The Black Syllabus
The Audre Lorde Questionnaire to Oneself
Inspired by the original Audre Lorde Questionnaire to Oneself, Asha Grant of The Free Black Women's Library: Los Angeles has put together additional questionnaires for us to ponder, all adapted from the Lorde's works. I have compiled them all here and will continue to update this page as they release more! It is recommended that you read the essay/speech/book listed and then journal using the prompts as a guide. You can find all these and more fantastic content on TFBWL_LA's instagram.
An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich (1979)
How do you take a position against the fear of an articulated power that exists not on your terms?
How can we reach down in threatening difference without being killed or killing?
How do you deal with things you believe, live them not as theory, not even as emotion, but right on the line of action and effect and change?
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, ch. 1 (1982)
To whom do you owe the power behind your voice, what strength you have become, yeasting up like sudden blood from under the bruised skin's blister?
Do they continue to inform your sense of self (in totality, fragments, phases)?
What are the symbols of your survival? (draw or list 3)
The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House* (1984)
Nurturing is the power patriarchy fears. What are ways you can rediscover this power by nurturing your friends, family, and inner child?
Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom that allows the I to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. Are there things in your life that threaten this trust and interdependency? List as many as you can. When did this begin?
Without community there is no liberation. How can you implement a radical practice that requires courage, vulnerability, and trust within your community?
Commencement Address: Oberlin College (1989)
Each one of us has privilege. For example, you have a bed and you do not go to it hungry. Your privilege is not a reason for guilt, it is part of your power to be used in support of those things you say you believe.
What is your privilege and what do you say you believe? (List as many as you can.) Are these in conflict?
How much of your life are you willing to spend protecting your privileged status? Is that more than you are prepared to spend putting your dreams/beliefs for a better world into action?
Your power is relative, but it is real. How can you use your power this week and beyond?
Poetry Makes Something Happen (Undated, published in 2009)
"I cannot separate my life and my work (poetry). I am a Black Woman Poet Lesbian Mother Lover Teacher Friend Warrior, and I am shy, strong, fat, generous, loyal, and crotchety, among other things." Who are you? (List 6-10 characteristics, qualities, adjectives)
Do you bring all of who you are to what you do? Why or why not?
What are ways you can cherish and respect all parts of who you are in your work, with family, in activist spaces, and in hostile environments? How can you support others on this journey?
Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger (1983)
Theorizing about self-worth is ineffective. So is pretending. How do you practice rather than perform self-worth, self-love? Can performance evolve in practice?
Until now, there has been little that taught us how to be kind to each other. To the rest of the world, yes, but not to ourselves. How can radical Mothering disrupt this? How can you hold the bruised girl child within you?
When last did you compliment another sister, give recognition to her specialties? (Write down three women in your life you will recognize in love this week.
The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism* (1981)
Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against oppressions, personal and institutional. What is your relationship to anger? What were you taught about black womanhood and anger?
Anger is loaded with information and energy. What does your anger illustrate about your life, your experience?
How can you be creative and direct with your anger in activist spaces?
*links to these pdfs provided by Bilphena's Womanist Reading List