I know that the essence of the poem is one woman's reflection of inequality. The inequality of being a woman. The unfair mis-perception of being of color. How someone feels to have their basic humanity, their freedom, their sense of worth stripped from them by the judgement of some mere difference in characteristic of appearance.
And this poem got me. Or, maybe, I got it. Or we understood each other. The poem and I. June Jordan and I. We had something in common there. That feeling of judgement and exclusion. Of somehow being wrong without fault. Wrong without having ever tried to be wrong or not to be wrong. Yet, judged harshly so.
For what does it matter if you're socially raped because of your color, or because of your gender, or because of your sexual orientation? It says a lot about society when trans-gender people are throwing themselves in front of on-coming traffic for fear that they will never belong. It makes me sad for the state of humanity when people are misplaced, disowned, left in the city gutters of civilization because they identify with LGBTQ. Or because they believe in Buddha instead of Jesus. Or maybe neither.
Has the world forgotten that we are, indeed, all human? That is the basic, most core thing we have in common. The fact that we are all flesh and blood. We all cry when we're sad. Our brows furrow when we're angry. We all bleed when cut. That, alone, should make people see how much we do, indeed, have in common and that everything else...color, sex, orientation, belief...is merely the graffiti that colors each of our individual worlds.
But obviously, even as each generation advances in technology and science, it seems the true meaning of what it means to be alive, to be human, still evades people. There's a lot of people out there who'd rather gouge your eyes out than allow you to see them in different colored skin than yourself, or living a different lifestyle, worshiping a different God. And it's probably one of the saddest things I've observed thus far in my lifetime.
Below is an excerpt of Jordan's poem. And, like her, I'd like to just be able to feel safe walking alone into the night with my own body, my own mind:
"Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
who in the hell set things up