June Millicent Jordan was a writer, activist and educator that made large contributions in her community to inspire political activism. Jordan passed away at the age of 65 in 2002 after fighting cancer for 10 years. Jordan made contributions to academic knowledge, education and social justice throughout her career as a writer and educator. In this essay, we will discuss the contributions made by Jordan, how she has influenced myself as an educator and how I will incorporate her teachings into my own classroom. To Begin, Jordan was born on July 9th, 1936 in Harlem, New York. She passed away on June 14th 2002 after a long struggle with breast cancer. Before she passed away Jordan published over twenty- seven books. Her parents Granville and Mildred Jordan were both immigrants to the United States from Jamaica and Panama.
Although Jordan’s roots in Caribbean and African American communities, she often found herself making her way through institutions and situations within society that were dominated by Non-Black cultural influences. Jordan was beat by her father as a child and later married a white man, Michael Meyer. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce because of prejudices within society due to their interracial marriage. Jordan was famous for her speeches, recordings, poems, essays and commitment to universal justice. Jordan was called a ‘tough girl” because of her persistent examination of the physical and psychological damage brought by the isms that poison the United States. She was one of the most productive black women writers of the twentieth century and was known for her devotion to human rights and political activism. She contributed to the global discourse on race, colour, class, gender and to an improved understanding of the politics of language and experience. Jordan spoke against injustices, from the violent acts upheld on Black and Puerto Rican youth in New York City to the marginalization of black women in political movements. Jordan shared many of the same goals as the Black Arts Movement which strives to give value to black experience and black culture.
On the other hand, Jordan also critiqued the Black Arts Movement from a feminist standpoint. Jordan critiques the ways that powerful male speakers assume they know what black women would say or do in a situation and how this assumption silences many different perspectives that women would bring forward. Jordan in the 1970’s began to write about more international issues after the failure of the “Afro- Americans Against the Famine” movement. Jordan focused her essays on the misrepresented and silenced people in society to attempt to redirect power. Jordan ensured that when she spoke or wrote about a topic or issue that it was clear to the audience that it was her speaking. She wanted people to see her point of view from her experiences to add an anecdotal quality but left it to her audience to believe her or not. Jordan was a Professor at many colleges and Universities in the United States and was most recently at the University of California at Berkeley where she was a professor of African Studies. She worked with many students and carried her passion of writing and social consciousness through the classroom and into the hearts of her students. Jordan would bring up discussions such as; children dying of hunger in the United States and religion as a cloak for oppression and encouraged her students to pick up the conversation. Today, her students teach with the same passion that she had when she taught them. Jordan to this day is studied and praised for her commitment to her career as a writer, educator and Activist for African Americans and other individuals who are oppressed within communities. I, Elizabeth Miranda am a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical, middle-class, cis-gender, female. I am unable to completely understand Jordan’s position throughout her life because she struggled with racism due to being African American. I, being a White-European individual, do not deal with racism on an everyday basis.
Based on most of my intersectionalities, I do not deal with discrimination or the isms on a regular basis other than being female and dealing with sexism. I am aware that many individuals including June Jordan struggle/struggled with some/many isms on a regular basis. By learning about these individuals and their experiences I can become an advocate for them and ensure that I teach those around me, especially my students, about the isms and their dangerous effects on individuals within our communities. As a future educator I will create a safe classroom where my students can speak about and voice their opinions or experiences on topics such as the ones that Jordan advocated for. Jordan spoke against injustices within society and as an educator I think it is very important that my students come to see and understand these injustices within society. They can then act against them and take a look at their own prejudices and their behaviours or views towards marginalized communities. I would like to approach teaching my students about these injustices within society with the gradual release model. I will demonstrate to my students how to research a topic and critically analyze it and over time get my students to independently do this until they become confident enough to have educated conversations with one another on different social issues. This would push students to become critical thinkers, give students a safe space to speak up and allow students to decide what they believe rather than always believing what they see or hear over mainstream media. To conclude, Jordan made a great deal of contributions as an activist but also as an educator who forwarded her passion of writing and activism to her students. As a future educator, I hope that I can expose my students to these important issues within society around marginalized and oppressed groups so that they can be aware of these issues and fight against them.
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