I was thinking about how we love our labels. It seems like humans can not survive without putting someone or something into a category. It is in our nature to learn and to evolve and with that, we have a need to classify data for storage but this is dividing us and preventing us from embracing differences.
I don’t remember when the census began in the United States (1600’s or maybe even earlier) but it was a time to gather information about every living person in the country. The requested information was things like name, age, ethnicity, marital status, highest education, occupation, relationship to head of house, etc., all grouped by location. Back in the 1600’s that level of detail helped shape some of the laws, demographics, etc. With the advances in technology, putting people and things into boxes is more challenging. Which makes me feel like maybe we should change the way we see the world.
One of the labels I identify with is African American or black American. Black because that is a label created and carried forward as another word for a person who appears to be of African Descent. I am of African Descent but Africa is a very large continent and as my DnA test revealed, I am a descendent of many African countries. Not only that, my great paternal Grandmother was Irish and I have some other cultural heritages in my blood. The African/black American label does not fit me completely. If I were really honest, I would probably check off most of those boxes as I am an ethnically diverse American and I am not the only one. There are a few cultures that still have pretty pure genes but the majority of the people in the world are ethnically diverse. In my opinion, that data is no longer valid.
But data = knowledge and the world needs to know everything. That’s why when there’s an accident on the highway, the traffic in both directions slow or halt so that everyone gets a glimpse. Not out of concern but just to gather data. Data is the path to the future but not sure the way we use it makes our future brighter. Data helps companies forecast to make more effective business decisions but not always to benefit others or society. Just like we continue to put people in boxes, it is only to help ourselves. Labels have never brought people together. They just group people, who then further break down the group into smaller labels. Curly hair isn’t just curly. There are different types within the curly category and then those types are ranked from good to bad. This takes us further away from the fact that we all have hair at the top of our heads so instead of looking at another person as they are, we analyze them and put them in a box and treat them according to that category.
My label is human and I deserve respect and loving interest. Don’t put me into a box because I was meant to be outside of societal boxes. We all need to break out of the boxes and just be who you were meant to be. Happiness starts from within and that’s difficult to achieve when you’re focused on outer boxes and unhappy with your label. Be happy!