Source Notes: Angela Y. Davis. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement; and; Audre Lorde. Sister Outsider.

Source Notes: Angela Y. Davis. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement; and; Audre Lorde. Sister Outsider.

I’m doing readings and re-readings for several reports and papers. I find taking long quote notes helpful  in remembering/understanding the longer scope/impact of works, and it eases the weaving together of sources. I like to have my sources online for my own ease of searching, and it’s always nice to share references and quotes from great works. I hope others might find this useful, too.


Angela Y. Davis. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2016.

Page 49:  “I don’t think we have any alternative other than remaining optimistic. Optimism is an absolute necessity, even if it’s only optimism of the will, as Gramsci said, and pessimism of the intellect. What has kept me going has been the development of new modes of community. I don’t know whether I would have survived had not movements survived, had not communities of resistance, communities of struggle. So whatever I’m doing I always feel myself directly connected to those communities and I think that this is an era where we have to encourage that sense of community particularly at a time when neoliberalism attempts to force people to think of themselves only in individual terms and not in collective terms. It is in collectives that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”

Pages 66-67: “Regimes of racial segregation were not disestablished because of the work of leaders and presidents and legislators, but rather [begin page 67] because of the fact that ordinary people adopted a critical stance in the way in which they perceived their relationship to reality. Social realities that may have appeared inalterable, impenetrable, came to be viewed as malleable and transformable; and people learned how to imagine what it might mean to live in a world that was not so exclusively governed by the principle of white supremacy. This collective consciousness emerged within the context of social struggles.”

Page 72: “freedom is more expansive than civil rights.”

Page 115: “Of course many of you are familiar with the William Faulkner quote that bears repeating: ‘The past is never dead. The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.’ And so we live with the ghosts of our past. We live with the ghosts of slavery. […] I want to pursue this theme of living with the ghosts of our pasts. […] The movement we call the ‘civil rights movement,’ and that was called by most of its participants the ‘freedom movement,’ reveals an interesting slippage between freedom and civil rights, that the only way to be free is to acquire civil rights within the existing framework of society.”

Page 116: “And I also think it’s important for us to think forward and to imagine future history in a way that is not restrained by our lifetimes. Oftentimes people say, well, of it takes that long, I’ll be dead. So what? Everybody dies, right?” […] Page 117: “And so we have to learn how to imagine the future in terms not restricted to our own lifetimes.”

Page 135: “Our histories never unfold in isolation. We cannot truly tell what we consider to be our own histories without knowing the other stories.  And often we discover that those other stories are actually our own stories. This is the admonition ‘Learn your sisters’ stories’ by Black feminist sociologist Jacqui Alexander. This is a dialectical process that requires us to constantly retell our stories, to revise them and retell them and relaunch them. We can thus not pretend that we do not know about the conjunctures of race and class and ethnicity and nationality and sexuality and ability.”

Page 145: “But when we think about the impact of these imaginative and innovative actions and these moments where people learned how to be together without the scaffolding of the state, when they learned to solve problems without succumbing to the impulse of calling the police, that should serve as a true inspiration for the work that we will do in the future to build these transnational solidarities. Don’t we want to be able to imagine the expansion of freedom and justice in the world” […] If this is the case, we will have to do something quite extraordinary: We will have to go to great lengths. We cannot go on as usual. We cannot pivot the center. We cannot be moderate. We will have to be willing to stand up and say no with our combined spirits, our collective intellects, and many bodies.

Audre Lorde. Sister Outsider. New York: The Crossing Press Feminist Series (Random House), 1984, 2007.

“Introduction” by Nancy K. Bereano, 1983, pages 8-12

“Introduction,” page 11: “When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I’m not excluding you from the joining—I’m broadening the joining.” (qtd from an interview in The Feminist Renaissance)

“Trip to Russia” pages 13-35

Page 28: “What gets me about the United States is that it pretends to be honest and therefore has so little room to move toward hope. I think that in America there are certain kinds of problems and in Russia there are certain kinds of problems, but basically, when you find people who start from a position where human beings are at the core, as opposed to a position where profit is at the core, the solutions can be very different.”

“Poetry is Not a Luxury”, pages 36-39

Page 36: “The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are – until the poem – nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding.”

Page 38: “The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary demand, the implementation of that freedom.”

“The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” pages 40-44

Page 40: “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.”

Page 41: “And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into perspective gave me great strength.”

Page 43: “And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives. That we not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own.”

Page 44: “[i]t is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”

“Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women and Loving” pages 45-52

Page 51:

“This jugular vein psychology is based on the fallacy that your assertion or affirmation of self is an attack upon my self – or that my defining myself will somehow prevent or retard your self-definition. The supposition that one sex needs the other’s acquiescence in order to exist prevents both from moving together as self-defined persons toward a common goal.

This kind of action is a prevalent error among oppressed peoples. It is based upon the false notion that there is only a limited and particular amount of freedom that must be divided up between us, with the largest and juiciest pieces of liberty going as spoils to the victor or the stronger. So instead of joining together to fight for more, we quarrel between ourselves for a larger slice of the one pie.”

“Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” pages 53-59

Page 53: “In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change.”

Page 54: “The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.”

Page 55: “The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need – the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.”

Page 55: “The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects – born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony.

Page 57-58:

“I find the erotic such a kernel within myself. When released from its intense and constrained pellet, it flows through and colors my life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens my experience.

We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to [start page 58] suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance.”

Page 58:

“Our acts against oppression become integral with self, motivated and empowered from within.

In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, and anxiety.”

Page 58: “To share the power of each other’s feelings is different from using another’s feelings as we would use a Kleenex. When we look the other way from our experience, erotic or otherwise, we use rather than share the feelings of those others who participate in the experience with us. And use without consent of the used is abuse.”

Page 59: “Recognizing the power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue genuine change within our world, rather than merely settling for a shift of characters in the same weary drama.”

“Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist’s Response” pages 72-80

Page 74: “Men who are afraid to feel must keep women around to do their feeling for them while dismissing us for the same supposedly ‘inferior’ capacity to feel deeply. But in this way also, men deny themselves their own essential humanity, becoming trapped in dependency and fear.”

“An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich” pages 81-109

AL, page 98: “The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot. And then, just possibly, hopefully, it goes home, or on.”

AL, page 99: “One thing has always kept me going – and it’s not really courage of bravery, unless that’s what courage or bravery is made of – is a sense that there are so many ways in which I’m vulnerable and cannot help but be vulnerable, I’m not going to be more vulnerable by putting weapons of silence in my enemies’ hands.”

AL, page 100: “[I]f you’re traveling a road that begins nowhere and ends nowhere, the ownership of that road is meaningless. If you have no land out of which the road comes, no place that road goes to, geographically, no goal, then the existence of that road is totally meaningless. […] Rationality is not unnecessary. It serves the chaos of knowledge. It serves feeling. It serves to get from this place to that place. But if you don’t honor those places, then the road is meaningless.

“The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” pages 110-113

Page 111: “Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Differences must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters.”

“Learning from the 60s” pages 134-144

Page 138: “We are not perfect, but we are stronger and wiser than the sum of our errors.”

Page 139: “Within each one of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust.”

“Grenada Revisited: An Interim Report” pages 176-189

Page 189: qtd slogan of the Grenadian Revolution “Forward Ever, Backward Never