“The Uses of Anger” and “Queers Read This”

Both of these pieces had interesting and insightful things to say about anger in response to oppression. The place of anger in political discourse is still debated in the queer and feminist communities, so these works are still very much relevant today.

One thing that stood out to me (and frustrated me) was the discussion of privileged people trying to silence the anger of queer people and women of color. This is still an issue, and based on these readings it seems the problem hasn’t improved much in the past few decades. When oppressed people react with rage, it’s still very common to see other people (sometimes even within their own communities) say things like “‘You’re overreacting,’ or ‘You have a victim’s mentality'” (Anonymous, 11-12) As Lorde writes, this tactic is really just a method of avoiding guilt and fear and don’t further the conversation.

Moreover, trying to silence their anger only teaches opressed people to repress their emotions. Not only does that hinder political discussions, it hurts the individual by making them feel they have no proper ourlet for their frustration. It really rang true for me when Lorde said, “anger has eaten clefts in my living only when it remained unspoken” (131).

While “Queers Read This” and “The Uses of Anger” are directed at different movements, they have the same overarching message: Anger isn’t going to hurt your struggle for freedom, hiding it will. I think a lot of activists today need to hear that.

Discussion questions:
– “The Uses of Anger” is written in an academic tone while “Queers Read This” is very colloquial. Do you think that affected your response to each piece?
– “The Uses of Anger” was written for a feminist conference. In what ways and to what extent do you think Lorde’s ideas are relevant to a queer audience – particularly non-POC/non-female audiences?

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One thought on ““The Uses of Anger” and “Queers Read This”

  1. I think the The Uses of Anger is highly relevant to political discourse today. Subjugated and subservients to white supremacy could take a look at Lorde’s works and relate it to a lot of what is happening in the state of affairs of America today. Look at the Dakota Access Pipeline: while a peaceful sit-in protest, by voicing their anger and displeasure at the contamination of vital water sources and criticism of the American government, action was brought around. Holding signs and holding ground, the native people and their supports ensured that the Sacred Land remained sacred.

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