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Balter Lecture: Myisha Cherry
March 31, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
The Misuses of Anger
Audre Lorde, Self-Hatred, and the Anger it Fuels
Feminist thinker Audre Lorde’s “Uses of Anger” is a canonical text in feminist philosophy. In the essay, first given as a speech in 1981, Lorde defends anger’s role in the fight against racism. Two years later, however, she criticizes anger in a less popular essay, “Eye to Eye.” What are we to make of this move? In this talk I argue that Lorde’s criticisms of anger are consistent with her defense of it. Indeed, her criticisms reveal an anger that is neither intrinsically or instrumentally valuable due to its relationship to self-hatred. I show that Lorde helps the oppressed who are often the target of hate understand the importance of addressing and combatting this kind of anger as a vital first step for then fully reclaiming the anti-racist kind. Instead of viewing Lorde’s solution as anger management, I read it as a form of self-empowerment that is a politically efficacious tool rather than an individualized self-help solution. Overall, I hope to demonstrate that Lorde offers increasing insights for thinking about the affective ways that oppression works and provides various affective resources to resist such oppression so that agents can thrive on their own terms.