— June Jordan Poet, essayist, playwright, feminist and bisexual activist 1936 - 2002
Context: I wanted to be strong. I never wanted to be weak again as long as I lived. I thought about my mother and her suicide and I thought about how my father could not tell whether she was dead or alive.
I wanted to get well and what I wanted to do as soon as I was strong, actually, what I wanted to do was I wanted to live my life so that people would know unmistakably that I am alive, so that when I finally die people will know the difference for sure between my living and my death.
And I thought about the idea of my mother as a good woman and I rejected that, because I don't see why it's a good thing when you give up, or when you cooperate with those who hate you or when you polish and iron and mend and endlessly mollify for the sake of the people who love the way that you kill yourself day by day silently.
And I think all of this is really about women and work. Certainly this is all about me as a woman and my life work. I mean I am not sure my mother’s suicide was something extraordinary. Perhaps most women must deal with a similar inheritance, the legacy of a woman whose death you cannot possibly pinpoint because she died so many, many times and because, even before she became my mother, the life of that woman was taken; I say it was taken away.
"Many Rivers To Cross" (1981); later published in Some of Us Did Not Die : New and Selected Essays of June Jordan (2002)