Ask me anything
Ted Kennedy Was a Hero to Most But He Never Meant Sh*t To Me
There. I said it.
Also, I don’t care if you do…no, really, it doesn’t change the way I feel about you one way or another. His life & death, when it’s all boiled down, is actually rather insignificant, if you think about it the way I do.
Let me explain, at least, before you decide to hate me.
For me, it’s about the cold calculus of human suffering; human *being*
Ted Kennedy lived to be 77 years old. He
embraced battled alchoholism & clogged arteries. So, he outlived the “average” American, despite a decidedly unhealthy lifestyle. (Maybe that’s why he proclaimed “Healthcare Reform” as the fight of his life.)
Also, Kennedy is/was *rich*. I don’t mean, like, he had a lot of money that he worked hard for. I mean, he was landed gentry rich.
Ted Kennedy’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was a savvy investor his whole life. Income from the various trust funds, real estate investments, and oil and gas leases he set up from the 1920s through the 1940s still yield income. He made most of his money, however, by purchasing retail giant Merchandise Mart in Chicago in 1945 for $12.5 million. Since then, it’s raked in hundreds of millions in revenue for the family. In 1998, the Kennedy clan decided to sell Merchandise Mart….Ted Kennedy received about $75 million….
Tax returns have yielded some insight into family funds as well. In the 1980s, Ted Kennedy’s income was shown to be about $500,000 a year. In 2007, his net worth was estimated to be as high as $163 million, based on campaign records. (slate.com)
Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear On No Stamps
The life & death of some aristocrat are of little interest to me, especially since cancer took my Amma about 6 years ago. We could barely afford to cremate her (as per her wishes) & now have to store her ashes in an old cookie jar.
She worked her whole life to make life bearable for her kids & grandkids. She had an amazing ability to stretch a meal of corned beef & cabbage, & to adapt to a changing American landscape. I’ll never forget the way that she explained Transgender Identity to my Umpa. Something so far from her life experiences, from her upbringing in Dutch Harbor, Alaska in the 1930’s, yet so full of love & genuine compassion, if not true understanding, it makes me want to weep while I write this. She is not remembered by anyone who didn’t know her personally, yet her compassion was transcendent.
& I Can’t Tell You Who In the Hell Set Things Up Like This
It took the NY Times over 3 days to publish an obituary of June Jordan. If I were to create a short list of American Heroes & Warriors, she’d be on it. Her contributions to this American life are numerous & immeasurable, and she was officially forgotten before she was taken from us.
She was the first African American Woman to publish a book of political essays. The first. She made true friend of official enemies: going to Nicaragua, to Beirut, to Palestine. For this, these acts of solidarity and compassion, the NY Times refused to publish anything written by her.
There was some bitter irony to Barack Obama pilfering one of her signature lines “We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For” while he was on the campaign trail. Though Obama popularized it as a line, June lived it as a mantra. Or better yet, a declaration of war against anyone who was against the proliferation of human life.
And yet, who knows of her? Who will light an eternal flame to this Soldier?
Finally, the issue of Katrina and the lives of the vulnerable. Kennedy’s funeral fell on the 4th anniversary of Katrina’s touchdown. The destruction of Black life in New Orleans as a result of official government policy is well-documented fact. In so many ways, Katrina was the funeral for New Orleans as we have known it. Through no fault of their own, the aged, the poor, the marginalized people of this historic city were whitewashed out of the present. They now live, if they survived, in Houston, Atlanta, Alabama, Mississipi. They now live, if they survived, as aliens in a strange land. A land that has never wanted them. They live as the true embodiment of the American Spirit.
So, instead of mourning the $163 milliondollar aristocrat, in my own small way, I’m celebrating the lives of the people who have made my life what it is today.
MollyLou Cameron. Always.
June Jordan. Always
The People of New Orleans. Always.
“…I need to speak about living room
where the land is not bullied and beaten into
I need to speak about living room
where the talk will take place in my language
I need to speak about living room
where my children will grow without horror
I need to speak about living room where the men
of my family between the ages of six and sixty-five
marched into a roundup that leads to the grave
I need to talk about living room
where I can sit without grief without wailing aloud
for my loved ones
where I must not ask where is Abu Fadi
because he will be there beside me
I need to talk about living room
because I need to talk about home
I was born a Black woman
I am become a Palestinian
against the relentless laughter of evil
there is less and less living room
and where are my loved ones?
It is time to make our way home.”
~June Jordan. From “Moving Towards Home.”
Kosovo Suite. June Jordan & Adrienne Torf. (from the album Collaboration)
“The rains fail to purify the river
The darkness does not slow
the trembling message of the tanks
hundreds of houses on fire and still
the enemies do not seek
the enemies only the ones without water
only the ones without bread”
Problems of Translation: Problems of Language
Dedicated to Myriam Díaz-Diocaretz
by June Jordan
I turn to my Rand McNally Atlas.
Europe appears right after the Map of the World.
All of Italy can be seen page 9.
Half of Chile page 29.
I take out my ruler.
In global perspective Italy
amounts to less than half an inch.
Chile measures more than an inch and a quarter
of an inch.
Chile is as long as China
Back to the Atlas:
Chunk of China page 17.
All of France page 5: As we say in New York:
Who do France and Italy know
at Rand McNally?
I see the four mountains in Chile higher
than any mountain of North America.
I see Ojos del Salado the highest.
I see Chile unequivocal as crystal thread.
I see the Atacama Desert dry in Chile more than the rest
of the world is dry.
I see Chile dissolving into water.
I do not see what keeps the blue land of Chile
out of blue water.
I do not see the hand of Pablo Neruda on the blue land.
As the plane flies flat to the trees
below five thousand miles below
my Brooklyn windows
and beside the shifted Pacific waters
welled away from the Atlantic at Cape Horn
La Isla Negra that is not an island La
that is not black
is stone and stone of Chile
feeding clouds to color
scale and undertake terrestrial forms
of everything unspeakable
In your country
how do you say copper
for my country?
Blood rising under the Andes and above
the Andes blood
spilling down the rock
corrupted by the amorality
of so much space
that leaves such little trace of blood
rising to the irritated skin the face
of the confession far
I confess I did not resist interrogation.
I confess that by the next day I was no longer sure
of my identity.
I confess I knew the hunger.
I confess I saw the guns.
I confess I was afraid.
I confess I did not die.
What you Americans call a boycott
of the junta?
Who will that feed?
Not just the message but the sound.
Early morning now and I remember
corriendo a la madrugada from a different
I remember from the difficulties of the talk
athwart the wine the dinner and the dancing
meant to welcome you
you did not understand the commonplace expression
of my heart:
the truth is in the life
la verdad de la vida
do you say la mañanita?
But then we lose
the idea of the sky uncurling to the light:
Early morning and I do not think we lose:”
the rose we left behind
broken to a glass of water on the table
at the restaurant stands
por la mañanita
June Jordan, “Problems of Translation: Problems of Language” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust. Used by permission of The June M. Jordan Literary Trust, www.junejordan.com.
Source: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (2005)