Everything can be used / except what is wasteful / (you will need / to remember this when you are accused of destruction).
Audre Lorde, 1981, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism”
Everything, including anger, can be used in pursuit of Black freedom. Must be used. Rage is a righteous response to injustice. Black rage is a powerful source of insight into the intolerable reality of Anti-Black racism and a guiding force toward our collective liberation. This Black History Month, the Center for Constitutional Rights honors Black rage and commits to protecting the love-fueled fury that helps us fashion the world we deserve.
In the tradition of Black revolutionaries, artists, and public intellectuals, we understand Black rage as necessary and powerful. James Baldwin’s distillation, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time,” grounds our analysis and is a damning indictment of a society founded on and committed to upholding white supremacy. Audre Lorde teaches that rage “... expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification.” To Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and to other visionary Black queer feminists, we owe our understanding of the inseparability of oppressive systems like racism, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, and ableism. Black rage is both a rejection of all forms of human hierarchy as well as a liberatory force that propels fundamental social, political, and economic transformation.
The lawyers, activists, and storytellers at the Center for Constitutional Rights root our work in both defense and support of Black rage. Our work is to protect the ability of Black people and Black-led movements to envision and reconstruct the future, and to demand reckoning and repair for the generational harms of anti-Black racism. In 1981, together with five brave Black women from Chattanooga, Tennessee, we successfully sued the Ku Klux Klan, exacting a cost for white supremacist violence and prohibiting the Klan from entering the Black community. We’ve continued to support Black communities in confronting the white supremacy that permeates our institutions by challenging racist policing and the vestiges of Jim Crow in our criminal legal system, exposing ongoing surveillance of the Black freedom movement, demanding an end to the targeting of Black migrants, and standing with the historically Black communities in Louisiana’s River parishes in their just resistance to environmental racism.
This Black History Month, we invite you to lean into rage in service of our future. Let your anger clarify the roots of injustice and restore your capacity to believe in a world lovingly transformed. Through film, oral histories, writing, and events, our public programming, Black Rage: Protecting Love, Power, and Revolution, will honor what Black rage seeks to dismantle and inspires us to build. We are weary, but we are not deterred. We will rage until there is justice and reparations for Black people. We will rage until we live in the society that Audre Lorde dared us to will into existence, one where “all our sisters can grow, where our children can love, and where the power of touching and meeting another woman’s difference and wonder will eventually transcend the need for destruction.”
Join us in staying angry until we’re free.