Let’s learn to move past labels

Mauriel Clark

Recently, a video went viral and received a lot of backlash because of a comment that a celebrity made that was interpreted negatively. During an interview between Oprah and Raven Symoné, Symoné stated that she does not identify with the gay community even though she is currently dating a woman. She also stated that she did not identify with the African American community. Instead, she chose to identify herself as being an American, who can relate to all cultures.

Oprah warned the actress that she would “get a lot of flak” for not identifying with the African American community. Immediately after, maybe even during the airing of the video, Symoné began to receive negative criticism. People were angry because they felt that she was not taking pride in her African ancestry.

Whether or not I agree with Symoné’s statement, I think the most important factor is that she is entitled to believe whatever she wants. Symoné has the right to hold whatever beliefs that she desires, whether people agree with them or not. There are plenty of people who have different beliefs, morals and values than I. However, that does not keep me from believing in what I do. Our differences are what make us individuals and stand out from others. They also make up a huge portion of our identity.

I also agree with Symoné when she stated that she did not want to be labeled. I think that society tries to force labels upon people by making them fit into categories based on the society’s definition of that specific category. Along with these categories comes a group of stereotypes and generalizations that are believed to be true.

I think that Symoné’s decision to identify with all cultures is an amazing thing. Instead of identifying with one culture and how it is different from others, she is choosing to relate to all of them. I believe that this is something that everyone should do. I believe Americans put too much focus on how these cultures are different. Instead of acknowledging these differences, encouraging people to take pride in their cultures and learning more about each other to become a better society, a culture hierarchy is created.

At the end of the day, everyone has the right to believe what they want. They also have the right to choose their identities, even if it doesn’t make sense to others. People shouldn’t attack others who choose to make decisions and hold beliefs that are different from their own.

An advantage that Americans have is the ability to choose who or what one wants to identify themselves as, whether it be a religion, gender or sex. Freedom is a right that separates Americans from all other countries and should never be deprived.