into the streets.

Let my anger be a candle that illuminates my truth, like a candlelight vigil that draws in more and more fiery flames to create action in the service of our vision.

Let my resentment remind us that pain is a message—a message that racism and sexism and homophobia are weeping wounds on the body of our people that cry out for healing.

Let my rage be a flame for all to see, a thousand points of light illuminating a thousand black and brown faces that for too long have been silent and invisible.

Let my outrage be a voice shouting in the darkness, joined by another, and another, and another until we have banished silence and embraced our survival.

Let my fire be one of creative destruction, one that sweeps away the old growth and calling forth out of the blackened earth shoots of green hope.

May we all be transformed, not by guilt, but by finally lighting up the dark so that we can see where we’ve been, and where we must go.

Do not fear my anger. Fear the darkness instead.