A report by Helen Holmes for The Observer.
Audre Lorde, an incredibly prominent Black feminist thinker, poet, professor and lesbian, was so enamored with poetry when she was a little girl that when she was asked how she was feeling, she would often recite a poem she had memorized in response. Lorde, who went on to influence generations of readers with books like New York Head Shop and Museum, Cables to Rage and The First Cities, was a virtuoso in the essay format as well as poetically, and is the subject of today’s Google Doodle. Perhaps most vitally, her essay “The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House” gave her admirers a much-needed linguistic guide to addressing some of society’s most critical problems.
The Google Doodle, which was illustrated by guest artist Monica Ahanonu, depicts Lorde surrounded by ephemera related to her work: books, a pen and paper and a microphone. “When people see this Doodle, I hope that they feel seen and heard and empowered,” Ahanonu said in a video made by Google. The Doodle also centers some of Lorde’s essential quotes, including “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives,” and “Our struggles are particular, but we are not alone.” One of the most prescient choices Lorde made as a public figure was to describe herself as a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet;” this authoritative statement of strength and self-possession has inspired countless others to own themselves in much the same way.
Lorde’s literary accomplishments certainly transcended the realm of awards, but nevertheless, she was given the American Book Award in 1989, and was later named the poet laureate of New York via the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit in 1991. Although Lorde passed away in 1992 after grappling with breast cancer, her words and actions continue to resonate long after her death.