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A Report on ‘Slippage’ from the Bahamas

GraceNL's picture

A Report on ‘Slippage’ from the Bahamas

            In Anne Dalke’s piece “Slipping into Something More (Un)Comfortable: Untangling Identity, Unsettling Community” she discusses the idea of ‘slippage’ and how it effects the interactions and relationships between people. In her piece Dalke discusses the idea that teachers “…do not know how our students will make use of what we give them…” (Dalke Chapter II).

She talks about an incident where a confederate flag was hung by one of her former students who had taken Dalke’s “Critical Feminist Studies” class where they discussed “…the ideas of identity, intersectionality, representation, and signifying…” and how the student had most likely been using the flag as a form on identifying symbolism and had most likely not meant to offend anyone but had indeed offended many others at the College (Dalke Chapter II).

            Dalke discusses how this student ‘slipped’. From this I deduced that slippage is the relationship between someone’s intention and the results of someone’s actions or words. It is the act of doing or saying something that one does not mean to be offensive but upon reflection might not have been something one would of said or done for political, emotional, or personal reasons, that may or may not have been taken as offensive by another.

            Through this lense of ‘slippage’ I have reevaluated a couple interactions between teacher and student in June Jordan’s piece Report from the Bahamas. In her piece, Jordan talks about assumed identity verses actual identity. She discusses the idea that everyone has some sort of assumed identity created by stereotypes and societal assumptions placed on them and on others and this is the reason why people don’t take the same meaning from the same action or words. After learning of the idea of ‘slippage’ I have determined that ‘slippage’ plays an even bigger role than assumed identity as the reason for such different understandings.

            In Jordan’s piece she discusses an interaction she had with one her students. In this interaction Jordan, who is black, and her student, a white, Jewish boy, had been very close as she was advising him in an independent study project and they shared a love for each of their own languages. But their relationship became strained after an incident where the student told Jordan that he “… does not care one way or the other about currently jeopardized Federal Student Loan Programs… because they do not affect him” (Jordan 43). The student, who “…did not need financial help outside his family” accidentally offended Jordan, who’s son could not afford to go to college without the Loans or significant financial luck (Jordan 43).

            This incident caused Jordan and her student to become less connected and close even while they continued to interact. While Jordan talks about this incident through the lens of racial and class differences, after learning about the idea of ‘slippage’ I believe that ‘slippage’ played a greater role in the rising disconnect in their relationship.

            The student obviously did not mean to offend Jordan with his comment on the status of Federal Student Loans but he did. Those words while innocent and indifferent to him hurt Jordan, for they portrayed that he had no concept of the struggles Jordan held. Thus while they had once been close they were now moving apart. The student ‘slipped’.

            In her piece Jordan tells about another incident between her and a student where the student did not mean to offend Jordan but did. Jordan discusses this incident as caused mainly by race and class but I believe the greater reason to have been ‘slippage’ on part of the student. In this interaction one of Jordan’s students upon completion of reading Jordan’s political essays tells Jordan that she is so lucky to have to deal with “’Poverty. Police violence. Discrimination in general’”, for it relieves Jordan of the monotony of everyday life (Jordan 43).

            This student, believed that because she was “’…just a middle aged woman: a housewife and a mother’”, she was worth less than a person and thus did not share in the pain and suffering of the human condition that Jordan did (Jordan 43). The student, while good in her intentions, despite misunderstanding of her own standing, did not mean to offend or hurt Jordan. But Jordan was offended by this comment. The student slipped.

            ‘Slippage’ is something that I see as unavoidable in human interaction. No matter how carful a person is, ‘slipping’ is inescapable. I too have ‘slipped’ in the past. For me they did not result in bad confrontations with others but rather remorse on my part for something I said or did, no matter if any one even noticed. I have also been on the other side of ‘slipping’. I have been hurt by someone’s ‘slip’.

            In one of my tech classes in high school there was a boy who automatically assumed that I didn’t know how to use the power tools, and commented to that effect. I could tell that he truly did not mean to be rude or hurtful with his comment but he was. From my perspective he believed that I didn’t know how to use the power tools, why, because I was female. As June Jordan discusses assumed identity of me as a female played a role in this interaction but I believe that ‘slippage’ was the main reason for this confrontation. I believe that he ‘slipped’ his comment towards me.

            Like in many interactions where ‘slippage’ occurs, I was hurt. But ‘slippage’ isn’t something one can control. It isn’t something someone does on purpose. It is done completely on accident.




Dalke, Anne. "“Slipping into Something More (Un)comfortable”: Untangling Identity, Unsettling Community." Steal this Classroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2015. <>.

Jordan, June. Report from the Bahamas. N.p.: n.p., 1982. Print.