In the midst of the (inter)national excitement at our election of Barack Obama, one of the great leaders of The People has passed. To Miriam Makeba, all praises due. She is one of the true revolutionaries of the last century, fighting with body, soul and song. She and June Jordan share so much...I wonder if they ever met.
In thinking of the connections between these two women, it's appropriate to use the "Soweto Blues" video, which starts off with the banning of languages. June was passionate about language, and organized in Oakland to get Black English recognized and taught in schools. Well before that, she wrote "Nobody Mean More to Me Than You' and The Future Life of Willie Jordan'" in which she laid out the foundations for the language. Her "Poem for South African Women" also rings loudly when I consider the connections between her and Makeba, as well as the prospects for a just future:
POEM FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN
Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world
The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire
And the babies cease alarm as mothers
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open eye
And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
even under the sea:
we are the ones we have been waiting for.
from Passion: New Poems, 1977-80, by June Jordan
copyright 1980 June Jordan
reprinted with permission of the June M. Jordan Literary Estate Trust
OBAMA & THE REST OF US
Obama lifted the last line of that poem, without attribution, in one of his speeches. I guess it's a tribute to the beauty of the poem that a line can embed itself in the vernacular, but I'm still a little upset that she wasn't credited. This all leads me into some thoughts about the administration he'll be appointing. Last week I mentioned the Rahm Emmanuel represents a clear move away from us, the People, and our interests. And tonight on 60 minutes our President-elect said that he'd be appointing at least one Republican to the cabinet. Again, a shift away from us, though not terribly surprising.
As it turns out, some other folks have been putting in some thought on this, too. Check out the articles below, one from Naomi Klein, and the other from the Black Agenda Report.
NAOMI KLEIN: FIRST THINGS FIRST
Naomi Klein argues that the most important thing to do is to stop the corporate thugs from taking our taxes while rewriting the laws to pay themselves off:
It’s not too late to halt the robbery in progress, but it cannot wait until inauguration. Several great initiatives to shift the nature of the bailout are already underway, including bailoutmainstreet.com. I added my name to the “Call to Action: Time for a 21st Century Green America” and invite you to do the same.
Stopping the bailout profiteers is about more than money. It is about democracy. Specifically, it is about whether Americans will be able to afford the change they have just voted for so conclusively.
BLACK AGENDA REPORT: HOLDING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE
Bruce Dixon explains why Rahm Emmanuel is poisonous, and why OUR antidote is the Employee Free Choice Act.
Representative John Conyers has promised to pursue impeachment hearings against Bush. Check it out!
SPORTS NEWS ROUNDUP
Thank gawd for E:60, ESPN's international sports documentary series. The most recent segment is about a soccer academy in Ghana (another shout out to Mama Afrika, who was married to Kwame Ture and lived there, I believe). Hungry for a Better Life documents how so many young kids use sports as a last vestige of hope. For good or ill, here it is.
So, there you have it friends! Thanks for all your feedback!