Woman. Person of color. Millennial.
These are some of the labels that apply to me. Yes, I am a woman. I am also a person of color, and I am a part of the millennial generation. However, labels do more than classify you as a member of certain groups. Labels come with a set of predetermined qualities that attempt to define you as a member of those groups.
Because I am a woman, I must love children and want some of my own one day. My main priority in life, as a woman, must be to marry quickly and start a family. If I am cranky, it must be because I am on my period. I am not actually a sports fan because I am a woman; I just like to watch football because the guys are hot. I don’t lift weights or do push ups when I exercise because that’s too difficult for my delicate frame; I stick to yoga and pilates. Because I am a woman, it is assumed I am fragile and weak.
Because I am a person of color, I must not be intelligent. On the few occasions my accent slips out, it must be because I am stupid and do not have the mental capacity to understand how to speak English properly. The color of my skin must mean that my family cannot afford to even be middle class and that we must be on government support and using food stamps to survive. If I am in an interracial relationship with a Caucasian person, it must be because I am after their money. Because I am a person of color, it is assumed that I am less educated and less financially stable.
Because I am a millennial, I must be entitled. I must want a trophy for simply showing up. I am hooked on technology, and I am constantly on my phone. My life revolves around social media and doing what I have to do to get those precious “likes.” I must be spending my free time taking selfies and contributing nothing to society. Because I am a millennial, it is assumed that I am lazy and the worst generation to have ever set foot on this earth.
For some reason, society hands us these labels saying, “Because this is where you belong, and this is how you act.” However, more often than not, the stereotypes associated with those labels are negative and quite frankly the opposite of the truth. I am not a dependent young woman; I am strong and self-sufficient. The color of my skin does not set the bar for my education; I am a high school graduate and currently a college student. I do not expect to be able to go through life thinking that everything I need to survive will simply be handed to me; I work just as hard as anyone else.
We are all unique individuals. It is preposterous to believe that beings as complex as humans can be classified in such a cookie cutter fashion based on their gender, race, or generation. Society can label me a certain way, but I will not let it define me. It does not define you, either.