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“Please rate me: Excellent. Good. Average. Poor. Thank you” (Jordan 46). Olive’s feelings about her own evaluation are unknown, but June Jordan’s Report from the Bahamas hints at the inherent desire to be rated as it relates to individual and assumed identity. Jordan responds by flipping the class distinction, “How would ‘Olive’ rate me?” (46). This thought rejects the goals of colonization, forcing and manipulating the oppressed to aspire to the lives of their colonizers. Jordan explores this idea in the beginning of this chapter, describing the agenda driven photo of a black man happily serving guests in the Sheraton British Colonial, and the name’s imperialistic undertone couldn’t be more obvious (39).

I once read a post on Tumblr, a diverse social media platform popular with millennials and chock-full of social justice. The post commented on one’s desire to be given an evaluation form after every social interaction. This parallels Olive’s evaluation form, but the identity of the human behind the post is unknown. Perhaps when people move beyond distinctions of race, class, gender, and others—which is possible with the anonymity of social media—they become more conscious with their identity and its perception rather than their standing compared to others.

However, social media comes with its own problems and Jordan definitely does not advocate for blindness, “race and class and gender remain as real as the weather.” (46). Jordan describes the photo of the black man and the encounter with the white graduate student to emphasize the very real effects of privilege and oppression. Jordan plays into respectability politics herself, both in being educated and “seeking refuge in a multinational corporation” (41).  This echoes the time I started kindergarten, when as a five-year-old I was completely willing to trade my second-generation Chinese immigrant experience for a piece of belonging in the classroom. I suffered from a colonized mind, similar to the black man in the photo but on a much smaller scale. On a similar note, I was the Olive who cared about her evaluation, what my kindergarten teacher and fellow students thought about me.

As Jordan progresses through the chapter, she moves away from describing the broad effects of privilege and oppression towards the nuances that exist within these social structures, resulting in the need to create individual connections that moves beyond “partnership in misery” (47). Jordan includes an account of her encounter with Cathy and Sokutu to illustrate the power that individual connection has over “automatic concepts of connection” (46). Jordan’s thought is, “What would she think about Cathy?” (48), further emphasizing a desire to know what others think. However, by describing Cathy as shy and drawing a sharp contrast between Cathy and Sokutu, Jordan switches the power dynamic in her mind, with Sokutu having the power to evaluate Cathy, similar to when Jordan herself wondered how Olive would rate her (48). These thoughts are quickly erased from Jordan’s mind as she realizes the Bobby Sands sticker on Cathy’s car and the genuine connection that forms between Cathy and Sokutu (49). The description of the two women as sisters exemplifies their equal status and humans and eases the racial categories they belong to if not making them irrelevant.

Cathy and Sokutu were able to form a personal connection due to their mutual desire to help and receive support. Unlike Jordan, Cathy was not preoccupied with her differences with Sokutu, and “Sokutu was flushed with relief and joy because we were there, with her” (49). Similarly, I became a humanities tutor at my high school out of a genuine aspiration to help others. Rather than simply reading and commenting on the tutees’ writing, the club allowed the tutors to develop close relationships with the tutees, enabling conversations about writing strengths and weaknesses, as well as personal goals for the assignments at hand. The fact that the majority of the tutors were Asian American was still true but became irrelevant. It wasn’t that distinctions of race, class, gender, and others disappeared, it was that making connections on a personal level allowed all of us to transcend assumed identities and learn about hidden identities, allowing for more effective tutoring.

Without thinking, we often cave into societal expectations of our visible identity within ourselves and in front of others. We feel the need to be accepted by those who have power over us, to have what they have. The solution is not to be blind to identities or to be anonymous in the case of social media. The recognition of visible identities is important to be conscious of privilege and oppression that have survived human history. Anonymity only furthers the separation of humans, preventing the human connection that is necessary to fix the disconnect that often occurs from assuming identities. As seen from the example of Cathy and me, close human interaction is often the result of having concern for others. When hidden identities come out, they combine with visible identities rather than replace them, to create an image of a fuller person. Maybe that is why June Jordan purposefully left Olive’s own feelings about her rating vague, to show the choice humans have to surpass superficial judgments towards a deeper understanding of each other.