The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism 

Audre Lorde’s analysis of the function of anger in combating racism is a refreshing take on the misleading assumption that black women are vessels of indisposable anger. She takes the negative connotation of anger and turns it into a catalyst for change. Women are told every day that they are supposed to look a certain way and act a certain way that does not disrupt the environment that they find themselves in. Women of color are not allowed to react to the racism that they experience, especially in the workplace. I admired how Lorde did not hold back on criticizing how the conference perpetuates racism. She states, “Yet the National Women’s Studies Association here in 1981 holds a conference in which it commits itself to responding to racism, yet refuses to waive the registration fee for poor women and women of Color – for instance, Wilmette Brown, of Black Women for Wages for Housework – to participate in this conference. Is this to be merely another case of the academy discussing life within the close circuits of the academy?” The hypocrisy of organizations meant to promote inclusivity by hosting Lorde as a speaker while simultaneously presenting as an exclusive event is unsurprising. Lorde also states, “Hatred is the fury of those who do not share our goals, and its object is death and destruction. Anger is a grief of distortion between peers, and its object is change.” I found this distinction between anger and hatred to be profound as I have correlated the two. Lorde’s description of anger as a grief of distortions between peers allowed me to understand why anger is a feeling and hatred is acted on. Towards the end of the MLK/FBI documentary it was stated that the fear of black Americans has a lot to do with white people’s own perception of themselves and the danger of black people forcing a reckoning with the violence of the American past. I think that the fear of black anger is the reason why black women are stereotyped as angry individuals and are forced to appear and act without resentment. Lorde’s analysis of anger as a form of protection and change has changed my perspective on how anger should not have to be oppressed to validate the feelings of others, while invalidating your own. Anger is more political than I imagined.