Audre Lorde: Lesson Plan

Mosaic supplements its print issues with lesson plans developed for high school educators. Each demonstrates how Mosaic’s content can help empower educators to use books, writing, and reading to engage students. The lesson plans supplement most issues of Mosaic. Click here to download.

Designed by Eisa Nefetari Ulen

Audre Lorde (1934 – 1992) described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” A champion for the liberation of all dispossessed people, Lorde concentrated her activism in the struggle for freedom for Black lesbians. Her poetry has impacted the lives of countless diverse people around the world, enabling active readers of her work to move closer to their own personal freedom.

Lorde’s work is important because it is art; it is also important because it is activism. This dual power is consistent with the work of Black women writers globally. Literary fiction and poetry generated by Black women contributes great beauty to the canon, while simultaneously developing Black feminist theory. These lesson plans aim to introduce young minds to this power – the power of Lorde’s work because it is elegant and beautiful, and the power of Lorde’s work because it is a substantive contribution to the way we think about Black womanhood.

To accomplish this learning, these lesson plans utilize selected essays from Lorde’s 1984 collection, Sister Outsider, and aim to support a deeper understanding of Lorde’s prose. Within each lesson, there are opportunities to read and analyze selected poems by Lorde. Teachers are encouraged to read Lorde’s The Black Unicorn, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, and The Cancer Journals to better appreciate Lorde’s great ability to write both poetry and prose.

Lorde worked as a freedom writer to dismantle homophobia, racism, classism, and sexism. She also famously said, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The hope is these lesson plans will help give a new generation of learners the experience, information, and inspired vision to build their own houses.


I. Foreword to Sister Outsider

A. Topics for Discussion
1. Define the word paradox. Let’s go around the room and see if we can use the word in a sentence that also uses the word homophobia, lesbian, Black, or the term LGBTQ. For example, “She worked hard in the cause for Black freedom, but she felt marginalized when she told members of the group that she was a lesbian; and, in a similar paradox, when she worked hard in the cause for LGBTQ freedom, she felt marginalized because she wasn’t white.

2. Define the word sister. Now, define the same word using different spellings, like sistah, sistuh, and sista. What do the different spellings of sister mean to you? What are the feelings or connotations associated with the different spellings of sister?

3. Define the word outsider. What does it feel like to be outside? Now, think about different uses of the term out, like out in terms of sexual orientation, out of doors, out of the norm, or out of control. Think also about different used of side, like sidelines, sideswiped, and taking sides. What does each word in the compound word outside mean? What does the compound word mean when those two smaller words are joined together? What are the connotations associated with being an outsider?

B. Short Writing Idea
What are your expectations for this book after reading Audre Lorde’s foreward? Are you feeling confused or clear about what to expect from this collection of essays? Are you feeling eager or reluctant to read the essays in this collection? Write a writing journal entry that explains how the foreward to Sister Outsider makes you feel about the book. As you write, you may also want to think about the title of the book.