On Motherhood

Our introduction to Zami is largely centered on Lorde’s childhood and the environment she grew up in. Specifically, Lorde focuses a great deal on her mother, who appears to play a huge role in her perception of the world. She attributes much of her personality in retrospect to her mother—things like her strength, poetic language, and even anger. As she puts it, “I am a reflection of my mother’s secret poetry as well as of her hidden angers” (32).

Looking back at the other piece we read by Lorde, “The Uses of Anger,” there seems to be a clear impact of Lorde’s upbringing and her mother’s approaches to anger on her ideas. Lorde’s mother appears to address racism by ignoring it—“it was so typical of my mother when I was younger that if she couldn’t stop white people from spitting on her children because they were Black, she would insist it was something else” (18). She also stifles her emotions, not wanting to appear weak. However, in contrast, Lorde’s essay tells us that anger is a useful tool and a necessary consequence of growing up in a prejudiced society. Instead of avoiding the problem of racism, we know Lorde grows up to become an outspoken advocate and addresses it directly. It seems that the “hidden angers” Lorde observes in her mother as a child go on to strongly influence her social and political ideas, either as a reactionary response or an inspiration. 

Lorde’s parents play a very large role in her life, especially compared to the roles of parental figures in the other books we’ve read. What other ways can we see the influence of Lorde’s parents in her writing style or other essay(s)/ what we know of her?

Lorde goes goes into great detail about “other-ness” in the text, e.g. her family’s immigrant status, her blackness, her contrary behavior, her womanhood. In what ways does Lorde’s “other-ness” come into play, both within her family life and outside in the communities she lives in?

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One thought on “On Motherhood

  1. While I do agree with Lorde’s mother heavily shaping her impact in the world, instead of ignoring the racism and xenophobia that is thrown at her, she’s simply hiding it for the sake of her children. She has their best interests at hear and if she acknowledges the bad in the world, it’ll paint her children’s eyes black. It’s all in her best efforts to protect them.

    Furthermore, her mother may simply just be tired. I’ve spoken to my own mother about this before: she used to be highly politically active in Pakistan in college. She fought all her life to break the gender and racial status quo in this country and the workforce. Now, after she has retired, she hasn’t given up, she’s rather resigned from her position and given it to the next generation. She says she is just too tired to fight any longer and would rather just enjoy the vast progress she’s made and watch me take it over. Perhaps that is what Lorde’s mother has done. After all, she has left the entirety of her life behind in Cariacou and began her existence and her fight over again. She might just be tired.

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