Today I woke up with a totally different idea of what to write, I was going to write a poem. A poem on the different curves and turns we take on life’s journey, curves that deceive us into thinking we have moved onto a different path. In reality, however, the path remains the same; our minds and souls change attracting different people, different circumstances. With each new addition, the path takes on a new form: it becomes rocky, smoother, broader, narrower. We get delayed, we get propelled. We get re-tagged and reconfigured – eternally changed, essentially the same. But the path – the path stays the same. That is the crux of the poem I intended to write, but then I read something that veered me slightly off-course, it focused my mind on life and its numerous tags for everything under the sun.
The article I read was about Beyonce’s performance at the super bowl, it discussed her new song formation and what it all meant for ‘black’ people. You can find the post here. A very heated piece with a strong message which I would love to share my thoughts on.
First, in life there will always, always be tags.
‘Tag: a label attached to someone or something for the purpose of identification or to give other information.’
Tags can be positive or negative, misguiding or informative, complimentary or derogatory. Trying to avoid them completely in order to be politically correct or encourage harmony is similar to trying to navigate a maze without drawing a map or directions to trace your steps back. Or trying to coordinate a workshop for a thousand participants without using any form of grouping, division or methodology.
Tags like generalisations can be very confining, boxing people into corners and divides they don’t fit into naturally. Blacks, whites, gay, straight, minority group, majority group, breast-feeder, bottle feeder etc, are all tags.
Tags become a problem when:
- They blind the speaker to the potentials of their target
- When the speaker ignores the obvious and depends on associated myths to judge the target.
- When they are designed to humiliate or insult
- When the target takes them up without thought or worse when they adopt it against their true individuality.
If I gave a child the above picture to colour and they painted it red, has it in any way changed the true colour of the flower? The colour used is simply a reflection of the child’s mind at that moment. A tag takes on the life of its speaker and the reaction of its target. When someone refers to me as a coloured person, I often wonder do colourless people exist?
I know it’s a difficult thing to do, to try looking past the labels. History has damaged a lot of words for us, our anger and failure to see the coward behind those derogatory tags prevents us from seeing ourselves as we truly are ‘humans on an exodus’. Hiding behind the illusion of political correctness equally doesn’t help, address the underlying issues put everyone on a level playing field. Stop the tag based treatment.
Secondly, people constantly seek to be accepted for who they are: as individuals, as a family, as a nation, as a race. We all want acceptance that doesn’t judge us, so why did Beyonce’s performance of a song that embraces her bloodline and every image associated with her skin tone receive such an angry reaction. Why did people get offended?
Similar to the tags issue, we must ask ourselves why are we offended or threatened by this? When she sang the song ‘who runs the world?’ women everywhere cheered, men moaned and jeered. Now this song, formation celebrates her blackness; blacks cheer and whites hiss (some whites not all). See my point there? There will always be divides, just get on with life. The song becomes a problem if Beyonce insists that everyone should stand up and sing the song or dance to it, then we can start the debate. When one tries to laud their beliefs, sufferings or basic lifestyle and tags on another then there is a problem.
The writer in her post alluded that those who have been oppressed have the right to speak over people, I do not agree with that at all.
“People will then argue and say things like, “well why can’t I say White Pride?” Let me tell you why. Because White Pride has killed Black people. “White pride” is what people yelled when they lynched folks and hung them in trees. As people said “white pride” in their white hoods, they dragged Black bodies behind their cars. Never has Black Pride dragged a white child or burned a white church or shot a white boy without consequence.”
Everyone deserves the right to speak and uphold their identities. I totally agree that sometimes we have to scream to have our voices heard, but when we start to shout down the other person, who is merely different but isn’t trying to harm us, then it’s a vicious cycle repeating itself. The players might have changed ranks, but the game remains the same. I know that many still suffer from the effects of such imbalances and for them the
extreme might be the only way out. For the black person who does not have these challenges, don’t go into the streets with a chip on your shoulder ready to pick a fight. Know when to take a stand and when to stand down.
We must learn to respect each others individuality, you’re a gay, I am straight. Why should you be able to say yours while I cower in fear of offending your new found self? Promoting that belief shows we haven’t learnt from the past or made any progress. I understand how passionate we can get with our chosen beliefs, but we must be careful to temper passion with respect for another’s individuality.
Finally, the writer’s attitude to an email in my opinion was a bit over the top. I believe it encourages the divide.
Dear Awesomely Luvvie:
I was so excited when I started following your Facebook page a few weeks ago! Many of your posts and blogs are fantastically witty, smart and sassy. You’ve made me laugh and think, and I’ve shared several of your pieces on my own feed.
But after awhile, I sensed an undertone of “us vs. them” that feels like it’s counter-intuitive to promoting love and an honest dialogue about race, and what we can do better as a culture.
Your words have great power and a lot of people are listening.
Everyone who writes projects their personality, views and thoughts through their work, especially when it touches on topical issues. We are entitled to our own thoughts, however, I like to think that writers ultimately hope to shape society into a peaceful global community where mind-tone, brain-tone and heart-tone supercede skin-tone. In line with the above, I suppose the writer could have pointed out to lady x email that there really is an ‘us vs them’ issue and until everyone accepts that it exists and works towards eliminating it, there won’t be any ‘tangible love or dialogue’. The writer equally shouldn’t insult her white audience by acknowledging she wasn’t writing for them. The change we seek will never be obtained or complete unless we all act as one, ask Martin Luther king Jr. who to my knowledge never looked down on his varied array of supporters.
How we handle issues determine whether we end up as victors or as bleeding fighters of a worthy cause. I do not write this as someone who has totally adapted the one global community spirit, far from it. I write as one who wants to pursue her path without the added consequences of a wrong re-tag.
#Don’t tag me wrongly.