Zami Lifestyle in Audre Lorde’s Book

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“In the biomythography, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by Audre Lorde, explores Zami through the themes of gender, race and sexuality. Zami is a lesbian woman who have affairs with different woman but she is discovers her sexuality through both genders. As she grows up, she is learning about racism since her mother uneducated her about it and patriarchy during her time. Zami addressed her life journey from when she was little to growing up as a african american woman.

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This memoir shows Lorde journey throughout her life which includes her struggles and ideals. Lorde shows the reader how her journey about life gave her the ability to find herself. Lorde was the minority in every group and because of this it was hard for her to find herself.

In Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde, Lorde had been faced with with racial issue known as the Jim Crow Era. As she was young, she was faced with racism due to being black and so as her father. Her mother was light skinned so she would get a passed for being white. She took the trait from her father and experienced her first racism while in New York. Lorde showed the readers how she experienced racism at a young age, it stated, “ She had divided the class into two groups, the Fairies and the Brownies. In this day of heightened sensitivity to racism and color usage, I don’t have to tell you which were the good students and which were the baddies”(27). Lorde environment shows how racism was taken apart. During her time it was segregation and they would see the light colored people as good while the dark colored people as bad. But as she gotten older, Lorde was confronted with racism. She had better knowledge of racial oppression of society. As she stated, “But in high school, my real sisters were strangers; my teachers were racists; and my friends were that color I was never supposed to trust” (81). At that time, Lorde had experienced racism with her teachers, peers and friends and noticed the struggle of a african american person.

Continuously, the reason why Lorde doesn’t know much about “rules of racism” is because her mother didn’t want her to know about it so tried to keep her uneducated about the oppression of racism. This is why Lorde and her mother has a rocky relationship between each other. Her mother was protecting the struggles as she was younger now she has to face them when she gotten older. In the book, it states, “ My mother and father believed that they could best protect their children from the realities of race in america and the fact of american racism by never giving them name, much less discussing their nature” (69). In the beginning of the book, Lorde had mentioned that her mother was “different” and got treated differently from her and her father. Her mother didn’t played a motherly role and didn’t show affection towards them. However, as Lorde portrayed her mother as evil woman, this shows the readers how she is very protective over her daughter. Lorde had discovered racism through her own experiences and oppression through discrimination. Racism played a big factor in Lorde life. Racism had affected the way she lived and reacted to her environment. As she realized her journey through racism was different from her and her community, it influenced her views on how her journey was different from the other woman she had met.

Furthermore, Lorde had experienced gender oppression at a young age also. Lorde mother always taught her to ignore the things that involve white people so she won’t get hurt. However, she didn’t figured out her self-identity until she tried running for class president. In the novel, it states, “The first rude awakening came when she announced that the boy chosen would be president, but the girl would only be vice president. Why not the other way around?”(63).Lorde had been confronted by sexism when they had chosen a boy to be the class president due to her being a girl. She had questioned why would this happened but accepted it how it was. This shows readers how male dominant patriarchal views shaped the country. Lorde identity was unique in the civil rights movement, however, it took place during time where men ruled over women and had the “say so” in situations. Lorde had citized the civil rights movement and the rights given to African American due to not acknowledging women and looking over the struggles as a black women.

In Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Lorde portrays sexism through sexual assault. At a young age, Lorde was raped by a boy. In the text, it states, “because a boy from school much bigger than me had invited me up to the roof on my way home from the library and then threatened to break my glasses if I didn’t let him stick his “thing” between my legs”(75). Also, she became friends with this girl name Gennie who was molested by her father. This shows portrays violence through sexism that Lorde faces throughout her journey. This form of sexism is unique to woman experiences and sexism plays a major role in domination. Lorde shows the readers that identifying as a women is how her journey is different and unique from man.

Also in Lorde journey, she is confronted with the issue of her sexuality as a lesbian. In society, they don’ recognized the LGBTQ community. People in the LGBTQ community faced oppression and has unique identity but often not acknowledge due to religious beliefs and forbidden it’s acts. Lorde stated, “ I have always wanted to be both man and woman, to incorporate the strongest and richest parts of my mother and father within/into me- to share valleys and mountains upon my body the way the earth does in hills and peaks”(7). The prologue gives the readers insight on her sexuality. In the beginning of the novel, Lorde gave insight on her desire affectionate for women. It started off when she had met this little white girl waiting on the steps for her mother to get dressed. Lorde and the girl was playing around until she starts to undress her with excitement until her mother stopped it. Another example of Lorde discovering her sexuality is when she didn’t enjoy the sex with her first boyfriend. Even though her friends told her she would get used to it, it never satisfied her.

Later, that summer, she decides to drop out of college and put a label on her as a lesbian. In the text, it states, “That summer I decided that I was definitely going to have an affair with a woman-in just those words”(119). From there, she goes to tell her experiences with woman sexually and compassionate. LGBTQ was a difficult topic to discuss but Lorde discussed the topic to show how people didn’t acknowledge it and the struggle for those who identify themselves in that community. Lorde sexuality had impacted her life as an black women due to being in the LGBTQ community, surrounding herself with homophobia that doesn’t acknowledge that part of her identity. This shows how society only preaches and acknowledge things that are morally correct. Later, Lorde discovered how identity brings more struggles in her life, she states, “It was hard enough to be Black, to be Black and female, to be Black, female and gay”(224). She realizes that her being black and gay are different from being white and gay and white people don’t have many struggles as she does due to their race. She grew up with a lot against her before even introducing herself to others.

To conclude, Lorde shows readers the ability to find herself through race, gender and sexuality. The theme of racism is shown throughout the book and is important because Lorde never experience racism until she gotten older due to her mom not teaching her about it. Lorde faces additional struggles with her being black and lesbian. Lorde sexuality gave her unique identity. She finds her identity through both men and women. During her time, she had to deal with patriarchy and would struggle much for her being a women. All of this shows how lorde faces many issues as becoming a woman and her sexuality. Even though this made her who she was, this shows how she acknowledged her struggles and had to face the issues in living in a white patriarchy area.”

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Zami Lifestyle in Audre Lorde's Book. (2021, May 27). Retrieved from