In 2020, I wrote this post about books to turn to when you’re really angry about the state of the world. In the piece, I started off with a brief listing of things going on at the time to be angry about. One issue was then-president Trump rush-appointing a new Supreme Court justice, a choice with repercussions that are now impacting us. Now more than ever, there is much to be angry about.
In her 1981 NWSA Convention keynote address, Audre Lorde said the following of rage:
“Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in all those assumptions underlining our lives.”
Lorde also spoke of being creative with our anger, and how it is loaded with information and energy. In this vein of using rage as a tool for social change, here are a few more books and resources to check out.
Burn it Down: Women Writing About Anger by Lilly Dancyger
cw: rape, transphobia, addiction, Islamophobia
In this anthology, multiple authors from diverse backgrounds, including Melissa Febos (author of Girlhood) and Evette Dionne (contributor to Can We All Be Feminists?), come together to unpack rage. From personal rage to rage about systemic issues, they explore their emotions and go as far as to question whether they have the right to express it. Writers from all over the world contributed to Burn It Down, so the perspectives are wide-ranging.
The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle by Myisha V. Cherry
In The Case for Rage, philosopher Myisha V. Cherry discusses the possible uses of anger for good. She puts Aristotle in conversation with Audre Lorde and develops what she calls Lordean Rage, which “aims for change, motivates productive action, builds resistance, and is informed by an inclusive and liberating perspective.” Although the author is academically trained and writes from a philosophical standpoint, readers have called the language of the book accessible. The Case for Rage calls for a cultivated rage that remains focused and steady.
Your Silence Will Not Protect You: Essays and Poems by Audre Lorde
cw: racism, homophobia, sexism, mental illness, rape, cancer, death, suicide
While Your Silence Will Not Protect You is not a book about rage, it is a great text to turn to when looking for the why and how to apply your rage. With an introduction and preface written by heavy-hitters Sara Ahmed and Reni Eddo-Lodge, Lorde left us a blueprint for activism in this collection. In these essays and poems, we can learn how to take our silence and convert it to language and action.