We need to stop labeling ourselves and others


It is time to introduce ourselves as human, rather than limiting ourselves and others through labels and stereotypes. zphoto courtesy of Jon Tyson on unsplash.com.

On May 12, several A-West students packed the street corners at 64th and Simms to protest abortion, specfically the draft released by the Supreme Court discussing the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade. Most of the protestors chanted and held signs, while others seemed to go way further. Several videos and photos posted online show screaming and even physical contact between individuals with opposing views. Neither was going to change their mind on the subject, yet they still continued to scream at one another. While the students were lawfully allowed to protest under the first amendment, watching them yell at one another seemed to distract from what they were trying to accomplish. 

Selfishness. Divisiveness. Hate. Disrespect. These are several problems facing society today. It has been said time and time again that no one is listening to each other. However, no one has really come to a solid solution. So what is the solution?

People are given labels and they tend to give labels- to themselves and to others. When someone identifies as a conservative say, it is easy to make several assumptions about them and what they believe, even if they don’t actually agree with everything that a labeled conservative tends to believe in. This goes with everything in every situation. When stereotypes are placed on a group because of race, culture, religion, and more, they are limited. Labels limit an individual. People are never one label because humans are complex. Just because someone was raised one way, does not mean they are 100% what one perceives them to be. 

It is also important to not just stop giving people labels, but stop presenting ourselves as one label. This limits ourselves when we feed into the label. For instance, if someone says, “I am a liberal” instead of “I agree with liberal stances” then they are limiting who they are and how they are presented to others. 

Feeding into these labels and stereotypes creates a more judgemental and divisive climate. It almost dehumanizes one another because they are no longer a person, but a label. 

In a poll of Arvada students and parents asking what they thought the biggest threat facing society today, several respondents said selfishness, intolerance to people different from one another, polarization and divisiveness were some of the biggest threats. 

This is currently present in several everyday life events. On social media, people are constantly pushing both their own agenda and dehumanizing those who completely disagree with them. Of course, people develop their beliefs through their own ways, but refusing to learn about others because of a label one has placed on them is more damaging to society. 

Research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that, “These ingrained beliefs systematically affect people’s equity preferences, making it possible to predict how they will treat members of different social groups.”

Regardless of where someone has come from, they have their own biases about people based on what they have grown up with. To rid the poor or inequitable treatment of people that may think or look or speak differently, we need to make a conscious effort to stop labeling people. We need to see people only as humans. After that, people really just need kindness, love and support. We need to stop describing people with labels. 

Hopefully, through this new effort, we can not scream at one another, but listen. We can love each other and still disagree, because we are seeing people simply as human.