June Jordan

ArtifactExcerpt of The Talking Back of Miss Valentine Jones: Poem Number One by June Jordan

Sweet My Jesus ain but one can
and we not thru the afternoon
and now
you (temporarily) shownup with a thing
you says’ a poem and you
call it
“Will the Real Miss Black America Standup?”

guilt po’ mouth
about duty beauties of my
boozeup doozies about
never mind
cause love is blind

And the very next bodacious Blackman
call me queen
because my life ain shit
because (in any case) he ain been here to share it
with me
(dish for dish and do for do and
dream for dream)
I’m gone scream him out my house
cause what I wanted was
to braid my hair/bathe and bedeck my
self so fully be-
cause what I wanted was
your love
not pity
cause what I wanted was
your love
your love

Identification: This poem was from Jordan’s book Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems, which was published in 1989 and in the post-Civil Rights era for the African-American community. Naming Our Destiny was the fourth book published by Jordan. She had seven books in all. This poem discusses many things, but centers around a black woman’s numerous dreams and how it’s often sacrificed through the hardships of life. While she’d like to be traveling and fulfilling her fantasies, she’s sorting laundry, trying to keep young boys from dying, and rejecting patronizing men instead. It’s a harsh wake up and hard look at the hardships and relationships in the black community.

Annotation: June Jordan is a bisexual black woman from New York. Unlike the other poems discussed in this archive, I wanted to primarily elevate her racial experiences, as I believe those can help illuminate how it interacts with her queer experiences. This overlap of identities is important when considering her take on love and life. Not only is she dealing with the hardships associated with being a woman and being a queer person, she’s dealing with the struggles within the black community. White privilege, male privilege, and heteronormative privilege are all working against her. Her discussion of “the real miss black America” and craving love over pity shapes her take on relationships. Just as I’ve discussed how gender identity must be taken into account when considering sexual orientation, so should race and privilege, lest our take on LGBTQ poetry lack intersectionality.


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