McCleod: The thing to remember about labels is they should be avoided
Labels have been around since before my time and have continued to have a lasting impact that have not allowed us to simply be humans, or just Americans, who look different or come from a different background. As we see in our world, this has caused even more divisiveness in a time when coming together to solve an epidemic (racism) and a pandemic (COVID-19) should be at the forefront.
Labels placed on people cause people to believe things that are sometimes not true. The other day I was reading from someone that they believed that men and women of color who support the notion that Black Lives Matter believe a host of things that the BLM “Organization” believes and that’s simply not true.
Most people support the notion that black lives matter, and wear it proudly simply because we are black and do not want our sons or daughters lives to be taken without repercussions for those actions. We want to be able to believe in the same justice system and police treatment that white Americans are able to receive. We want to not be in fear of our lives every time a police pulls us over or have to explain to our children “how to get stopped by police” in order to make it home.
So I don’t have to teach my 13-year-old son that if you are ever to get stopped, pull under a bright light, hope to be in a busy location, turn on your inside light, keep your wallet out so that you do not have to reach into the glove compartment or center console, keep your hands on the wheel or outside the window, always reply with yes sir or no sir, and under no circumstances argue the reasoning during your stop but wait to have a court day and to always do all of these things so that you do not for any reason be seen as a threat and you make it home.
So when I say black lives matter I just want to be able to teach my sons how to drive without them having to think about all of those things. I don’t want to have to live where I am constantly telling them what kind of toys they can or can’t play with, and playing cops and robbers isn’t appropriate for them at the threat of being killed in public places or that going with certain friends you aren’t allowed to do the same things they are able to do because your mistakes aren’t like theirs and can be fatal.
It’s so tiring all the things we have to teach in order to just survive and not seeing through that lens most could never understand. But the label that people want to see when they see Black Lives Matter is that it means, we support the BLM organization, or that Black lives matter means we are for looting and riots, or that we are in full support of defunding the police ALL across America even though we want justice served, or that we are for a ban on deportation for ALL felons who are not US citizens, or the flag is not respected and the list goes on because people want that to be the agenda pushed instead of us just wanting to live with the same luxuries white Americans are afforded.
These labels stretch far beyond BLM and not everyone who says, supports, or wears Black Lives Matters is doing it for the same reasons. As a country our “labels” have divided us tremendously because we put an association with these labels; not all Democrats are poor and looking for a handout, not all Republicans are rich, not all Biden supporter are pro-abortions and not all Trump supporters are racist.
I don’t believe that most people want their “labels” to be associated with these above statements, but the labels we have created cause us to believe this way so sometimes take off the labels and ask the question. Then maybe you would agree that each person’s reasoning makes perfect sense to them and you can see through their lens. The election is coming up so please get out and vote because every voice matters November 3.
AJ McCleod is the Director of Camps for the YWCA of Lubbock and East Lubbock Community Alliance Facilitator, a 2004 graduate of Estacado High School and a lifelong Lubbock resident.