d'bi.young anitafrika
Photo: courtesy of the artist

Care for Becoming: Sisters in Motion feat. d’bi.young anitafrika

Mirna Abiad-Boyadjian
Some silences explode, other silences spread. Abyss-silence, powerlessness-silence, survival-silence, pain-silence… Silence is never neutral, and each silence carries within itself a distinct experience that cannot be reduced to mere absence of speech, language, or sound. Some silences are just, other silences are unjust. What can be done with the silence that holds us back from ourselves and others, with the lump that won’t leave the throat, with the heart that pounds in imposed muteness? What can be done with the paralysis that exhausts the body and its energy, that steals away its very ability to become?

In a talk given in Chicago on December 28, 1977, poet Audre Lorde stated that, following the discovery of a potentially malignant tumour two months earlier, she had felt compelled to examine her life through the unforgiving lens of urgency: “What I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death.”1 1 - Audre Lorde, “Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” in Sister Outsider, Essays and Speeches (New York: Random House, 1984), 41. For Lorde, the countless reasons behind women’s silence, muzzled and invisibilized as they were for so long, are rooted in the fear of visibility — visibility paradoxically being necessary to their taking back full control of their lives. That day, Lorde called upon all women to transform silence into language and action, and she emphasized the specific vulnerability of Black women, who carry the additional burden of having to fight for visibility within feminist movements.

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This article also appears in the issue 106 - Pain

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