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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 January 2020
In her 1979 touchstone address, “The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House,” Audre Lorde makes it clear that the only feminism that matters is one that includes and even centers the voices of “poor women, black and third-world women, and lesbians.” She argues that this type of representation is not a mere academic exercise, but a means of survival for women within these groups. Speaking at the Second Sex Conference in New York, Lorde also laments the lack of attention paid to the ways women can and should embrace their differences while still relying on a solidarity that she sees as foundational to creativity and liberation. Women of color have always borne the greatest share of domestic and physical labor in the United States, and thus creating this solidarity is a challenge; when workers are spread far and wide, scared of management, and just living month to month, it can be difficult to organize and unite them. In the 1970s, the Third World Women's Alliance (TWWA) took on this challenge, seeking to organize women of color economically, culturally, and politically, embodying Lorde's charge in the decade prior to her speech. One of the key methods of organizing by the TWWA was a series of original skits, many of which were performed during celebrations of International Women's Day (IWD, 8 March).
Originally Prepared for the “Mobilizing Difference” 2017 Working Group of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), and funded by the 2016 ASTR Grant for Researchers with Heavy Teaching Loads.
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33. Typescript of “National Report, Bay Area Chapter,” [12 April] 1974, Box 4, Folder 1, TWWA Records.
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35. Lorde, 27.
36. AFDC was Aid to Families with Dependent Children, which was a federal assistance program (i.e., “welfare”) for needy families that launched under the New Deal in 1935 but ended in 1996 when it was replaced by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF.
37. Typescript of Meeting Notes, 29 March 1975, Box 2, Folder 22, TWWA Records. The discussion and quotations that follow are derived from these notes.
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39. Snyder-Young, 5–6.
40. Typescript of IWD skit, 1977, Box 2, Folder 23, TWWA Records. The subsequent discussion of (and quotations in the text from) this skit are taken from this typescript.
41. Typescript of Year End Evaluation 1977, Box 3, Folder 5, TWWA Records.
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43. Year End Evaluation 1977.
44. Typescript of Meeting Notes, 29 March 1975, Box 2, Folder 22, TWWA Records.
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57. I should add that the TWWA was a strong advocate for affordable, if not free and nationalized, childcare for all women. Such a benefit would likely have boosted the numbers of women activists, given such constraints.
58. Snyder-Young, 136.
59. Springer, 12.
62. Snyder-Young, 136.
64. There were presumably men for the few male roles, although I do not currently have concrete evidence of this.
65. Lorde, 26.
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