Recently there was a brouhaha when Raven-Symoné, the youngest star in the 1980s TV program the “Cosby Show,” said she won’t label herself by race or sexual identity. “I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay.’ I want to be labeled a human who loves humans,” she told Oprah Winfrey during a televised interview. She later added: “I’m tired of being labeled. I’m not an African-American; I’m American.”
I actually had been thinking about this topic before I saw this interview clip.
It seems to me that labeling anyone essentially minimizes the fullness that is a human being. Further, in many cases, when we label people—we use it as a means of criticism. Or to elevate one group over another, i.e. “We’re A, so we’re better than B.”
Let’s say someone labels me. They could say: Kathleen’s white; a woman; baby boomer; heterosexual; native Californian; political non-partisan; raised in Nevada; believer in ghosts; outdoorsman; and Christian who works in academia. You know what? Even though these are all accurate, they don’t give a true representation of who I really am.
I don’t want to be labeled so people can sort me into a nice, organized box.
Labeling leads to stereotypes. I’m much more complex than a list of descriptions. It’s not important what I look like or where I come from. People have stereotyped me as a hick when I’ve told them I live in Nevada. That is so wrong!
None of us are cookie cutter creations. We are all wonderfully unique individuals. And, who we were yesterday is not who we are today. We are continually evolving, as we are the results of a conglomeration of millions of decisions, experiences, relationships, ancestral roots, education and so on.
I’d love to live in a world that doesn’t seek to label people.
Raven-Symoné, thank you!