June Jordan Quotes

... the victim accommodates to power. The victim doesn't want anymore [sic] trouble.
June Jordan (b. 1936), African American poet, essayist, and social critic. On Call, ch. 4 (1985). Written in 1982.
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If we lived in a democratic state our language would have to hurtle, fly, curse, and sing, in all the common American names, all the undeniable and representative and participating voices of everybody here.
June Jordan (b. 1936), African American poet and social critic. On Call, ch. 4 (1985). Written in 1982, on schools' and other social institutions' insistence upon "standard English."
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There is a man who exists as one of the most popular objects of leadership, legislation, and quasi-literature in the history of all men.... This man, that object of attention, attack, and vast activity, cannot make himself be heard, let alone to understood. He has never been listened to.... That man is Black and alive in white America where the media of communication do not allow the delivery of his own voice, his own desires, his own rage.
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. repr. In Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (1989). "On Listening: A Good Way to Hear," Nation (New York, 1967).
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We are the wrong people of the wrong skin in the wrong continent and what in the hell is everybody being reasonable about?
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. Passion.
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In America, you can segregate the people, but the problems will travel. From slavery to equal rights, from state suppression of dissent to crime, drugs and unemployment, I can't think of a supposedly Black issue that hasn't wasted the original Black target group and then spread like measles to outlying white experience.
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. "Problems of Language in a Democratic State," Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (1982, repr. 1989).
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Lately ... Americans have begun to understand that trouble does not start somewhere on the other side of town. It seems to originate inside the absolute middle of the homemade cherry pie. In our history, the state has failed to respond to the weak.... You could be white, male, Presbyterian and heterosexual besides, but if you get fired or if you get sick tomorrow, you might as well be Black, for all the state will want to hear from you.
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. "Problems of Language in a Democratic State," Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (1989, first published 1982).
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South Africa used to seem so far away. Then it came home to me. It began to signify the meaning of white hatred here. That was what the sheets and the suits and the ties covered up, not very well. That was what the cowardly guys calling me names from their speeding truck wanted to happen to me, to all of me: to my people. That was what would happen to me if I walked around the corner into the wrong neighborhood. That was Birmingham. That was Brooklyn. That was Reagan. That was the end of reason. South Africa was how I came to understand that I am not against war; I am against losing the war.
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. "South Africa: Bringing It All Back Home," Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (written 1981, first published 1985, repr. 1989).
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If any of us hopes to survive, s/he must meet the extremity of the American female condition with immediate and political response. The thoroughly destructive and indefensible subjugation of the majority of Americans cannot continue except at the peril of the entire body politic.
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. "The Case for the Real Majority," Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (1982, repr. 1989).
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When that devil's bullet lodged itself inside the body of Martin Luther King, he had already begun an astonishing mobilization of poor, Black, white, latino Americans who had nothing to lose. They would challenge our government to eliminate exploitative, merciless, and war-mongering policies, nationwide, or else "tie up the country" through "means of civil disobedience." Dr. King intended to organize those legions into "coercive direct actions" that would make of Babylon a dysfunctional behemoth begging for relief. Is it any wonder he was killed?
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. lecture, Jan. 20, 1987, Stanford University, California. "The Mountain and the Man Who Was Not God," Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (1989).
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I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black: it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.
June Jordan (b. 1939), U.S. poet, civil rights activist. Address, 1978, to the Black Writers' Conference, Howard University. "Where Is the Love?" Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (1989).
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