Kelsey W. California

Stop Labeling!

I believe that in order for our country to efficiently solve problems and create a better country for ourselves and future generations, we need to stop labelling. Whether this is the labeling of gender, race, religion, political party, origin, or socio-economic background, labeling others only makes our "United" States less-united, and allows assumptions and snap-judgements to dictate our words and actions.

Dear Future President,

The United States of America. It just sounds impressive. The title implies that unity among different groups is at the cornerstone of the system; however, I don’t see a whole lot of unity and understanding around me.

In my high school English class, we recently read The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. In this collection of stories, the different characters are labelled by their occupation or relations, such as “nun,” “friar,” or “man of law.” In class, we had a discussion about what labelling people does to our society. And, we came to the conclusion that although it can seem like the easiest way to determine more about someone because they may fit into a category that typically has certain traits or opinions, it doesn’t allow for a culture of understanding and cohesion as people are constantly being put into boxes that affect how we see them.

Over the last sixteen years, I have grown up in a world where labels see to define our society more than they should. Whether it is a class at school, on my soccer team, or in organizations I am involved with, it seems as though labels are what we use to simplify how we see things. We use them to describe other people, ideas, and feelings; however, the labeling that plagues our nation currently is that done to other Americans. We tend to associate certain words with certain individuals or groups of people, which can act as name tags that are hard to get off once they “stick.”

Therefore, Mr./ Madame President, I am asking for your awareness of this issue. Too often in this election labels have been used in an attempt to include many different people under one umbrella to be judged or shamed. Labels can be applied in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, or political party. Whether it is describing a certain group’s views on a political issue, or discussing the faults of another, these labels can serve as trigger words that lead to snap-judgments and stereotypes that are often inaccurate. For example, not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Christians are homophobic, and not all politicians are greedy.

During your term in office, I would ask that you set an example for the over 300 million Americans that look to you for guidance. Don’t use these words in a divisive way to describe people who are, think, or act differently than you. Set an example by not assuming certain characteristics apply to a given group, and think about whether your argument relies on stereotypes or is an accurate representation of that group. Additionally, please encourage Americans and yourself to have an open-mind in order to allow for a switch from snap-judgments to understanding and respect. It would allow us to see that as Americans we are all more similar than we may have thought. In summary, although we do not need to agree on everything, an emphasis on unity and togetherness rather than labels and divisions will echo around the country and result in a society that looks beyond the labels that immediately come to us when we see someone, and try to create a more “United” States.

Thank you for serving our country, and braving the election process. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish!

With respect,

Kelsey Warren

Marlborough School

AP World History Period B

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