Where (say it)
Are we going? — Jasper, 1998
The repetitions of three “Where” here are definitely noticeable. Even without putting them in the context, they by themselves express a strong feeling of uncertainty and anxiety from one who keeps going but doesn’t know the destination. The question “Where are we going” itself implies passivity: the one who lead the way couldn’t ask this question. It must be someone that passively follows the group that asks this kind of question. The words in the parentheses are also revealing. “(say it)” here gives me a feeling that the author maybe once fails to speak out this question in the real life, and it is a question that is hard to ask. Accordingly, “(louder)” shows that even if someone is brave enough to speak out, their voices are still not loud enough to be heard. “(louder)” here, contradicting the word “quiet” that shows up repeatedly in previous lines, shows the author’s strong will that doesn’t want to keep silent and be represented.
When I consider these words in their context, they are the emotional apex of the section, even of the entire poem. In section 2. There are a lot of hints that “I” in the poem is on the road that “I” am not willing to go, that “I” am following others, with a “smile” on face but feel loss inside. Given Jones’s identity as an African American Gay, it reminds me of what Dennis said in the interview as an Asian American gay “there’s such a societal instinct to try to act white, to act straight, or to act gay”(15). As Gloria Anzaldua said in her letter to 3rd world women writers that “we cannot allow ourselves to be tokenized. We must make our own writing.” (168), the author also says in this poem that he doesn’t want to just follow the “white men” and he wants to speak out his own voice.