Friday, June 17, 2016

A Real Home

Sunday night I watched the Broadway Tony award show because I love the diversity that is New York theater. The first time I saw Camelot, Guinevere was played by a black woman. And this was in the 70s. Nobody cared.  Five minutes into the play no one even noticed. I was thinking about that when I was reading about an outrage that a black woman who was cast to play Nina Simone in a movie was not black enough. Not black enough? I don’t even know what that means. And that is the difference between Hollywood and Broadway. Broadway just doesn’t seem to notice the labels. Good acting transcends the color, the sexuality, or the ethnicity of the actor. Just look at the cast of Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton is played by a man of Puerto Rican descent, George Washington by a black man, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson by black men. In fact the only lead role played by a white person is King George III.  The show won 11 Tonys and is sold out into 2017.

We live in an amazing world of diversity but for some reason people want to live in a world of  “they” rather than “we” and so they label others. And once those labels are in place, judgements are made.  “Elite athlete” conjures one set of values, while “Muslim” triggers something else. “Gay” certainly gives rise to many different feelings depending on where you stand while fundamentalist Christian does something else. Or perhaps the same.  Oh yes, there are opinions about everyone. As someone I knew used to say “opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.”

But today it's not enough just to have a personal  opinion. People feel compelled to share their opinions with anyone and everyone on the internet.  Oy.  Some people enjoy going on social media and calling the labels names. “Those Republicans are a bunch of assholes”. Some people just outright discriminate against some labels. “I will not bake a cake for a gay person”.  Some labels give the person immunity from equal punishment of crimes. And some people massacre other people of a certain label, be they Christians or gays or westerners or whatever label they hate today.  I knew someone who argued that we need labels for survival.  I would argue that labels are threatening our very survival.

What bothers me most is that these reactions are rarely against an individual, they are mostly against only the label.  Not a person, but an adjective.  And not really the label itself but their OPINION about the label. So much violence because of an opinion about a label.  I can only shake my head.

“Maybe there’s a lesson from all this, a lesson in tolerance. We need to support each other’s differences and worry less about our own opinions.”  Jimmy Fallon

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t want to live in a world of labels. I want to live in a world of individuals. Just like in my own home. In my own family. In my own community. All of us. Together.


  1. AnonymousJune 17, 2016

    Amen to that... We were talking about the same thing this morning on our walk. We do all have opinions and they are never going to be the same. Since I can only control me - I have to be the best me I can be to all of the people I meet and interact with every day no matter who they are or what they believe. That is hard enough for me to do some days!

  2. I get frustrated by how quick people are to be viciously critical on-line.

  3. I wouldn't put "Hamilton" in such a good light. Not long ago, they put out a call for "black actors only"... that seems quite prejudiced to me.

  4. For some reason, the internet allows people to demonstrate their worst qualities. That's sad. The internet's best use is cat videos, family vacation pix and cute babies.