Don't Label Me
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Politics and Activism

Don't Label Me

Celebrate the Culture, Wipe Away the Stereotype.

Don't Label Me
Clapway blog

Before you read this, take a few minutes to watch I Am NOT Black, You are NOT White.

I want to get to the heart of what this video really means.

Race is not a biological construct. My identity is more than just my complexion. Prince Ea has created a piece of art reflective of those who suffer from cultural prejudice. As a person of color, many of my thoughts were conveyed in this video.

However, many people will distort this creative and enlightening work to say that we need to erase the labels and the culture.

I don't agree.

Culture should not be wiped away because it makes some uncomfortable and validates micro and macro aggressions against people of color. If we are to wipe away anything, wipe away what the label really is: a stereotype. Culture is history; history is necessary. In order to avoid the mistakes of the past, history needs to be protected and shared. This video made me think of my story and of every unheard story. It made me realize that I needed to start talking. So, I thought maybe if I shared what being black meant for me, people would come to understand that though I didn't choose my color, I could decide how I would present myself to the world.

The first time I realized I was black was when someone else pointed it out and mocked me for it.Hatred is taught. I didn't know I was different until someone made sure I felt like I was less than human. I was a child, but I grew up that day. I realized how the society I lived in worked and that I didn't stand on the same playing field as everyone else. I was at the bottom and it was all because I was black.

If race wasn't relevant, I would be able to get jobs based on my merit and not to fill a quota. I would be paid just as much as my peers.

There would not be groups dedicated to seeing my demise. There wouldn't be people saying I couldn't date their son because of my complexion.

I could go out without fear. I wouldn't have to ask my friends if my kind were welcome where we were going.

I wouldn't have to worry about my brother getting gunned down for wearing a hoodie. My parents wouldn't have to tell me that I have to work harder than everyone else because society doesn't favor my pigment. My achievements would be valued just like my peers.

I would feel like I'm being represented in media. I wouldn't be afraid of getting pulled over.

My goals wouldn't be considered a joke. I would feel like I'm worth something.

More often than not, my opinions are not considered. They go unheard. The worst part is knowing when I speak, somebody will always be there to tear me down. Someone will always be rooting against me and I just have to deal. When the odds are stacked against you from birth, you become dissuaded, but all's not lost.

It only takes one voice to change the conversation.

So, I refuse to remain silent. I may not shout, but my actions are loud. After years of feeling like nothing and being ashamed of my wonderful melanin, I can finally say I am so proud to be black. Not because of my skin, but of who I have become through facing prejudice.

I'm proud of my driven mother and my diligent father. I rave about my brother's accomplishments. When I look in the mirror, I love what I see. I don't see a label, a stereotype, or nothing at all. I see 21 years of growth, perseverance, and compassion. I see someone who not only survives but thrives. I finally see someone who is worth celebrating. So, no, I will not be silent. I want the world to know who am I. I want to be heard and seen.

History is necessary. Labels are not. Me celebrating my culture does not hinder your own. You stifling my voice out of fear is passive oppression. You co-opting my culture and removing me from it is active oppression. This is the real problem. My identity includes my culture and my history. Wiping that away destroys me. In order to truly stand as one people, we have to acknowledge the differences that make us unique. Embracing one's culture will only empower the individual. Until we learn to appreciate and respect each other's differences, things will not change. So, I'm doing my part and speaking up. Let me tell my story. It can only add to the tapestry that is humanity. I am Jacqueline and I am black. But, I am more than what I am called.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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