Why do you label me?
Let’s face it. We are in a society where people judge a book by its cover. That girl who seems to be overly touchy-feely with guys that she calls “good friends” is easy A. That boy who seems to have forgotten his belt at home is a wanna-be-mainstream-rapper who will never find a decent job.
The subject that Dora Wallace, life coach and motivational speaker, presented about labeling for the Black Student Union Black History month celebration explains why people label each others.
Even being a successful African-American woman, it has been hard for Wallace coming from an extremely poor background to get rid of the title of “the girl that eats food from the garbage.” Even as an author who earned diplomas, it is hard to scrub out the name-calling, Wallace said.
Most people would think that labeling is not that big of a deal. If you are not what people called you, you can easily brush it off. If people called you “stupid,” just ace the mid-term exams and you will be the winner who would have shut people down. But it is not that simple. Labeling has the effect of a self-fulfilling policy, Wallace said. If people say you are stupid long enough, unconsciously you will end up believing it and aim for C’s while you might be able to get A’s on the mid-terms.
Wallace said people keep labeling for mainly two reasons: fear and lack of courage.
Fear of the unknown, fear of breaking the rumors spreading around. How likely would it be for you to get closer to a person on campus you heard had an STD, for instance? It might not be true but people often follow the rumors rather than ignore them, by caution and fear.
Also, people keep using the labels because they have a deep lack of courage, Wallace said. We all know a person who has attendance issues, lateness and therefore failed two of his classes. Yes, he deserves it. He is lazy! Actually, he lost one of his parents in a car crash and it has been a real struggle for him during the whole semester just to get up in the morning.
To be wrong on a judgment leads to an introspective process that people try to avoid. A person obviously was completely wrong to label someone else as a lazy individual, but they will not admit it to him and apologize. It is easier to act like nothing has ever been said.
A label can last a lifetime, Wallace said. And she mentioned the controversial “sagging” issue–the way an African-American male wears his pants can affect how he is perceived. Even if it is a trend of which she doesn’t approve, it remains just a fashion, an outside factor that shouldn’t determine the inside of a person.
After all, the master of sagging-style, the tattoo-holic, gifted musician rapper Lil Wayne, revealed on of his interview on “The View” that he majored in Psychology at the University of Phoenix. Even if some people consider it as an online diploma, we still admire that the money-maker-rapper-rock star pursued higher education to better himself.
CART is the acronym Wallace uses to avoid labeling.
“It takes Courage and Acceptance that we are all different, we have to be Responsive and Tolerant of each others.”
The fact that Wallace exposed a difficult part of her past and has common points with the audience helped them appreciate, understand and be touched by what she had to share, said Antwayn Spears, a senior majoring in Marketing.
Heath Morgan, Dean of Students who attended the presentation, invited her to come to MVC and thought she would be a perfect mentor for the Black Student Union whose president is Raymond Banks and vice president is Trina Williams.
Sophomore Samantha Gilkey, a member of the lady Viking basketball team, appreciated the conversational session that took place after Dora Wallace’s speech. It dealt with racial perceptions and it was a real plus, as students could honestly express themselves about subjects like interracial dating or the way people see Muslims in the United States after 9/11.
In a film about racial perceptions, some people’s opinions were crude and unexpected, coming from some relatively young speakers.
As hard to believe and hard to understand as it is, there are still some people who would rather live in the ugly lies they have been brought up with than to live with the truth, Wallace said. And it is disheartening, she added.
“Built up, not tear down,” were Wallace’s last words of her speech.