Research Essay


English 110


June Jordan on Black Rage

“Black Rage”.A seemingly familiar phrase, A phrase so Deceitfully familiar you probably think you’d know what it means at a glance. The phrase seems simple to understand two commonly used words in media put together. You may have seen the word in headlines before or you may have elsewhere in articles or books, Almost always used as a buzzword to grab your attention followed by an exaggerated verb to make you curios.Lines like”Black Rage Erupts in brooklyn after violent shooting”.or ”black rage simmers in detroit after protest gone wrong” are examples of this.The definition you would naturally come up would probably be something along the lines of a group of black people being mad or outraged because of a specific event. And that definition would be correct. The example you’d come across would most likely use the phrase as simply that. A word used to describe the anger in a group of black people. But that’s a simpler and commonly misused definition of the phrase.

 To understand the misuse of “black rage,”you have to understand its historical origins. The term emerged as a response to the prolonged oppression and brutality faced by Black individuals throughout history. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s brought attention to the justified anger and frustration resulting from systemic racism. However, the term has since evolved, sometimes being inaccurately applied to dismiss or undermine the struggles of black people in america.The term “black rage” holds a complex position in discussions of racial dynamics, often misused and misunderstood. This essay delves into the misapplications of “black rage” while examining the experienced and insightful views of June Jordan, a well renowned African American poet  and activist renowned for her unique stance on racial issues and Beverly Stoute an author and psychiatrist.The historical roots of “black rage” lie in the  response to systemic racism, especially during the Civil Rights Movement Beverly Stoute agrees with this sentiment stating black rage “Is a functional adaptation for oppressed people of color who suffer racial trauma and racial degradation, an adaptation that can be mobilized for the purpose of defense or psychic growth”. However, its evolution has been distorted over time, leading to misuses that oversimplify the many complicated emotions within the Black community. This distortion holds back other communities from a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by Black individuals.

One prevalent misuse involves reducing “black rage” to a stereotype, oversimplifying the diversity of emotions within the Black community. June Jordan challenges this oversimplification, stating, “I am not a victim. I refuse the victimization. I will not be a victim of anything.” Jordan’s words underscore the importance of acknowledging the multifaceted nature of Black experiences rather than subscribing to harmful generalizations.

June Jordan offered a distinctive perspective on “black rage,” viewing it not merely as a reaction but as a force for change. She stated, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” For Jordan, black rage was a force that, when used, could drive activism and propel movements for social justice. Her vision challenges the negative connotations associated with “black rage,” positioning it as a starting point for positive transformation, upbringing and significant change in the black community.

The term “black rage” has been exploited for political gains, diverting attention from systemic issues and undermining legitimate protests against racial injustice. Jordan not only acknowledged this but expressed her outrage.”All four of these African Americans share a raging and a sorrow at the discount of our people. We have moved from The Invisible Man to The Invisible People. It’s raging and sorrowful at the terrible meaning of that discount-for us, and for democracy itself.” Expressing her disdain for the ignorance of the government and they misuse the word to push narrative and silence the community itself . This Ignorance creates harmful narratives and progress toward change. Jordan’s words echo the need to resist such manipulation, emphasizing the importance of genuine activism: “I will not be used. I will not be used, my anger will not be used.”

To counter the misuse of “black rage,” society must prioritize empathy and understanding. Jordan’s call for action is clear: “You have got to be involved with the reality of the world, not just your own life.” By dismantling stereotypes, acknowledging diverse emotions within the Black community, and heeding Jordan’s lessons, society can foster a more accurate and constructive discourse.

In conclusion, the term “black rage” is frequently misused, hindering a clear understanding of the emotions within the Black community. June Jordan’s vision provides a strong perspective, urging us to view “black rage” not as a problem but as a force for activism and positive change. By addressing stereotypes, avoiding political exploitation, and embracing empathy, society can engage in a more accurate and constructive dialogue on the challenges faced by the Black community.

Lauryn Hill – Black Rage

  Work Cited 

Jordan, June. Some of Us did Not Die: New and Selected Essays of June Jordan. Basic Books, New York, NY, 2002. Alexander Street,

Stoute, B. J. (2021). Black Rage: The Psychic Adaptation to the Trauma of Oppression. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 69(2), 259-290.