On Anger, Oppression, and Terrorism

Though both “Queers read this” (Anon.) and “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” (Lorde) address anger in their own way, Audre Lorde is much more transparent about the subject. This shows not only in the title of each reading but in the tone.

Lorde’s work focusing on anger towards racism is written relatively calmly, given the nature of the topic. The entire piece is more an essay on how to use your anger effectively to promote change. Though the title suggests the discussion focuses on racism and intersectional feminism, the themes presented about controlling anger are very applicable to any sort of oppression (whether based on race, gender, sexual identity, or socioeconomic status). Her anger while writing seems to be tempered in a way that she is able to constructively promote a discussion on how to use anger for the purpose of ending oppression.

Her focus near the beginning is establishing credibility by listing experiences of oppression (both personal and institutional) from her own life. She then goes on to establish that the audience should not be afraid of anger by explaining the difference between hatred and anger, saying “Hatred is the fury of those who do not share our goals, and its object is death and destruction. Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change.” This quote also establishes her stance on how anger should be used; a person’s anger should not promote death and destruction, but instead should initiate change. This change can be achieved through non-violent means, after all, fighting violence with further violence does nothing to achieve peace.

The anonymous work “Queers read this” seems to have a completely opposite stance on the use of anger compared to Lorde. The work is written directly to the reader and riddled with calls to action, therefore giving the impression of a manifesto for the gay rights movement. Like most manifestos, the work is full of hatred and the misuse of anger. The target of this hatred is blatantly described, saying “Until I can enjoy the same freedom of movement and sexuality, as straights, their privilege must stop and it must be given over to me and my queer brothers and sisters.” This along with many other instances throughout the work pegs “the straights” as the problem and must be hated and punished. The work refuses to acknowledge the fact that the only way to win a war is with allies, so attacking all heterosexuals (even if they are allies to the cause) only hurts the movement at large. The work also seemed to refuse to address any diversity amongst the queer community (racial, sexual, or gender-related) and the only time bisexuality is mentioned, it is in a negative tone (conversion therapy). I will not even go into the implications of terrorism on the first page (“Straights must be frightened into it. Terrorized into it.”) or the numerous occasions throughout the work that the solution proposed was violence, because there is too much to get into to be able to explain how wrong that mentality truly is.

 

I read “Queers read this” first; throughout the work, I was scared that some people think that way and finished thinking there should be a comma in the title (Queers, read this) as an indication of the directive. After reading Lorde’s essay, I felt much more at ease with the mindset she used and her uses for anger. Here are a couple questions I would love for you all to answer:

  1. As a person that identifies as bisexual, I brought my own expectations and experiences to “Queers read this”; I was wondering if anyone else had expectations of the article coming in and how that affected your attitude or understanding of the manifesto?
  2. In what ways do you manage your anger and how do you use it throughout your life? Are you more similar in approach to the author of “Queers read this” or are you more akin to the views of Audre Lorde?

I’m excited to hear your responses!

-James “Jim” Hall

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One thought on “On Anger, Oppression, and Terrorism

  1. Due to recent events (IE the election and all that has come from it: the riots, protests, and hate crimes), I’ve found myself coming back to the earlier sections of this class. I’ve reread Lorde’s piece a few times since our initial assignment, and have drawn from this energy to use my anger to be productive.

    The day after the election, my interactions with my peers online and in real life were colored by my anger. It is Lorde who reminded me that this anger can be productive. This semester, I’ve had more than one reinforcer that suggests that suppressing negative emotions such as anger is more hurtful than helpful. Both of my upper-level psych classes (Emotion and Abnormal Psych) have suggested that therapy treatments that utilize acceptance therapy, and living in the moment of anger/sadness/fear, helps you cope with those emotions better.

    To the conservatives who try to stifle the protests and anger of marginalized people (I’m thinking of people I know personally and that idiot, Tomi Lauren. I don’t know if I’m spelling her name right and I don’t care. I really despise her), I want to remind them that our anger is different from intolerable hate; it is productive an a call for change. I refuse to be neutral and passive.

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