what’s in a name


As anybody who has following my writings here and elsewhere know, I’m have been pondering the question of labels, especially as it relates to gender and race. I’ve concluded time and time again that there is no need for them. The video I’m sharing is a spoken word piece that states the case nicely. It was brought to my attention by a like-minded soul.

I would add that many people hold on to their racial identity as if it truly defines who they are. They are afraid they will lose themselves and somehow betray their ancestors if they don’t fiercely uphold that racial identity. In my view, though, racial identity has nothing to do with who we are as individuals. It is pushed upon us by society.

So while there’s nothing wrong with celebrating our cultural traditions, it should be understood that mindlessly adhering to a so-called cultural norm can be limiting.

Like, how many of us won’t objectively listen, ever, to a certain type of music, go to a certain movie, vote outside of a particular political party, or be friends with a particular person because of our race and culture. I’ve written before about people’s assumptions concerning poetry written by a black person.

What activities or professions do we not attempt because, according to our culture, we “don’t that sort of thing?” How many of us form an immediate opinion of another person based solely on their race or culture? For those who say that black people can’t be racist, I beg to differ. Racism is not based on outcome. It’s based on mental programming.

And I’m not saying people are not hurt by racism. They are–hurt and even killed. Daily. But it’s not because this person is bad or that person deserved it. It has nothing to do with the individual. These atrocities are based on ideas and knee-jerk reactions.

It’s hard to imagine, especially in America, but what if you were not defined by your race: Who would you be? Better yet, the question is: Who are you? Who defines who you are?

When the world looks at me, they see I am a black woman, but what does that mean? There is no limit to the definition of who I am.

©A. D. Joyce, 2016