What’s in a Label?
“I’m a millennial, I don’t like labels.” Tomi Lahren explained on Trevor Noah’s Daily Show last week during a heated debate between the two politically charged individuals. Their conversation on the late night talk show is one seen and heard around the country since the early days of the election campaigns. Liberals versus Conservatives! Blue versus Red! Donkeys versus Elephants! Dogs versus Cats! The current political discourse is the very reason why George Washington and John Adams urged everyone not to have a two party system. Yet, here we are. Divided and barely standing under the weight of the most recent presidential election.
This article isn’t going to close the divide. If it did, then I’m obviously in the wrong field of work and should head to D.C. immediately. What I would like to bring to light is something Ms. Lahren briefly touched on during her time on the Daily Show. Millennials. My generation. Stereotyped as whiny, selfish, selfie-loving, label-hating, Bernie-worshipping brats. Are some of us like that? Of course, stereotypes have to start somewhere. But saying all of us fall under that stereotype is the same as saying that all books are written by James Patterson. Are some books written by James Patterson? Yes, in fact he’s written quite a few. But there’s so many books out there that aren’t written by James Patterson that saying all books are written by or even similar to James Patterson is painfully ignorant. Stereotypes aren’t a culture, they’re a brand. Not all sodas are Pepsi, not all books are James Patterson’s.
Following that, as a millennial, I’m here to whine about what my fellow millennial said on national television. “I’m a millennial, I don’t like labels.” Outside her close group of friends, has she met a millennial? I, for one, particularly enjoy labels. They give me a word to describe something in a broad sense. It saves time and gives me peace of mind. For example, terms that the LGBTQA community use. Those are all labels, and many of which have developed and grown in popularity over the last few decades because it’s become more socially acceptable to be yourself. Growing up as a millennial, I had endless papers and essays forced on me by Baby Boomer teachers all asking the same thing- Who am I? If I didn’t know who I was, I was obviously the outcast or the difficult child. What these essays did was give kids the chance to stop and think about who they are, what they like, and what they enjoy. From this, kids grew courage in themselves, albeit subconsciously, to discover who they are. They just needed a name for it. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual- All of these and so many more gave kids the names, the labels, to define who they are and finish writing the 7th grade English essay. Writer, artist, creative, joined the list of labels, followed quickly by left-minded, nerd, geek, etc. These aren’t just descriptors, they’re labels. We apply them on ourselves when all else fails, and honestly saves so much time introducing yourself.
Labels are fine! Let’s just embrace labels and get it over with so we can move onto more important matters! Did you know Flint, MI still doesn’t have drinkable water? Did you know the Standing Rock protest worked and they won’t have their primary water source threatened by 500,000 gallons of crude oil everyday? As much as I adore a good “debate” online or on TV between two opposing sides, at the end of the day a fired up tweet will only carry on the endless cycle of arguments and bickering. Nothing is taught or discovered. The United States used to be all for that, discovery. Yes, we did a lot of bad in our past in the name of discovery. That can’t, and won’t, be denied. But discovery and the endless quest for truth and knowledge flows through every American’s blood. Doesn’t matter what your age, race, gender, sexuality, religion, or nationality is; If you choose to be an American, if you feel that urge towards life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then you’re an American.
So go ahead, millennials, baby boomers, generations x, y, and the brand new z’s- label yourselves. Because at the end of the day it’s another step towards the ultimate discovery of who you are.