Do labels scare you? Do labels sort set a bar for what one can become? Does the phrase, “sky’s the limit” seem to be more like maybe the sky is the limit? Does the reputation that comes with a label, limit one to whatever is they want to do? As a black man, I sometimes wonder about this. We live in a world full of different individuals and sometimes these individuals get labeled because of race, religion, and sex. For example, one day my family and I went to a new church because at the time, my fiancé and I were looking for a church to get married in; not really paying attention to the service but more so looking at the design of the church, paying attention to the people of the church and still keeping an ear open for the priest, we came to a conclusion that this was the church….until after mass.
The priest realizing my family and I were new to the church came up to us, gave us a warm welcome and showed us around the grounds. I’m not sure how it got to race because I was still looking around to see where we could take pictures and when I came back to the conversation, the priest was shocked because we were black and catholic. It wasn’t like a wow you guys are black and catholic, it was like he couldn’t believe it. I think he couldn’t get pass the fact, that we were black and catholic. Now I know that most black folk have a tendency to be Christian or Baptist, because of the label, but not everyone who is black fall in the category. Basically the whole conversation was centered on race and religion and I mentally checked out again. Every now and then, I would kind of check back in to make sure my mom didn’t have the priest in a head lock. I could kind of tell it was irritating my mom that the priest met black Catholics.
My mom was born in Chicago in 1948. She came up in a time period when black people were treated like shit. Also, my grandparents, every summer would take them back home to Louisiana to visit other family; a not so friendly place to people of color in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s 80’s, 90’s, fuck it even today it’s still very alive. I say this so you understand why I had to kind of keep an eye on my mother. I knew she wasn’t going to attack the priest because I knew she knew he meant no harm, and I know she knows this is Los Angeles and racism is not nearly as bad as it was or is in other parts of the country or world. As we left the church, my mom, aunt, cousin, brother, ex fiancé were fired up; we didn’t go back to that church. What’s my point? In my example, you can clearly see the priest was a victim of categorizing, labeling, boxing people in. I’m not saying he’s a bad person but clearly he was not hearing how the words sounded coming out of his mouth. If we didn’t have this label, box, or category, this would not have been a problem.
In today’s world, we know that nothing can hold us back. We know that race, religion, or sex is just that. However, some of us do not stop to think that if a woman wanted to, she could work construction, if a man wants to wear make-up he can wear it, if you’re black you don’t have to have rims and talk loud….these are categories, titles if you will. However, we still have this mind frame. When you think boss, what comes to mind? Most of the time, some people think negative things depending on their past situation, sometimes it’s the way media portrays a boss, and sometimes the position itself, which calls for one to be a little more aggressive than usual can give the title boss a bad stigmatism. Labels, Titles, we need them to separate each other, we need them so there won’t be any confusion but I do believe, we are smart enough to look pass that…I do believe we are smart enough to meet someone and look pass the “label” a person comes with…some days I question….I’ve meet tons of people were it took them a few times to realize that because I’m black doesn’t mean I do everything that is considered to be black; one has to start seeing people for the things they like to do, not the things society expects them to do….