Saturday, October 22, 2011

June Jordan: speaking about the 99% and the 1% in 1995 as if it was today

portrait of June Jordan is from here
[T]he quest for white male supremacy jeopardizes most of America. And, to a horrifying extent, our common enemies need to do little more than stand aside and watch the rest of us sink into mistaken animosities. [...]

Since 1964, race has been redefined by millions and millions of new arrivals who have begged or borrowed their way onto these shores. Black and white formulations have begun to yield, as they must, to demographic facts of a multiplicity of colors, languages, and legacies, brightening our continental landscape, and our horizons. Correspondingly, our definitions of racist convictions and behavior must be re-examined--and expanded as well: Beyond white hatred for people of African descent, the push for white supremacy punishes, and hopes to extirpate, every people that is not "white" and, also, "Christian." Of course, this necessary redefinition identifies most human beings as members of a hatefully composed target population.

That's the down-side. The good news is that we, the undesirable, vastly outnumber what is, in fact, a national and international minority of dangerous, hyperactive true believers.

Since 1964, issues specific to female life have emerged from traditional invisibility and sorry realms of isolated individual pain. Difficult questions about the meaning and the purpose of female identity have surfaced from fearsome areas of our collective consciousness. And a unifying, global awareness may yet ignite into an overdue, a successful, majority crusade for our fully realized, and liberated, human being.

Sexuality has become an openly political battleground. And class considerations increasingly compel our acknowledgement and response, even while Marxist forms of analysis retain very little of their practical and/or theoretical credibility.

As a Black woman living with change and beset by continuing situations of peril, I am the same and I am different, now. For me, winning has become the point. I have known and I have seen too many people dead, absolutely dead and gone, to settle for resistance or struggle: I am working to win.

Thirty-one years ago death did not seem or feel like anything relevant or decisive. But now whenever somebody dies in spirit or in flesh, I have learned to count that as an inconsolable irreplaceable loss. I am fighting to enlighten and protect my life by joining forces with my students, my comrades, and my colleagues for the enlightenment and rescue of all sociable and tender qualities of human life everywhere.

Hatred kills people. Cruelty kills people. Greed kills people. Egomania kills people. Stupidity kills people and trees and water supplies and systems of public education.

But I have come to understand that I am not surrounded by enemies. I teach and I write and I walk and I talk among people who want what I want: Good health, safety, a fair chance at happiness, and a growing environment of friends. I am clear about this: Most folks are really okay, not demonic or heartless or closed. But then it's the powerful few--forever on camera/on microphone--the powerful few who forever keep us inaudible and unknown to each other, or else all the while they disseminate scary information.

[...] [T]here is a hideous, neo-Nazi world view loose on the land. And adherents to that hatred aim to subjugate, or exterminate, everything and everybody who is not Christian and white and male and heterosexual.     -- June Jordan, in the new introduction of her book of essays, Civil Wars, April 27, 1995

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