As with a handful of my posts, the idea for this one came from something I happened upon on Facebook. Two of my friends, posted the same article, although one was decidedly for it with the comment “This to the Nth degree…” and the other was vehemently opposed to it, commenting that “Liberals are crazy.”
Both statements are probable true.
For me, it brought up an idea that I’ve been trying desperately to promote in my writings of late, particularly the last one I did about Caitlyn Jenner. Though I feel that I finally got the point across in my own way, I was pleased to see it reinforced while talking about another woman who’s been in the media for her identity change: Rachel Dolezal.
I hadn’t been keeping up with this one as much, mostly because, since I’d just finished multiple attempts to get my point across with the Caitlyn posts, I was just plain sick and tired of the labels we use to separate one another. Nicknames and aliases are different, but we’ll get to that in a moment (Mr. West Coast brought it up…details in a bit).
This post, an OpEd piece from CNN, made the connection that I wouldn’t have thought to make comparing what this Rachel woman did to what Caitlyn Jenner did: choosing her identity though it was contrary to the identity she was born with. And it asked an important question: why do we applaud the one, but denounce the other? I liked the author’s concluding points enough that I’ve provided them here for you:
She forces us to consider whether our biology or our action is more important to identity, and should we act in ways that honor our chosen identity in meaningful ways. We should not have to be slaves to the biological definition of identity, and we should not use race or gender identities as weapons to punish one another. –Camille Gear Rich, CNN “Rachel Dolezal has a right to be black”
It’s a pretty powerful point, in my opinion. Is who you are on the outside, your skin color or your biological sex, more important than your actions and intentions?
I say “no.”
I know I’ve brought it up before, seemingly long ago, when talking about Lupita Nyong’o and an interview she did where she said that it wasn’t until she came to America that she felt the need to identify herself as black. Or when I spoke out about gentrification not really being a race issue, and I mentioned how Jamaica views themselves as one race, one culture, despite their multi-racial (by American standards) background.
If I could have one wish for this country (and the world, for that matter), it would be that we’d stop labeling ourselves to separate and segregate each other based on our exteriors, or some other relatively trivial difference.
Black or white, or some shade in between, underneath we’re all human.
Christian versus Muslim versus Jewish… they’ve fought for centuries, millenia even, although all three accept themselves to be descendants of Abraham and (what they believe to be) the one true God.
Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Asexual, or Pansexual, we all love and need love in return.
We are all just people…
Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King made his famous “I have a dream” speech, and he said then that “[he had] a dream that [his] four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
And we’re not there yet.
We hide behind labels because we want to be around people like ourselves. We find comfort in knowing that our thoughts, actions, feelings, our very being is not a singularity.
But sometimes it does more harm than good, and one day perhaps we’ll live in a world where labels won’t be necessary.
While on the topic of labels, it was brought to my attention, by Mr. West Coast, that I’m guilty of hiding–how did he put it?– “engulfed in tea steam…” Seems he took offense to some of what I said in my last post.
I suppose I don’t blame him; he didn’t appreciate it when I pointed out any of his faults when we were conversing via email, so why should he react any better when I put those faults out for the world to see?
He says that the truth of my character will be if I allow his angry, judgmental comment through, and I will not. For one thing, I’ve already wasted more time than I care to on him, for another, it’s more of the same rhetoric: him telling me my assessments were wrong, yet if I tell him his assessments of me were wrong, I’m being judgmental and “freaking out.”
But he did have a point: I did hide behind my alias on this blog. I didn’t give him my personal email, while he gave me his work email. I chose to not allow him access to that level of closeness with me until I was convinced that he was someone I trusted enough with that information.
I chose anonymity, for all the good it did me–he was able to find my LinkedIn profile in under 20 seconds he said, giving him access to my work information, and, had he asked to add me as a connection on there, it would have given him access to more personal information.
I chose anonymity so that I could be judged on the character of our conversation, not by my name or ethnic background or any other information one might gleam from a serious Google search.
I chose anonymity because I am a teacher, and there are things through this blog that probably shouldn’t be connected to who I am outside of this blog.
I chose anonymity because the labels placed on me in the real world tend to change how people view me if they’ve been exposed to my words and ideas first.
I chose anonymity so I wouldn’t be hurt.
And I refuse to be hurt by the words of someone who doesn’t know me, though he claims to from a handful of readings and because I refuse to be condescended to. There’s a difference between offering someone advice and trying to shame them for faults that one has inaccurately assessed.
For example, it seems his definition of what an “Alpha Female” is doesn’t mesh with mine. That was a comment he’d made in the last email I received, because that was why he (paraphrasing here) didn’t sugarcoat his observations, wrong though they may be. See how labels cause disappointment?
Just as he feels I have misjudged him, he has certainly misjudged me.
I look forward to a day when people can learn to actually see the person with whom they are speaking, not just the judgments from the labels they place on one another… or even the labels we place on ourselves.
I’m sick to death of labels!
For what it’s worth, Mr. West Coast, when I said I was considering a move it was because I am in a place in my life at the moment where such a thing could be possible, and I’ve been looking for some excitement, as I’d explained in a post you apparently missed, one in which I explain my thought process about a potential move and why I chose not to. How it was not for you but because of some of the things you said, plus my friends in the area. See how sometimes your observations are faulty because they are based solely on a snippet of information?