Friday, March 7, 2008

June Jordan, Victoria Mxenge, and Black Women's Struggle for a New World Aesthetic

Since I am so thoroughly involved in completing two manuscripts and teaching, and am unable to pay attention to anything beyond what is before me right now, I will share with you what my current endeavor is this morning.

One course that I teach every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Howard University is contemporary black poetry. The course was designed prior to my arrival on the faculty, so while I do have control over the content, I do not have control over the parameters, which are community and the Black Arts Movement. I have always been interested in the Black Arts Movement since I heard my mother say B.A.M. when I was a little girl in reference to my bestfriend's older sister, therefore, I make the course meet my desires to delve in depth into the movement.

Currently, my students have been assigned June Jordan's posthumously published collected edition of poems, "Directed by Desire." Our class discussion alerts me that they are not reading, but the good thing about poetry is that we can read it aloud on the spot and then analyze the poems. In reading Jordan's poem, "To Free Nelson Mandela," I have been reaquainted with the murder of Victoria Mxenge, who was an attorney in South Africa and whose husband was assassinated, arguably for his involvement in the African National Congress (ANC). Mxenge spent the rest of her life investigating her husband's death, being a political activist, and becoming a role model for younger generations. She was brutally murdered in the driveway of her home before her children. "In 1987 a Durban magistrate refused a formal inquest into Victoria Mxenge's death ruling 'she had died of head injuries and has been murdered by person or persons unknown' " ("Biography of Victoria Mxenge,"

I always contemplate the unsung sheroes in the fight for not only a New World aesthetic and consciousness, but also for the liberation of Africans, Africans of the Diaspora, and all persons who are oppressed. The struggle continues as we acquaint yet another generation of our children to the fights of our ancestors.

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