The Orion

Americans shouldn’t fear identity labels

Alyssa Dunning

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Alyssa Dunning

While Raven-Symone may want to live in a colorless world, I don’t.

Raven-Symone made news headlines when she told Oprah in an interview that she doesn’t like to label herself African-American or gay. While I understand her sentiments, getting rid of labels won’t change anything.

Labels will never be the actual root of prejudice in America. They help us self-identify and identify others with similar traits or interests.

I agree that African-American is a problematic label because not every black person in America came from Africa. Also, as a white American, I don’t have to identify myself as Welsh-American. There is a double standard in who we label because America has this idea that white is the proper or default skin tone.

I think it is important to mention that, as was brought up during my Tweet Talk Oct. 10, the issue is with the negative assumptions connected to labels, not the labels themselves. Raven-Symone and other activists should be advocating for bringing down prejudice, not the use of a label.

My biggest concern in her interview was her use of the word “colorless.” Nothing irks me more than when someone tries to say that they aren’t racist by insisting they don’t see color.

This perpetuates the idea that there is something wrong with being a different tone of skin other than white. We should embrace different races, cultures and sexual identities instead of whitewashing them to fit in with the ideals of a white-heterosexual America.

As a nation, we should stand together and work toward no longer using white as our default skin tone.

People shouldn’t be allowed to switch between the words white and “normal” when discussing a person, something I heard in class less than two weeks ago. Everyone is normal, no matter what their sexual identity or skin tone.

If we worked together and embraced our differences, wonderful people wouldn’t have to feel too ashamed to accept a label.

Alyssa Dunning can be reached at [email protected] or @alyssadunning3 on Twitter.

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Americans shouldn’t fear identity labels