Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

June Jordan: web paper

Jessie Zong's picture

In June Jordan’s Report from the Bahamas, 1982, she demonstrates the idea of connection between people who share similarities and differences through various different interaction stories. In these short stories of interactions between different people she proposes questions like how do people really make a connection? In her short stories, she expresses issues among gender, race and class, and believes that people do not make connections based on these superficial assumptions on identities. She believes that a true connection is made based on the feeling and concern for one another, the need and trust for another person.

From my own experiences of encountering people that taught and shaped me was transitioning to a boarding school in America. Some background story, I’ve lived in China for most of my life but I was born in America. I went to international schools my whole life where most people had the same background as I do. Eighth grade I made the decision to pursue my education abroad and continued my journey to Concord Academy located in a small town, Concord, Massachusetts. Moving to boarding school abroad without my family being there with me has changed and shaped the person I am today. Moving in on the first day of orientation was terrifying. However, during that short three days of orientation, I learned a lot about making connections with people. It was hard to make a true and non superficial connection without preconceived notions of people’s identity, whether it was gender identity, race or class. It was frustrating to me that during orientation cliques of the same gender and race were made. I wanted to break the stereotypical cliques that are formed based on these identities. However, when I did try, it was hard. I can’t help but notice how differently the white girls would treat me compared to how they would treat each other in the group. They treated me like I was an alien, someone that they’ve seen before, even though I spoke perfect English. It felt like I always the outsider. Then I tried reaching out to this group of Chinese girls, but that didn’t go so well either because I didn’t share the same experiences of going to Chinese public schools, or using popular teenage Chinese slangs, I didn’t understand what they were really talking about. Again, I was the outsider. In that short three days of orientation, I kept thinking that it was me that was the problem, that maybe I wasn’t cool enough to be friends with any of those cliques, but now thinking about it that was a naive thought. The problem wasn’t me, nor was it the group of white girls or Chinese girls. The connection I was trying to make with was forced, and unnatural. 

The connections I made with some people later on, who are still some of my best friends, felt so much more comfortable and natural. Despite our differences in gender, race, or class and etc, I felt a trusting and compassion connection with them. We respected each other’s differences and honored the similarities. I think that was one of the most important lessons I’ve learned at boarding school. Now that I am in college, I understand that connections are made with an open mind and an open heart. 

 A quote that really resonated with me is from the short story of the Irish woman experiencing abuse from her husband. She wrote, “I am saying that the ultimate connection cannot be the enemy. The ultimate connection must be the need that we find between us. It is not only who you are in other words, but what we can do for each other that will determine the connection.” This quote was important to me because I believe that having that trust, need and compassion for another person is how real and genuine connections are made. However, I also understand that there are always going to be preconceived assumptions of people about their race, gender, and class, etc. The quote from Jordan is a hope that people will realize that connections comes from this genuine compassion and respect of people’s different identities and experiences, rather than having superficial assumptions on their identity and story.