As a child, I did not believe that girls like me could be represented on the printed page in any form. We could not be authors or editors. We could not even be characters.
I was so convinced of this that I believed Cho Chang was a white girl for years—after all, Harry Potter thinks of her as a “pretty girl” rather than a “pretty Asian girl,” and only the beauty of white girls are allowed to be unqualified. It was only until the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Firemovie trailer came out that I realized—jarringly, discordantly—that Cho was Asian.
Despite the vital friendship between Lorde and Rich, or perhaps because of it, both poets were able to question their own everyday practices of collusion with the very systems that oppressed them. As self-identified lesbian feminists, they openly negotiated the difficulties of their very different racial and economic realities. Stunningly, they showed us that, if you listen closely enough, language “is no longer personal,” as Rich writes in “Meditations for a Savage Child,” but stains and is stained by the political.