Monday, April 26, 2010

june jordan throwbacks

from "white english/black english: the politics of translation," 1972 in civil wars:

"I am one among a growing number of Black poets and writers dedicated to the preservation of Black language within our lives, and dedicated to the health of our children as they prepare themselves for life within this standard, white America which has despised even our speech and our prayers and our love. As long as we shall survive, Black, in white America, we, and our children, require and deserve the power of Black language, Black history, Black literature, as well as the power of standard English, standard history, and standard literature. To the extent that Black survival fails on these terms, it will be a political failure: it will be the result of our not recognizing and not revolting against the political use of language, to extinguish the people we want to be and the people we have been. Politics is power. Language is political. And language, its reward, currency, punishment, and/or eradication--is political in its meaning and in its consequence."

bed-stuy's standard for a poet-activist gets her shine on.

here's the bangin audio of "A Poem about Intelligence for My Brothers and Sisters"

A Poem about Intelligence for My Brothers and Sisters

A few years back and they told me Black
means a hole where other folks
got brain/it was like the cells in the heads
of Black children was out to every hour on the hour naps
Scientists called the phenomenon the Notorious
Jensen Lapse, remember?
Anyway I was thinking
about how to devise
a test for the wise
like a Stanford-Binet
for the C.I.A.
you know?
Take Einstein
being the most the unquestionable the outstanding
the maximal mind of the century
And I’m struggling against this lapse leftover
from my Black childhood to fathom why
anybody should say so:
E=mc squared?
I try that on this old lady live on my block:
She sweeping away Saturday night from the stoop
and mad as can be because some absolute
jackass have left a kingsize mattress where
she have to sweep around it stains and all she
don’t want to know nothing about in the first place
“Mrs. Johnson!” I say, leaning on the gate
between us: “What you think about somebody come up
with an E equals M C 2?
“How you doin,” she answer me, sideways, like she don’t
want to let on she know I ain’
combed my hair yet and here it is
Sunday morning but still I have the nerve
to be bothering serious work with these crazy
questions about
E equals what you say again, dear?”
Then I tell her, “Well
also this same guy? I think
he was undisputed Father of the Atom Bomb!”
“That right.” She mumbles or grumbles, not too politely
“And dint remember to wear socks when he put on
his shoes!” I add on (getting desperate)
at which point Mrs. Johnson take herself and her broom
a very big step down the stoop away from me
“And never did nothing for nobody in particular
lessen it was a committee
used to say, ‘What time is it?’
you’d say, ‘Six o’clock.’
he’d say, ‘Day or night?’
and he never made nobody a cup a tea
in his whole brilliant life!
[my voice rises slightly]
he dint never boogie neither: never!”

“Well,” say Mrs. Johnson, “Well, honey,
I do guess
that’s genius for you.”

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