A couple thoughts on Olivia’s Raven-Symone’s interview in which she says she does not want to be labeled as gay or African American.
First thought – Why do people get so worked up that a woman on the other side of the country has determined how she does and does not want to be labeled? Meanwhile, you still have to go to the job tomorrow and your car note will still be due on the 23rd. So unless Cheetah Girl is impairing your pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of selfies, take a cigarette break, calm TF down, and get back to work.
But on a more serious note:
Folks’ outrage indicates that they don’t have a man an under-appreciation we have for difference as a species. We do not appreciate that there are different ways of being and thinking that are not only okay, but should be celebrated. Raven-Symone undoubtedly grew up in different ways than many of us. Starting her career on a hit show (The Cosby Show) and popular commercials, and then moving through the world of Disney and building a multimillion-dollar enterprise, Raven has not lived in the vestiges of her African-Americanness the way many of us have. So it is expected that her views *could* be different and now we know that they are.
We are so identified by our labels that when someone else does not, it unnerves us. People are so identified with their labels because they are attached to their story, usually one of pain. The problem is that the spiritual shift is moving away from story. The age of the testimony is slipping into irrelevance; the age of giftedness is the future. As everyone’s pain story has become public domain through the advent and popularity of social media, 24 hour news, and YouTube, the story has lost its significance. I’ve said before that our pain doesn’t make us remarkable, because we all experience pain. It is what you do with that experience – your gift to the world – that is unique.
Personally, I don’t have an issue with using labels to describe aspects of myself. And it is because I don’t believe that words have power. People have power and we have outsourced that power to our words instead of our sense of presence. So slurs used by a TV cook causes a month of uproar. This is also why one person’s words of wisdom or advice can fall on deaf ears but the identical words from another person changes lives. Our power is in our sense of connection and energy which comes from being, not in vocal utterances. To those on certain planes of consciousness, words are poor substitutes for the magic of being and this is where some choose to live.
For practical purposes, I fit a lot of labels: male, African-American, gay, overweight, Texan, American, teacher, son, brother, etc. I am all of these things but “I” am none of these things. And whether or not the world responds to me based on these signifiers has nothing to do with me. A white man’s racism does not determine that I consistently live in a state of thinking about my race. It can, depending on environment. It does not have to. And that’s the beauty and importance of difference.
The swift dissemination of information through social media and other technology guarantees that there will always be a court case, a tweet, a nip-slip, an epithet, or a slur for us all to be alarmed about. And we will make memes. If these things are important to you, let them be important…to you. And decide how you want to be defined and make this known. That’s so Raven, by the way, when you do that.
ION: Global warming threatens our existence on this planet.