Righteous indignation with a hook. (from Home Coming). Let’s set the stage. Don L. Lee in the intro: “are no trees in Harlem or on the westside of Chicago. The only use/beauty she/we see in a tree, at this time in space, is the number of rifle butts it will produce.”
Homophobic Trigger [password – stanza]
She’s come a long way: “You rescued us from the tyranny of racism, sexism, homophobia, class and economic poverty . . . You. Prodigious singer. Of life and actions. And words . . .” Sonia Sanchez introduction to Audre Lorde’s A Burst of Light and Other Essays.
In those days we were caught between the Right (pinko commies) and the Left (bourgeois decadence). Why rehearse the wounds? Because in the historical record stand the judgements of critics such as Houston Baker Jr. who is called out by Kristi S. Anderson (Post-Poststructuralism: Gender, Race, Class and Literary Theory) “Rather than critiquing the obvious (hetero)sexism of the particular poems of Sanchez’ which he chooses to highlight, Baker celebrates the “heterosexual bonding and collaborative journeying” he claims they represent (334).” Her calling out is in a dissertation not circulating widely. Houston Baker Jr. does shift as did Sanchez. Here is his blurb on Marlon Riggs’s last film (Black Is… Black Ain’t): “A remarkably courageous work of art…Riggs shows us a rare type of black heroism and it is profoundly moving.” Which is now on my viewing list.
Still Sanchez’s poem has a bite. Worth remembering the conditions that led to its utterance. We use the weapons at hand. And do well to remember Lorde: the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
And so for day 2029