junejordan_lyndakoolish1“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” ― June Jordan

When you are an inspired writer, you put a pen in the hands of your heart and you communicate to the world your struggle, your reason and your definition.

Such a writer was born in 1936 and her literary voice became known as June Jordan, an African American author who through her concerns for social and personal confrontations with an unequal society created an inspired language through poetry, essays and plays that made the world listen, think and reflect upon the messages she was sending. Jordan had a difficult childhood which included an almost insignificant relationship with her father. In Civil Wars: Selected Essays, 1963-80(1981), she recalls her tough childhood and family life.

“for a long while during childhood I was relatively small, short, and, in some other ways, a target for bully abuse. In fact, my father was the first regular bully in my life.”

But in her early years memories weren’t always negative reflections. She was encouraged by teachers to write and found a voice within herself in poetry. Her poetry grew to be deep and autobiographical reflecting up the experiences of being a black bisexual woman which led her to become one of the most highly acclaimed African American writers of her generation. She was fierce in her commitment and fight for human rights and wrote with a passion instilled in her words; words that conversed with the struggles she faced during her era. Although some perceive her writing as over political, she didn’t back down. Jordan was an activist who fought for civil rights, woman’s rights, sexual freedom and identity.

The Poetry Foundation describes her writing as a “display “of “a radical, globalized notion of solidarity amongst the world’s marginalized and oppressed”. In words such as Some Changes, Living Room and Talking Back to God, “Jordan uses conversational, often vernacular English to address topics ranging from family, bisexuality, political oppression, African American identity and racial inequality, and memory”. She was a soldier for expression and a hero to many who also sought the same freedoms.

Jordan’s openness as a bisexual woman was meaningful because she had to reject stereotypical views of bisexuality from both heterosexual and gay communities. She committed herself to sexual independence and felt sexual oppression was perhaps the most deeply seated form of human conflict.

“Bisexuality means I am free and I am as likely to want to love a woman as I am likely to want to love a man, and what about that? Isn’t that what freedom implies?”

Her experiences as a child also lead to Jordan’s natural concern for children which stands out in published words such as His Own Where, Victories, New Life: New Room and Kimako’s Story.

Jordan died of breast cancer in 2002.

Her spirit, strength and commitment to human equality through her literature are what make June Jordan a writer you must read before you die.

Publications by June Jordan