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  • Sahar Abdulaziz

THE POWER OF LABELS


Labels are a tricky and sometimes nasty, nasty business. Encompassing many facets of self-definition. Titles can be considered a form of labels as are anything used to describe someone else. Some are harmless, as in, “Hey, look at that tall lady smoking that cigar. Yeah, the one with the long white hair in the red sweater,” or “That little rotten bratty kid just kicked me!” Labels merely used for purposes of description, clarification.

Some labels are meant as an honor, rank, earned position within the working or academic environment.

“Oh look, isn’t that the Boss who just barfed up his lunch in that garbage can?”

“Where’s Myrtle? As CEO, I need her to sign off on these invoices.”

“Ladies and Gentleman, I give you our prestigious Student President of TurtleTan College.”

Some are necessary personal tags like Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie, Pop-Pop, Nana, brother sister… friend… and even foe.

However, we are a society of labels -masked as titles or innocuous descriptions aren’t we? Used all the time. Some labels are meant to be inclusive, but the vast majority is certainly not. Their primary purpose is to be exclusive. Bantered about to make those who are different, the other, stay that way, - Permanently on the outside looking in. Never belonging. Not part of the group, and, therefore, easy to ignore, to disqualify, to erase. Perpetually placed in the uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous positions of fighting to belong, to co-exist, -to have a damn fair shake at achievement... only to have new and inventive hurdles shoved in their path. Doors slammed in their face or a more tenacious sneaky glass ceiling installed, all for the benefit of omission.

These vicious and divisive labels sting, causing untold and unnecessary pain for individuals’ generation after generation. Leaving large groups of people marginalized. Worse, -mocked, attacked, refuted and demoralized.

Healthy self-worth and self-esteem be damned. Labels are the Hallmark of a society hell-bent on destroying their own people. Slapping tags sufficiently enough to relegate whole groups of individuals to empty emotional wastelands.

Crafty cunning labels spun and intertwined by shrewd mavericks, spewing political rhetoric with the clear intent of signaling their co-running scared like-minds that, If we want to continue to own our place, our power at the top, we had better make sure #Label understands their place.

They veil their attacks behind religious posturing or nationalistic claptrap; swinging the pendulum of moral antipathy, while all along caustically aiming for those who dare imagine that they too should have the indelible right to share this space with dignity.

Preposterous! They scream from the rafters.

Build walls! They bellow from their podiums.

What will be next? Moats filled with alligators? Electric fences? Cattle prongs and fairy dust?

I ask you, how is it possible that hate speech can cloak so easily as political discourse? With followers in sheep clothing providing ample cover and excuse.

The American people are just so tired of this or that- so when our candidate says those horrible and despicable things, I don’t care, as long as my position at the top is secured, and as long as the America I envision- exists again for only MY ILK and ME.

“Make America Great Again!” -But for whom exactly? From what specific period of our annals of time are these pontificators referring to? What part of our COLLECTIVE history were we as a nation so darn tooting great in the eyesight of ALL our citizens and not just a select entitled few?

For goodness sake, do we hear ourselves? Do we see what we are becoming? And more importantly, are we actually ready for the consequences?

Has bigotry and racism become so commonplace, so socially acceptable that hate speech is now assumed to be -Dare I say it -Normal? Are we that far gone? That morally corrupt? That pathetic? Has half the electorate allowed hate to win by a landslide?

Am I saying we can’t become great? Of course I’m not implying that so don't be ridiculous, -but to do that we must live up to all the ideals we have set forth. Instill worth is all of our people. Build lives instead of tearing them to pieces.

Do we have great people in our country? We most certainly do. We are land filled to the brim with those on the cutting edge of excellence every single second of every single day, but please realize that we- as a Nation won’t achieve any worthy lasting goals as long as we continue to allow ourselves to stand divided or to be manipulated by hate and evilness.

Not until We, The American People stand up to the corruption sweeping our nation.

Not until we cast aside diabolical hate-mongers on the frightening verge of achieving their imperfect success and our total ruin.

And not until we own up to our deplorable labels that pit person against person, belief against belief, and hope against hope.

We must use our power to jab the fist of unity into the face of destructive labels and hate speech, refusing to give those hell-bent on keeping our citizenry broken a chance to succeed.

I got a label for us to make more use of…How about 'HUMAN' - as in Humanity.

Works for me.


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