And certainly there are very real differences between us, of race, sex, age, sexuality, class, vision. But it is not the differences between us that tear us apart, destroying the commonalities we share. Rather, it is our refusal to examine the distortions which arise from their misnaming, and from the illegitimate usage of those differences which can be made when we do not claim them nor define them for ourselves.
Racism. The belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all oth ers and thereby the right to dominance. Ageism. Heterosexism. Elitism. These are some of the distortions created around human differences, all serving the purpose of further separation. It is a lifetime pursuit for each one of us to extract these distortions from our living at the same time as we recognize, reclaim, and define the differences upon which they are imposed, and explore what these differences can teach us about the future we must all share.
And we do not have forever. The distortions are endemic in our society, and so we pour energy needed for exposing difference into pretending these differences do not exist, thereby encouraging false and treacherous connections. Or we pretend the differences are insurmountable barriers, which encourages a voluntary isolation. Either way, we do not develop tools for using our differences as springboards for creative change within our lives.
Audre Lorde, Difference and Survival: An Address to Hunter College (x)