Some of Us Did Not Die

Overview

Poet and activist June Jordan wrote her way to the forefront of political analysis, witness and moral summoning for more than half a century. These important new essays, along with work drawn from every phase of her prolific career, document her ongoing leadership and commitment in every conflicted sphere of our second millennium lives: the varieties of supremacist values and policies; the theft of democracy inside the United States; racial and gender inequality, and the arrogance that upholds all forms of ...

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Overview

Poet and activist June Jordan wrote her way to the forefront of political analysis, witness and moral summoning for more than half a century. These important new essays, along with work drawn from every phase of her prolific career, document her ongoing leadership and commitment in every conflicted sphere of our second millennium lives: the varieties of supremacist values and policies; the theft of democracy inside the United States; racial and gender inequality, and the arrogance that upholds all forms of justice. In Some of Us Did Not Die, June Jordan calls us to a faithful position of outspoken resistance and hope.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An inspiring poet, activist, Progressive columnist and UC Berkeley professor of African-American studies, Jordan died last month from breast cancer at the age of 65. Her Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint provided the ideological impetus behind myriad community-oriented poetry events and poems since its publication in the mid-1990s (a shorter essay version appears here). This book brings together 32 essays from four previous collections and eight previously uncollected recent pieces. Repeated engagements with sex and sexism, and race and racism, are matched with advocacy for legal reform ("Break the Law!") and agitation for collective responses to oppression and parsings of its language, including a seminal essay on Black English ("Nobody Mean More to Me than You"). Jordan also documents trips to Mississippi, Nicaragua and the Bahamas, and offers a still relevant assessment of the Israel-Lebanon war of 1982. New pieces include the title work, a response to September 11: "I hope we will bestir ourselves to rally around an emergency/ militant reconstruction of a secular democracy consecrated to the equality of each and every living one of us." With a steadfastness and resolute power, these essays show us a way toward that consecration. (Sept. 5) Forecast: Jordan's Soldier, an autobiography published in 2000, is in print in paperback from Basic. Kissing God Goodbye: Poems 1991-1997 (Doubleday) and the 1989 release Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems (Thunder's Mouth) are also available, along with Poetry for the People (Routledge). National tributes to Jordan from major writers should be appearing as this goes to press; they could be enlarged and displayed with Jordan's work. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
June Jordan (1936-2002) was a professor of African American studies at U.C. Berkeley, and author of 11 books of poetry, five children's books, a novel, three plays, a memoir, and five volumes of political essays. This collection of 40 essays spans Jordan's career, from the 1960s civil rights movement to the aftermath of September 11, in which she reflects on such topics as supremacist values and policies, racial and gender inequality, children and education, life and hope. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
A grab-bag of essays and verse on politics, literature, and travel. Jordan (African-American Studies/UC Berkeley; Technical Difficulties, 1992, etc.) harbors understandable rage at the stupidities and inequities of life in a fundamentally racist society in a time when things, by all rights, should have gotten better. Instead, she writes, African-Americans "have moved from The Invisible Man to The Invisible People" whose opinions and indeed whose reality scarcely come into account in matters such as elections and education. Some of the stronger pieces here, many previously published in her column in The Progressive, address the vast complex of injustice that is contemporary American life. Others, better still, address educational and cultural issues such as Black English and the overall decline in standards in schools everywhere and for all: "We have silenced or eliminated minority children. We have pacified white children into barely competent imitations of their fear-ridden parents." Still others are less pointed, including several pieces on what amount to literary enthusiasms; coupled with Jordan’s hortatory approach to politics, these give the collection the feel of a bookish pep rally at which the exclamation mark gets quite a workout: Let’s all read Walt Whitman! Let’s take it to the man! Down with ex-husbands! Many of the op-ed pieces, too, are ephemeral, so much so that readers in the not too distant future may need footnotes to find their way through them. Who, they may wonder, was O.J. Simpson, other than someone Jordan criticizes for not wanting to be seen as black, but instead as a raceless star? What was a Sandinista? And what on earth does "Sometimes I am the terrorist I mustdisarm" mean? Judicious editing would have helped. Still, of some interest to activists, and especially to educational reformers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465036929
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 7/30/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Some of Us Did Not Die 3
2 The Invisible People: An Unsolicited Report on Black Rage 16
3 A Far Stretch Well Worth the Effort 20
4 Hunting for Jews? 23
5 A Letter to Maria 32
6 Do You Do Well To Be Angry? 37
7 Update on Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Best of My Heart 44
8 Letter to My Friend 47
9 Break the Law! 55
10 A Couple of Words on Behalf of Sex (Itself) 59
11 Besting a Worst Case Scenario 63
12 Notes Toward a Model of Resistance 75
13 O. J. Simpson: Innocent of What? 83
14 Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan: One Love 86
15 Islam and the USA Today 92
16 I Am Seeking an Attitude 95
17 The Light of the Fire 102
18 Waking Up in the Middle of Some American Dreams 109
19 Requiem for the Champ 120
20 Can I Get a Witness? 125
21 A New Politics of Sexuality 131
22 For My American Family: A Belated Tribute to a Legacy of Gifted Intelligence and Guts 137
23 The Mountain and the Man Who Was Not God: An Essay on the Life and Ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 143
24 Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan 157
25 The Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry in America or Something Like a Sonnet for Phillis Wheatley 174
26 Life After Lebanon 187
27 White Tuesday: November, 1984 196
28 Nicaragua: Why I Had to Go There 199
29 Report from the Bahamas 211
30 Problems of Language in a Democratic State 223
31 Many Rivers to Cross 233
32 For the Sake of People's Poetry: Walt Whitman and the Rest of Us 242
33 Civil Wars 257
34 Where Is the Love? 268
35 Old Stories: New Lives 275
36 Notes Toward a Black Balancing of Love and Hatred 284
37 American Violence and the Holy Loving Spirit 290
38 Letter to R. Buckminster Fuller 294
39 Letter to Michael 299
40 Foreword to Civil Wars 306
Index 309
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